This past week, my family and I ventured off to Niagara Falls with the kids. We stayed in a beautiful hotel and set out to see one of nature's wonders.
We stayed on the “American side” in spite of everyone’s advice to see it from the Canadian side because it was “so much better." I am happy to report that it was simply majestic and beautiful right here from the good ol’ USA. The rapids along the canal that lead to the falls were a violent rush of water that was just as breathtaking as they were deadly. We walked along the canal to the falls to see the enormous rush of water leap over the falls into a pool of the most beautiful turquoise colored water I’d ever seen outside of Miami Beach or the Caribbean.
My son, Colin, ever the cautious one, and all of 9 years old observed quietly, staying very close to us, fully understanding the dangers that came with that rushing water. I could see the anxiety come over him as he began to scratch uncontrollably (a nervous tendency) so I reached for his hand and said, “Amazing isn’t it?" I wore a smile that I hoped would reassure him that he was safe.
My husband, understanding that his wife too is petrified of water (let alone rapids and waterfalls), asked if I wanted to take the kids on the Maid of the Mist. This ferry would take us close to the waterfalls, where we could view this miracle from the midst of it all. My son, blessed with bionic ears, heard my husband’s whispered question and squeezed my hand, quickly objecting with a firm “Mom, I don’t want to go.” We were a split group, three (including our houseguest from France) who wanted to go, and two who were afraid to go.
We decided to skip it and head back to the hotel. The kids went off into the swimming pool as I sat thinking about all the things I missed out on in my 40 years of life because I was afraid to try. I realized that I didn’t want that for my kids. My daughter is pretty adventurous, but my son leads by fear. The best way to help him to conquer his fears was to conquer my own (lead by example), and what better way to do this, than as a team on this trip!
The next morning we hung out by the pool again, had lunch and then set off back to Niagara Falls, with my plan to board the Maid of the Mist kept secret. Once there, I asked my husband to go off and purchase our tickets. As I looked Colin in the eye, I said, “We are doing this. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, people do it everyday and they all come off that boat with a smile on their face, and so will we!” Colin stared at me with those flannel-colored blue eyes and whispered “Aren’t you scared, Mom?” I explained that I was nervous, but sometimes that is part of the fun. I said let’s just have faith and end the day, rest knowing we did something we thought we’d never do.
The view of the Falls from the Maid of the Mist was astonishing. I admit my heart was beating out of my chest as the boat fought to stay put in those aggressive waters, however the magnificent sights that our eyes were taking in overshadowed any fears that were within. We each stood silent observing the falls. I glanced at my son and said "What do you think?: He replied, "It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
While I trust that he will grow into a successful man, who I hope travels the world to see more beautiful sights, I am happy that I was part of this one and proud that I was able to conquer a fear with one of the greatest loves of my life, my son. My hope is that you too, will consider forcing your fears to take a back seat, and live your life to the fullest. One challenge at a time.