Today we went to Carlsbad Caverns- 3.75 miles, 750 feet down into a cave. For most of the journey, there was no natural light to be seen.
Caves, enclosed spaces, and any other underground thing really freak me out. The entire walk, I kept thinking about the crazy what-ifs: what if there is an earthquake, and this section of the cave falls in? What if the rocks finally shift? What if… what if… what if…
Aubrianna is currently going through a fear stage. She is afraid of so many things. She’s afraid of the dark, of certain bugs, of being alone, of the sound of crickets at night, of the ocean stealing her toys, even of orange Christmas lights at a recent campground. While in Missouri, in October, we stayed at a campground with some very small caves and she was terrified. I was not sure how today would go, but I knew we were going to try.
I didn’t mention how I felt about the cave to Mike or Aubrianna; I didn’t want her to hear that mommy was scared, and I didn’t have a chance to tell Mike without her hearing. Instead, I talked about how cool it would be to go see where the bats live. I consoled her when she said the shadows were scary, and we talked about all the different things that the stalactites and stalagmites looked like. She rode in the Tula for quite a bit of the journey up and down, and I told her to close her eyes if she was scared.
Scared. I want my daughter to face her fears. I want her to overcome them, to rise above them, to learn that they really aren’t that terrifying. Right now, her fears are things like the dark and oddly colored Christmas lights, but as she grows they will get bigger, more complex, more difficult to overcome. I want her to learn how to do that.
So I do that. I let the crazy thoughts go about all the things that could happen, push them to the back of my mind, and focus on the moment. As much as I can. I get to be brave to help her be brave. And, out of it, we get to experience some very cool places.