I have never struggled with worry. If I were to make a list of my greatest fears, it would be pretty short. It’s just not my particular struggle (believe me, I have plenty of others). I don’t like to think too much about tragedy and when I do, I just think of it as a part of life and just trust God for his timing and thank him for grace that we don’t have to live life in brokenness forever.
But, since becoming a mother, I’ve struggled with fear/worry in such a different way. I mean, I feel like my soul is now inextricably linked to this beautiful, feisty miniature human. It won’t always be this way, but right now, when she is her tiniest, and we as her parents are responsible for her every need, we are connected in such a strong way. The hard thing about that connection, is that we have very limited control over her vulnerability. I don’t have the power to prevent some of the hurts that she’s going to experience in life, and that’s so heart-wrenchingly difficult.
Nobody warned me about how vulnerable motherhood makes you. It’s so easy to get really caught up in the what-ifs. I find myself letting fear creep in and wrench my gut. My imagination races and my worst fears come to life in my mind. What if something bad happens? What if we don’t make it through this intersection unscathed? Before, when it was just me, that was one thing. But now? There’s a little life at stake–the most precious life I’ve encountered thus far. How would I go on if something happened to her? Sometimes, like tonight, I think the fear of “what-ifs” like this might cripple me.
I was totally blind-sided by these feelings once Ailey was born. Since I haven’t really been a worrier, I just assumed that would translate into parenthood as well. I told myself I just wasn’t destined to be that parent that hovers, scared of the world. But it is scary. And once there was more at stake, once this tiny girl entered the world and took hold of my heart like I didn’t realize was possible, the weight of it began to hit home. All of a sudden, I understood why my friend’s mom would obsessively check up on her while we were out. It became clear why mothers make their kids wait and wait to get their driver’s licenses. There’s so much more at stake, something I could never understand as someone who was only responsible for myself.
So now I understand. But how do I fight it? One thing I have always been grateful for about my mother is that she let us live. Sometimes that meant making mistakes and learning their consequences–but we learned. We were not sheltered, but fostered instead. We were taught to grow. Now I have so much greater of an appreciation for my mother, who must have fought the worry and fear of the unthinkable so that we could thrive. I want that for my children. I owe it to Ailey and to any others who are yet unborn.
I wasn’t expecting such a difficult balancing act to accompany my debut as a mother. How do you foster independence and confidence and curiosity in a little life while still protecting it? How do you completely surrender the dysfunctional side of the mama bear to let a confident person grow and discover the world?