AS A child, I enjoyed climbing trees. Yeah, it wasn't easy as a fat kid – bullies were always waiting at some dingy corner to poke fun and make all the other kids laugh. But there was one place they never got to me. Sitting in my tree.
Alright, it wasn't exactly mine, it was situated in a wood not far from my childhood home. Officially, it was the council's tree, but as far as I was concerned the fact I knew the branches by heart made it mine.
After a particularly "challenging" week at work, topped off by a string of online abuse underneath my weekly column, I got that fat-bullied-kid feeling. Unsure of myself, worried and a bit sad. I decided that introducing my kids to my tree was the probably only place worth going – fun for them and probably good for me.
I'm not sure why I never took them before. I guess the older I get, the less I care about the playground bullies and the name calling. For a frumpy fat kid I had managed to do OK, brilliant in fact. A handsome husband accompanied by my gorgeous kids and a career(ish) so I knew there were worse ways to live.
So there we all stood under my tree, with the kids unsure of my intentions. I had warned them today I was going to show them something. Something great.
Daughter looks at me as if I had lost my mind. The opposite I thought... just a few branches up and my mind was exactly what I was intending to find.
I told them to just watch for a minute. I had forgotten the excitement and fear that clambering up gave me. I clearly also forgot I am 20 years older than the last time I climbed.
After a bit of a shaky start, I'm up. Suddenly my memory is back. My feet are a little bigger and my tree is a little older but we are still the same really, just both of us a little "weathered".
I get up to my favourite spot. Looking down, I can't help but laugh, preteen son and toddler daughter are standing open mouthed. Even husband looks up in fear. They didn't think I would do it.
I take a deep breath and look out through the leaves. My Tree, my place, and thankfully my mind is restored. How had I forgotten how great this feels? I shout down for them to trust me.
I spend the next hour bringing up each of my babies, coaching them through the slippery bits, helping them secure footing. Each of my little ones enjoy the achievement of finally getting to discover what mummy can see, alongside making it up alive. My heart almost bursts with pride. Carefully, we all make it down one by one unscathed with only the odd scratch and little bruise.
Dodging broken branches and nasty splinters has been the story of my life.