Life on Skates

A few weeks ago, Lily rollerskated for the first time. I thought she would be scared or cry or avoid the challenge, but she kept insisting that she wanted to skate. We got out on the rink (I totally thought I was going to die — death-by-roller-skate, some grizzly accident akin to dying during any extreme sport).

Lily had no fear. Her legs would get ahead of her or behind her. Lily brought them back. She would lose her balance and then she would find it — because it was hers. When she fell (just once), she stood back up, like she always does.

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Lily’s whole life has been on skates — the ground constantly shifting out from under her, just when she got comfortable. First, an emergency birth — then, emergency brain surgery. Later, waking from brain surgery and seeing the world spin through eyes that would not work together and focus on one spot.

Her vertigo was so bad that Lily would scream when I lifted her out of bed. The transition from laying down to being held was painful — especially for my heart. I wanted to hold Lily and make her better. But it seemed I just hurt her. It was a hard time to be a mother. Gradually, I got over my fear of upsetting Lily. And Lily got over her fear of being moved and got used to the new normal — life in a spinning, shifting world.

Trish Adkins and daughter LilyOn roller skates, I entered Lily’s world — the world of shifting and spinning and teetering. My legs did not seem under my control. It took so much thinking to move and not fall. And when I did fall, Lily laughed and reached out her hand to help me back up.

My wise young Lily seems to understand that falling does not matter much. What matters is the standing back up. It is a lesson on and off the rink. On the rink, it is obvious — take the risk, skate fast, skate faster, skate backwards. So what if you fall — you can try again and again and again.

Off the rink it is the same — take the risk and fail. Everyday, wake up, strap on your roller skates (death-by-skate hysteria be damned!) and fall. Then stand back up and go again. Maybe you will find that miracle you’ve been looking for. Maybe the miracle will be the falling — because you tried or the standing back up — because you fell. Whatever it is, it is yours to find.

Trish Adkins is a South Jersey mom. Read her blog, Yoke, at

Categories: MomSpeak