Adventurous. That’s what I needed to prove to my eleven year old son on this trip. Mom is indeed still adventurous. “Estoy lista!” I found myself shouting to our Mayan guides. I’m ready for adventure! And who said I’m not? What did I have to prove?

Let’s rewind six months back to June, shall we? As I was standing in line with my husband and three oldest kids, decked out in my racing suit and goggles waiting for the triathlon official to give me a thumbs up for my turn in the water, my son turns around and says, “You can swim laps Mom? Really? Huh. Never seen you actually swim before.”

Really? I’ve taken him to the beach and the pool countless times every summer. I’ve dragged him to hundreds of swim lessons, swim team practices and swim meets. I remember doling out “Shamu” rides at the public pool when he was little. I distinctly remember a water babies Mommy and Me course the summer of 2002 because the pool was freezing. Why doesn’t he think I can swim?

When we got to the bike portion of the race when he blurted out, “And you know how to ride a bike too? Wow, Mom. You’re full of surprises today.” Who over the age of seven doesn’t know how to ride a bike? Why did he assume I had never mastered what is a child’s toy? And who taught him how to ride, huh? Who was holding the video camera and cheering when he finally got the hang of it. What, those who can’t, teach?

And then came the run. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you run either! Go Mom!” Seriously? Never seen me run? How did he think I lost those 70 pounds he forced me to gain when he made me crave nothing but carmel apples and onion rings for nine months? How?

Then it occurred to me. I usually run before the kids wake up. And he probably doesn’t even remember his days in the jogging stroller when he used to weigh under 30 pounds and we’d run all over town. Plus, now he’s at school when I push his younger siblings up the hills.

My bike still lives in my parent’s garage because every time we visit I’m either too pregnant, too nursing and/or have way too much stuff in the minivan to collect it. As far as he’s concerned, I don’t even own a bike.

As for swimming, it had been a long time since I’d joined a cannonball competition or challenged him to a race. I’m usually the one wearing a baby in a wrap, perched on the steps, keeping my non-swimmers within arm’s reach and wondering if my hideous varicose veins will ever completely go away. Hardly a worthy opponent in a 50 yard butterfly sprint.

No, my cliff jumping youth is not a part of my pre-teen’s memory. Had I really degenerated into a boring old mom in his eyes?

Since that fateful day in June when I was “full of surprises” I have challenged my boy to a water obstacle course (I lost), jumped off the high dive in his presence, ran wind sprints with him at the high school track and challenged him to an arm wrestling match. (I won.)

I’ve oh-so casually brought up what it was like to surf in Maui or swim in bat-ridden caves in Mexico or scramble up ancient pyramids back in the day when they were not so roped off. (“Of course, you can’t do that sort of thing now without getting shot, but back in my day…”)

But still, I don’t think he was convinced. So when my husband and I took him along with us on a business trip to Central America last week and we found ourselves zip-lining through the gorgeous canopies of a tropical jungle, across 300 meter gorges, tree top to tree top just like Tarzan, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow and give a little, “Look who’s adventurous now?” before jumping off a cliff, the mountains of Guatemala visible in the distance and the chirping of some exotic creature beckoning us from far below. Who’s adventurous now?

Never mind the fact that we were surrounded by half a dozen capable guides and there was a three year old in our group zipping through the same course as us. But still. It was cool.

But even after all of that, if he still doesn’t think I’m adventurous, I guess I’ll just have to wait until he and his future wife have a baby one day. Then he’ll know, he’ll know…first-hand, just what a diehard, hard-core adrenaline junkie I really am.


Margaret Anderson is the mother of five small children, a wife and a writer. Read more by Margaret Anderson at