I bellow through the trees, watching both kids scramble ahead of me on a trail, each trying to beat the other down the path, into the lush forest.
They are strong and able footed, but I panic when we near the drop off. I am startled when a couple of guys run past me, searching for their lost chocolate Lab. By the ravine. It does nothing for my nerves.
We reach the lower falls and they teeter out to the edge of a mossy rock, searching for crawdads.
"Be careful, be careful, be careful."
I find the words leaping out of my mouth every 20 seconds. How can they grow up, and develop any competence when every thing I say makes the world sound so risky. When I'm paralyzed they will what? Get wet. Twist an ankle?
I bite my tongue. I stop chanting fearful words. I sit on a rock and look up stream, cursing my luck that Greg has the camera with him at the car show.
From behind me creeps a sopping wet Lab; she shakes her coat and the kids rush to the lost dog's aid.
They race ahead of me, again, and my heart starts pounding, again. They fuss over the strange dog, and call her continuously on the trail; I can hear the three of them leading the way. I catch up and they are on a mission, undaunted by the remarks of unkind adults - admonishing us for not having 'our' dog on a leash - until I get ahold of the dog's thankful owner.
And I try, like every mama I know, to be brave, tapdancing in that precarious place somewhere between keeping them safe and letting them soar.