Late this summer, on holiday with my grown up son, I did something totally out of character. I climbed Mount Snowdon in Wales. I’m not a hiker and I was totally unprepared for the challenge.

In my mind, I was going to take the train ride up, but my son said something that rang in my ears, made me step back, and I ended up doing something very spontaneous and a tiny bit out of character.

‘Mother, think not about the trauma but the triumph’, he said to me.

The term trauma is a broad one of course but in this instance he was referring to the bruising pain of the long ascent up Wales and England’s highest mountain.

Climbing it has to be singularly the toughest physical challenge I have done to date, and it was definitely painful and punishing, that’s for sure.  The weather changed so many times on our journey up, from sunshine, showers, wind, and hailstones. The higher you get, the worse it gets.

I can’t lie, I wanted to turn back at numerous stages in the hike, at the half way point, I was done, but the shared experience had this incredible unifying experience between us. 

My son learnt, irrespective of how hard I might find something, quitting is something I’d never do likely.
Of him, I saw a steely determination, patience, and a beautiful collaborative and motivational spirit.

He is usually accustomed to seeing a stronger, perhaps more stoic side to me. However, even the strongest people sometimes need reassurance and guidance from those who have the ability to lift them – for which he did. 

20 years before, I’d nearly died in childbirth with him. 10 days in hospital, and 2 years beyond that, gripped by debilitating postnatal depression.

Could I have ever imagined how far I could come, how far we both could come? No, never in my wildest dreams. If someone had predicted that moment on that mount, I’d have congratulated them on their optimism.

For a long time I couldn’t even walk up the top of my road from home, my body was that swollen and I was that breathless, so to ascend a mountain was way beyond a concept I’d have perceived as anything nearing reality.

Unbeknown to many people around me at the time, for all the love in the world I had for my baby, I never saw my fractured life getting any better. I truly didn’t.  There were not too many things going right for me at the time. It should have been the happiest time of my life, but the reality is, it was the hardest.

However, life for me in many ways has been like an ascent up a long steep mountain. Challenging, painful, consuming and unpredictable at the best of times.

In some respects, battling the odds is the only sound way of truly appreciating the achievement of making it to the top. As for the reward, the reward of that view was out of this world, the reward of that metaphoric view of life itself, can also seem out of this world!

The prospect of overcoming any challenge, might at first feel like a pipe dream, but dreams can come true and do come true. I bare witness to that!

So as I watched on, as my son marvelled at the wonderment of literally walking in the clouds, I couldn’t help but wipe a tear away from my eye. My boy was now a man, and for that brief moment, it felt like watching my little boy once more.

The hike itself was not just a physical challenge, but a realisation that irrespective of our own personal traumas in life, things can get better, will get better and do get better. 

Scaling a mountain, be that metaphorically or otherwise, is a triumph, because you get to look back at what you went through to get to that final summit. There is a deep sense of achievement but perhaps I’d not even thought about it like that before, or given myself the opportunity to take a long hard appreciative look at that incredible view ahead of me.
How often do we ever stop to consider such a notion, or give ourselves that moment of consciousness?

Battling the odds and sticking with it, means the reward from the top can be truly wonderful. It really helped me appreciate how instrumental our trials and tribulations in life can be.

So, yes my son, you were indeed right, I can now focus less on the traumas of how I got here, and revel more in the triumphs of the now and what happens beyond now. 
As I hope anyone else who reads this, can do too!
In many ways, this sums up coaching for me. It’s about powering through, and scaling new heights, then celebrating the triumph of personal achievement!

As for actual Mountain climbing itself, I might just stop here, but at the same time, I’ll never say never and I’m sure my son will have lots to say on the matter in any case!

Leave a Reply