When we first brought him home, I was terrified he’d stop breathing. I’d forgo sleep in the name of sanity, an oxymoron I still can’t wrap my mind around. I’d stare at his chest, watching it go up and down enough times to quell the fear that he’d be taken from me without warning, reason, or control. A fear that continuously clawed its way to theforefront of my brain, pushing aside logic and squishing statistics.
Ah, the good ole days.
Now my worries are vast and endless. I no longer fear my child won’t make it through the night. Now, my concerns are grander, my anxiety greater, and my terror so outstanding Iswear it has the power to choke me standing.
Simply put, I spend an overwhelming amount of my time being afraid.
I’m afraid I’m not enough. That I won’t be the mother he needs, when he needs me. That I’ll somehow lack the will or strength or resolve to be the foundation he needs to one day stand on his own.
I’m afraid of making a mistake. One wrong word or narrow misstep could leave him shelling out $100 an hour to an over-priced psychologist, detailing the downtrodden moments of his childhood.
I’m afraid I won’t be strong enough when he needs me to be.
I’m afraid I’ll be too strong and leave him incapable of relying on his own strength when the time comes.
I’m afraid I’ll one day be so exhausted I’ll end up cutting essential corners.
I’m afraid I will fail to explain the grey areas of life. How can I help him understand why love isn’t enough or why good people die young or why we hurt the ones we love? How can I describe a hate that uses religion as a reason to kill, or a love that uses devotion as a reason to destroy?
I’m afraid I won’t be there when he needs me the most. The world’s terror has found it’s way into elementary schools and shopping malls. What if it eventually finds him, and I’mnot there?
I’m afraid that if I am too protective he’ll enter the world without the tools he needs to succeed.
I’m afraid that if I’m too inattentive he’ll make a mistake with consequences so severe, there is no recovery.
I’m afraid that working means I’m neglecting him.
I’m afraid that not working means I’m giving up on one day providing him every possible advantage.
I’m afraid my biases impact his view on the world. Am I approaching everything as open as he is? Can I leave what I have learned at the door so he can decide for himself?
I’m afraid if I don’t teach him what I’ve learned he’ll make the same mistakes I did.
I’m afraid I’ll keep him from making the mistakes essential to acquiring the depth ofknowledge he’ll one day so desperately need.
I’m afraid of him experiencing an ounce of pain. Can I teach him to persevere? Can I equip him with the knowledge that it does, in fact, get better.
I’m afraid of my past effecting his future.
I’m afraid I won’t know what to say when the only words he wants to hear are mine.
I’m afraid I’ll say too much, and drown out his voice when it is the only voice that shouldbe heard.
I’m afraid I’ll love him too much, and that love will be more detrimental than beneficial, more crippling than supportive.
I’m afraid he’ll see the real me and find me weak and ineffectual.
I’m afraid he’ll never see the real me, and therefore never be granted the silent permission to be weak or scared or, gulp, human.
I’m afraid he’ll adopt my fears as his own.
And when it all gets too overwhelming and I feel the hands of complete and utter terror cinching themselves around my neck, I remember the moments when my biggest worry was whether or not he’d survive the night. I look at him, with his inquisitive eyes and toothless smile, and I remember: If I could survive the sleepless nights when I was terrified he’d die, I can survive the fears of his unknown future.
Related post: The Myth of Protection