At 46, I’m certainly not one of the greatest rock climbers around, but it’s a obsession I truly love that has changed me on many levels. Just like any sport that attracts die-hard followers, it has its own lingo and insider terminology.
“Beta” are the tips and inside scoop to help you successfully complete a route. If you want to challenge yourself a bit more, you can tell your friends, “No beta please, let me figure it out by myself.” To “dyno” is to actually jump and leave all contact with the rock for one or two brief, but terrifying seconds, as you hurl yourself to the next hold (hopefully).
One of my favorites is “crux,” which means the hardest part of the climb that’s most likely to throw you off the wall like a bucking horse. The crux will likely put you in a place where you think for a few seconds, This is impossible! Or Now I’m going to fall for sure! Or maybe even, I so suck at this stuff….
But when you get through the crux, when you hang in there, even though your forearms are burning and your legs are starting to quiver in an excellent imitation of a sewing machine for just. one. more. second — even though your fingers are beginning to melt and you know they’re going to fail at any moment — well, that’s when you feel your best.
It’s amazing. Euphoric. And addictive.
After that, the rest of the climb seems like a cakewalk (mostly).
One of my favorite parts about climbing is the camaraderie you find with friends, new and old. Because of the risks inherent in climbing stories off the ground, because of the fears you are all facing about yourself and your (lack of) abilities, you really end up bonding with your climbing buddies. You’re putting your life in their hands and they’re doing the same. We cheer each other on constantly.
I’d like to play around with the word crux here, because it has a double meaning. The dictionary defines “crux” this way:
a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point
something that torments by its puzzling nature; a perplexing difficulty
Back when Carol and I didn’t know each other and we avoided each other like the plague, I felt completely justified in blowing her off. I thought, “Who cares about making it work with her? Screw it. I didn’t ask her to be a part of my kids’ lives. They have two parents already. I’ll be damned if I’m going to make any room for her in our family, split up though it may be. I’m not going to bend over backwards to make life any easier for her, especially if I sense even the tiniest bit of competition from her.”
And there the situation stayed for several years.
I had my own angst to deal with whenever my kids traveled back and forth between houses during the weekends. There were the typical mishaps and misunderstandings. I thought I had enough shit on my own to handle as a single mom, but one day I was set on a path I never could have foreseen.
I saw something in my children’s faces that chilled me. They had just come back from a weekend with their dad and Carol, their stepmom, and they just looked… so… sad.
It was as if they were being asked to carry a burden that was way too big for their tiny, little selves. Something that was beyond their understanding or ability to work through emotionally, like adults. They had to segment themselves, like pieces of an orange.
This was life at mom’s house. / And this was life at Dad’s.
Two separate worlds, with a barbed-wire fence down the middle.
It just killed me.
They were going to keep on accepting this reality (what other choice did they have?) like dutiful, miniature donkeys trudging up a hill. I think just knowing this is what made me snap.
Things had to change. This state of affairs could not go on. The problem-solver in me looked around at the external circumstances to see what could be adjusted, like moving furniture. Hmmm, nothing of any value.
The answer was internal. I would have to change the dynamic between our houses. I would have to figure out a way to dissolve the distance, or at least greatly reduce it. I would have to find a way to create a connection, create an even purely logistical, practical sense of partnership with their stepmom, because she spent a lot of time with the girls and did much of the hands-on stuff with them.
The very thought made my stomach clench up with fear.
Moms, did you know that about 75-85% of our readers are stepmoms? They are the ones who comment the most. Who post the most about their attempts to reach out to the mom, only to be rebuffed time and time again.
Are you turning away from the stepmom, as I once did?
You are the crux of the matter here…. In many ways, you are the key to this whole relationship even working at all. Or not.
How well do you know the stepmom? If you don’t, why not?
When moms set aside their justifications for increasing the separation between the households, it’s like the damn breaking in a strong river. The current can flow. Wounds can heal. Family nests can be remade. Please think about it. And next time, look a little deeper into your children’s faces when they come back from a weekend visit, or when you bicker with the other household.
What do you see?.
© 2011 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved