The Fear

by Claire Smith
Originally Published: 

I used to be pretty fearless, never giving a thought to my mortality, to danger, to potentially bad situations or outcomes. I practically laughed in the face of fear. Fear? HA! Fear be gone!

Then something happened… I had children.

The Fear started with the realization that I was responsible for another person’s life FOREVER. There is that quote about how giving birth means your heart is now walking outside of your body. Outside of your body? It’s like becoming a parent is to be stuck in the worst horror movie ever. It terrifies me.

In the early days, The Fear of hurting the baby was overwhelming — I literally thought I could kill him at any point just by cuddling him, putting his diaper on the wrong way or accidentally feeding him meatballs. Don’t even get me started on my postpartum body — is there anything more frightening?

As my children grow, The Fear isn’t going anywhere. It changes in the way that they change and often brings surprises. With every new milestone there comes the trepidation of what may or may not happen – the angst that I’m not doing it right, that I’m ruining them, that I’m not providing enough for them to reach their potential and lice, always lice.

I stress about my kids not sleeping, then when they are asleep I wake them to check if they’re still breathing. I take them to fireworks because I want them to have great childhood memories, then spend the whole night thinking a rocket will shoot directly at them. A family trip to the coast becomes the stuff of nightmares because of the drowning potential. In fact all of the things I used to enjoy now become the very things I fear the most.

And just when I think I am beating The Fear, it comes back bigger, stronger, in ways that I could not have imagined and it has a brilliant sense of humor.

I am now frightened of things that I used to love, like roller coasters and flying.

I dread homework.

I won’t ever buy a piece of furniture with a slightly sharp edge.

I can’t watch the news because I think it’s going to happen to my children, even if it’s a fun item like Kitten Stuck Up A Tree.

Tantrums terrify me.

I worry about illness, hangovers, death, being seeing naked, bullying, strangers, privacy, the teenage years…

It’s laughable because, as the parent, I spend time ensuring that my children are secure and fear-free.

But it turns out I’m the biggest baby of them all.

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