It is often easy to feel that you are alone in your paranoia & fears when you are a mother. We worry about so many things. Are we spoiling are children too much? Are we disciplining them enough? Are we handling tantrums the right way? Are we feeding them the right foods? These are things that things that we constantly wrestle with, but then there are other more irrational thoughts that we contend with as well.
This weekend we had a play date with a friend of mine and her children. We were having a discussion about how our kids would fall asleep in the car while running errands. We were joking that they need to come up with a babysitting service that will come to your car so that your children can continue to sleep while you complete your errands. My friend told me that sometimes she will run in to the ATM while her children sleep because she can still see them in the car. She then went on to say that this even worried her. What if someone kidnapped her from the ATM with the children in the car & nobody knew that they were in there?
This made me come out of my seat. I have had many crazy thoughts like this since our daughter was born. How many times have I thought of scenarios just like this? In one, I have just finished fastening her in the car seat. I go to return the carriage and get hit by a car and can’t tell anyone that my daughter is in the car. In others, I am home with her alone and fall down the stairs or collapse from a heart attack or some other ailment. How will she take care of herself until daddy gets home? Will she be scared? It’s funny that nowhere in my morbid fantasies am I concerned that I just got plowed down by a car or broke my neck tumbling down the stairs.
Death used to scare me. It still does, but now for different reasons. I worry that I might not be there to watch my daughter grow up and how it might affect her. My mind is a dangerous place filled with far too many fears. I thought as she got older it would get easier, but it hasn’t. It has just opened up a new set of worries. I still check on her every night. I still look to see that she is breathing. I often felt as if I was turning into a crazy person for feeling this way. It was a relief to find out that I was not alone.
Elizabeth Stone had it right when she said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I felt this from the moment my daughter was born. I cradled my own heart in my arms, I watched it roll for the first time, sit up & crawl.
My fears began before she even left my womb. I was afraid of everything. I wouldn’t stand in front of the microwave. I gave up coloring my hair. I wouldn’t even look at a cold cut sandwich. When my daughter was born, it was the happiest day of my life, but I was scared and so unsure of myself. When I slept, if I slept it was with one hand on her chest. I often woke up in the middle of the night startled, thinking that I fell asleep while I was nursing and somehow lost her in the bed. It was a horrible feeling. I kept thinking as she got older and past a certain stage, I would relax a bit. I was wrong, with each new stage brought a fresh new set of fears.
With a house full of safety bumpers, safety stools, child locks & outlet covers, I thought I was prepared, but there is always something dangerous for them to get into or get hurt on. I think to myself, my mother-in-law is a pretty good seamstress, maybe she can sew me a cute dress made of bubble wrap, with a matching helmet of course. I hear stories of school shootings and I decide that I am home schooling. I hear about about abductions and I think is it ok to microchip my child? It is absolutely terrifying thinking that I will not be able to always protect my child.
I sometimes have crazy, completely irrational scenarios that play out in my head. We went on a cruise in January, I could not stop worrying that she was going to fall off the ship. I know this can not be a healthy way of thinking. This weekend we went to a child’s birthday party. I noticed that I was the only mother shadowing my child. The children laughed and ran and played freely. I felt very uneasy watching her walk up and down the stairs of their porch. There was cement at the bottom of the stairs. What if she fell? I watched the children chasing one another. “Be careful, you might run into each other.” I came to the realization that I was the only one doing this. I truly am the over-protective mother.
I know that someday I will have to let her go down the stairs by herself, take the training wheels off her bike and send her off to her first day of school. She will get scratched knees and catch colds. She will get her feelings hurt and maybe have a heartbreak or two & I will feel her pain every step of the way. I pray to God everyday to keep my precious girl safe and to give me the strength to give her a little more freedom. Unless I can make a bubble wrap suit for two, I suppose I am going to carry these fears with me until the day that I die and then I will worry about her from above.