Let’s talk about the time my best friend made me do the high ropes course at Taronga Zoo.
It was Megan’s second day in Australia and she was still too excited about being in Iggy Azalea’s homeland to acknowledge that her Jet Lag might have been clouding her judgement. I on the other hand was completely aware that my own exhaustion was making me behave like I had just come off a binder of opiates, moonshine and a viewing of Fantasia. I was toting around an emotionally fragile two-year-old whose new molars might as well have been molten lava, an 11 week old baby who was adamant about sucking my nipples until they resembled prunes and my equally exhausted husband who had just finished a very late shift in a coal mine the night before. If that scenario alone wasn’t enough to make us zombies, we ran out of gas in a rural town somewhere between Mudgee and Sydney on the way to pick up Megan from the airport at 4am and had to sit at a service station for 2 hours for them to open. Long story short – I was in no state to operate heavy machinery and/or not drool and stare vacantly in public.
Even though I knew that I desperately needed a hot shower, my hotel bed and my mom to come and keep my children away from sharp objects, I still managed to cheerfully agree to do the high ropes course with Megan. She loves monkey activities and looked like a hopeful puppy when she asked. Feeling anxious about detaching le bebe from my fun bags, I left sweet baby Axel and a sleeping Daisy with Paul and set off to see if I had learned anything from watching Wipe Out on hangover day in college.
Turns out – I did. At first, I stared at the course and immediately began sweating in places no woman should sweat. I had damp hands and a damp (cough) crack. I was terrified. Since I didn’t have any rosin, I blotted my hands on my shirt and set off with my game face on. After I made it to the first pillar I looked back to see Megan. She couldn’t believe how quickly and gracefully I made it across. I couldn’t believe it either. I swear I had the agility of a cat. Even though I was slaying everything, I was secretly terrified. Not of the height exactly, but that something would go horribly wrong and the course would collapse. I’m convinced that something happens to your confidence after you give birth – you assess risk differently. Something inside you screams, “Stay alive! You have young to protect!”
About halfway through the first course, Axel started screaming. The kind of scream that instantly makes your milk stream down your stomach. I was shouting down instructions to Paul on how to hold him, where a dummy might be and if he could please just get his man boob out. Feeling desperate to get to my baby, I was horrified when the obstacles got even more intense and terrifying. Even Megan was clutching onto my back when we were on the break pillars. Nothing like two best friends cry-laughing with fear in less than flattering harnesses gazing over Sydney’s Harbour.
When I had to cross a thin balance beam of wire in the sky, I began dry heaving. Not full on dinosaur noises or anything – just tiny little gags as I stared intently at the next safety pillar in front of me. That’s when I heard Axels’ cries go from, “I’m really angry and need your boob” to “Listen, Bitch, if I don’t get your tit in my mouth, I’m going to show everyone your 7th grade yearbook photo.” I started to speed up. Megan cried for me to wait for her, but I had to get to my baby.
Have you ever had a double let down of milk while trying to balance on a knee board in the sky? It’s not ideal. Anxious to finish the course, I had to pause to look down to see if milk was dripping on innocent bystanders. (I don’t care how annoying they may be, no child needs a monsoon of Mother’s Milk.) I was also truly petrified about my current location. If the weird knee board challenge wasn’t enough, I had to cross a Jacobs Ladder that was 40 feet in the air. As my child’s cry rang in my ears, I just knew that I had to face my fears and get to him. I surveyed the situation and tried to walk over the DNA strand like course. The bruises on my shins are going to tell you that it was not a wise decision. I still don’t know how I was supposed to win that one. Long story short – I finished the course, zip lined to safety and clutched my son in my arms.
As Axel drank my sweet nectar, Paul told me that a small child had heard Megan and me cackling and asked his mom what animal that was. She replied nicely, “I think that’s a person with a funny laugh, Sweety.” You know what it was – it was a grown woman trying to maintain her youth while needing desperately to feed her young.