I’m scared of everything. It’s weird, but true. Fear DEEPLY rooted itself in my being a LONG time ago, starting with the dark. I was (ok…still am), petrified of what I literally could not see, what I could not control. I would make my dad go sleep in another bedroom so that I could crawl in with my mom in the darkest hours of the night. Semi-acceptable when you’re five. Not so cool when you’re EIGHTEEN (not a joke).
Now, as a mother to a three year old and six month old, I recognize my fear manifested in so many other ways. I’m scared they won’t wake up the next day, I’m scared someone will take them, I’m scared I’ll lose them, I’m scared we won’t be able to provide the life I think they need, I’m scared I won’t be able to control external circumstances such as finances, I’m scared my husband and I won’t set a good example for them, I’m scared the nanny isn’t being nice enough to them, I’m scared someone ate too much or too little, I’m scared I’m letting the three year old watch too much TV, I’m scared we’re not cultivating their hearts the “right way”, I’m scared that I left the bottle out too long and now it’s sour and our 6 month old is going to vomit (but I’m not wasting that milk).
Too be perfectly honest, one day I was SO convinced that Ebola had infected our family, we took my three year old to Urgent Care for a screening. WHAT? And the worst of it all? I’m scared that they feel some of my fear, and then I’m scared that THEY’RE scared. I mean, all of it, it’s absurd. But it’s also exhausting. To be scared all of the time.
The other night my three year old and I were home sans “Dada”, it was dark (I should be ok with the dark by now, it does happen EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT.) and I was putting her down. The lights were out, and we heard a big loud noise that sounded like someone knocked something over in the house. Which would be impossible, because the only other person in the house was my 6 month old and that top heavy bubba can’t even sit up, much less move furniture (and he was also asleep in his crib). SO, obviously…it scared me (shocker), like, A LOT. I could PHYSICALLY FEEL my three year old sense my fear.
As I’m trying to flee the darkness of her room, while feigning security and bravado…she’s calling out to me: “Mama don’t leave”, “Mama, don’t let anyone come in to my room”, “Mama, can you lay down with me”. This is coming from a three year old that essentially says, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. She’s fiercely independent. And when I heard that tremor in her voice…my heart broke into a million pieces, because I knew what she was feeling. And I wanted to die, because I had MADE her feel as such. I am her care taker. I am her rock. I (and my husband of course but he doesn’t enjoy writing about feelings, so I’ll stick to me) am supposed to make her feel safe. And here I am darting out of her dark room, flicking up every light switch in the house. What kind of crap example is that?
This past Saturday we went to the Children’s Aquarium in Fair Park (ummm, who even knew that existed? Not me. But Dallas Moms Blog did.) where you can feed the sting rays. I told my three year old I would do it first… because she was scared.
I am not exaggerating when I say…it was worse than the darkest of dark nights. I could NOT stick my hand under that water with all of those little sting ray mouths. Which is HYSTERICAL considering they cannot harm you, and there’s even a video of me pathetically saying, “I’m too scared”. It was beyond all logic and completely irrational, but it left me motionless. Yet that’s the nature of the fear beast, it paralyzes us to the point that we can’t even think. Or more appropriately, all we can do is think about our feelings of fear. BUT, maybe that’s the thing…maybe we need to quit thinking. Maybe we’re supposed to just do. And that’s what I did, I dove my hand with that stinky disgusting dead fish into that tank of weird sting rays. And it was fun. In fact, I kept wanting to do it (even though my three year old wasn’t THAT down with it).
I don’t have a breathtakingly amazing conclusion, maybe a lot of people already know this, but the older I get, the more I learn about myself and life in general. Fear’s place in my life is what I allow it to be. Clearly there are circumstances in which fear is VERY real… a sick child, an accident, etc. BUT for the most part, my fear is unfounded because it revolves around things that HAVEN’T EVEN HAPPENED. My fear of the unknown, the unseen… it’s dominating my thoughts and as a result, my behavior towards the ones I love most. I want to be more for my family, I want to be the parent that fosters a “safe” feeling of security for my babies. And I think sometimes, that takes dealing with the fear, not dwelling in the feelings of fear.
So, next time I’m scared to death while laying in my three year old’s tiny toddler bed, I’m just going to close my eyes, sit in that fear, hold her little hand and tell her it’s all going to be okay. And I’m going to believe it, because it is. I realize that this is horrendously over simplified, horrificly naive and entirely way too optimistic. But, you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?
Cheers to kicking fear out the door in 2015!