Am I alone in experiencing fear like I never had before since having children? I wouldn’t describe my pre-child self as fearless or reckless, but when I look back at some of my choices through “mom lenses” I now would be so angry with my kids for taking those unnecessary risks, and I don’t just mean the risk of physical injury. Is it age that makes us wiser, or is it that we now have little lives that we value more than anything else in this world that makes us so much more in tune with the dangers around every corner?
I didn’t use to consider myself overly emotional but now find it difficult to read the newspapers or even my Facebook feed because it is peppered with stories of children who have been abducted or abused. I can feel the tears streaming down my face just reading the headlines . . . Toddler Beaten to Death by Babysitter, Child Left to Die in Car Seat at Daycare, Child Abducted by Estranged Father, Toddler Sexually Abused by Neighbor, etc. I check in on my children numerous times a day even though I know they are perfectly safe. I spend my free time perusing the sex offender registry to see who may be lurking near our home, my child’s school, and places they play. These are just the things that I have some control over, but what about all the things that could happen that I don’t?
I am not one to assume the worst, or get caught up in the “what if’s”, but there are seemingly endless crowd-sourcing pages set up for children with life-threatening illnesses, or who have suffered catastrophic injuries. My heart truly aches for these families in a way that I never imagined possible, and I put myself in their shoes and wonder if I could make it through something like that. When I am not worried about something happening to them, I fear that something could happen to me and that I wouldn’t be here to protect them. Sometimes it is utterly exhausting being this scared all the time, and I wonder in every happy minute of my life if something disastrous is about to take all of that away.
Other questions that constantly run through my head . . .
Will they have learning difficulties? Will they be bullied? Will they have a hard time making friends? Will they feel different? Will they be depressed, or have low self-esteem? Will I come home one day to find that my child had been secretly suffering and taken his own life? These are not crazy or far-fetched scenarios, and it has unfortunately become far too common.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and I am sure there are some even more unlikely fears that have played out in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an anxiety problem, and I am a relatively upbeat and positive person, but these fears are literally another parent’s reality.
I know that I can’t let my fear affect my parenting, or let it trickle down to my kids. I want them to live life fully, and without fear of normal life changes and experiences. I am fine taking on the responsibility of their protector and I don’t want them to miss out because something may be challenging or have an inherent danger. Life is an adventure and fear can be crippling. I know that until they have children of their own they won’t fully understand why I am so protective, or why I worry about them constantly.
I retrain my thoughts to all of the endless potentials that they have and the full lives that I hope lay ahead of them. I know that I can only control so much, so I protect them the best I can and make sure that they never question the depths of my love for them, no matter what. That is really the best any of us can do in this scary world.
Do you experience fear as a parent? How do you manage those fears?