I’ve never gotten used to the fear I experience as a parent. I go to that worst-case scenario all too often when possible danger may exist.
To give you an idea, when my oldest was first born and go to sleep:
My first thoughts would be how precious, what a beautiful creature, I can’t believe I’m a mom. That’s right, I’m a new mom, I’m not an experienced mom, I have to keep my child alive and what if they stop breathing during the night? How would I know they stopped breathing? I’ve got the monitor on, but what if it doesn’t work for some reason or I don’t hear him? Should I not sleep and just watch them all night?
I experienced this when both my children were newborns. After no sleep for several days, my husband and I agreed sleeping in shifts would be one way to make sure we both got sleep and I didn’t worry incessantly that my child would pass away at any given moment. My extreme thinking wasn’t healthy, and didn’t allow me to fully experience the joy of being with my child. I was consumed with something bad happening at any moment.
Several months ago our family went to see The Wizard of Oz at our local children’s theatre. I was a little concerned that my children might not be old enough for the story. My husband and I were prepared to be asked questions about tornadoes, flying monkeys and wicked witches afterwards, and while they were curious about the monkeys and the wicked witch, they were particularly concerned about tornadoes. We talked about the tornadoes on the way home, and the boys wanted to know “do tornadoes really happen?” and “do they happen here?” You could hear the fear in their voice. We assured the kids that in the northwest tornadoes are very uncommon, and we have weatherman/woman who can warn us if one may happen.
We can’t protect our children from everything, and I pray we will never experience the wrath a tornado brings. I do want them to enjoy life and not be constantly worrying that something bad will happen. I don’t want them to go the worst-case scenario like I do. I want to teach them to lean into the joy they are experiencing, not fear that something bad is going to happen to them. We plan to go camping again this year. You may recall we encountered thunder and lightning on our last camping trip. It was scary for my youngest son and me. As we have talked about the upcoming trip, my youngest son has started to ask if a tornado could occur at the camp site. I can hear the slightest fear in his voice as he asks. I reassure him that there is little chance it will occur and if it does, mom and dad will do everything we can to keep everyone safe. I don’t want my son to fear the possibility of tornadoes, and take away from his enjoyment of our camping experience. Yes, bad things can happen, I remind myself, but mostly its out of our control, and much like fretting over a newborn as they sleep. All we can do is take precautions to make sure everyone is safe. It sounds so logical, reasonable and easy when I tell myself this. And so much harder to practice in reality.
There will always be some part of me that will worry about my boys, and likely always will, but I believe I’ve tempered my fears and am working to enjoy my time with them, and not consume my thoughts with the worst-case scenario. I can’t control what happens next, but can be there to participate and enjoy each moment as it happens now.
How do you handle your children’s fears? How do you handle yours?