Fear is a Many-headed monster

Posted on | August 24, 2012 | 4 Comments

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a tentative sort of person.

I keep three cars lengths between me and the car in front of me on the highway, I never ride in a car without my seat belt, and I always slow down for school zones.  I don’t participate in highly charged debates, I excuse myself from situations which could result in anyone’s anger, and I find myself saying “Can’t we all just get along” like it’s the prize at the bottom of my cereal box.  I floss.  I brush.  I don’t sit on strange toilet seats.  I am a follow the rules, don’t stray from the lines, please make sure no one’s feathers are at all ruffled kind of girl.

And it stems, primarily, from the cluster of fears that sit firmly on my shoulder: the fear that my opinion isn’t strong enough, the fear of repercussions, the fear of being talked about behind my back.  I fear the unexpected, the unknown, the un-allowed.

I am, by nature or nurture, a fearful person.

And since I became a mother, my fears have multiplied and reproduced.  They have morphed into a many-headed monster that perches on my shoulder, whispering to me of all the things that could go wrong at any given time.

When J was first born, I was scared all the time.  I was terrified he wouldn’t wake up when he closed his eyes.  I was chased and haunted and taunted by thoughts of him falling from my arms onto the concrete or getting his tiny head stuck in the crib rails.  I learned to tuck in, slow down, and scale back, reminding myself that I could only do the best I could do, whispering to myself that what will happen will happen. I learned to feed the beast on my shoulder in the dark, silent hours when I paced the floors in the absence of sleep, never allowing it to raise it’s head in sunlight.

As J grew, as he grows, my fears grow with him, no longer confined to the dreamless hours in the middle of the night, but stepping out into daylight for all the world to see.  I send him to daycare and grill the teachers the day after he comes home and says some strange man had a snake in his pants (Turns out it was a Nature Center visitor and yes, he had an ACTUAL snake in his pocket). I tell him that when he says “Stop” whatever someone is doing to him should be stopped immediately because only he has control over his body. I remind, I reprimand, I redefine his parameters.

I spread my worry over him like a woven blanket and as I weave I fear, too, that I am sculpting and molding him into a fearful child. The monster on my shoulder tells me it is good and right to give him the tools he needs to be strong.  The monster on my shoulder reminds me that evil happens everyday, that horrors take place down the street, that children are wounded with each tick of the clock.

But the mother in me, oh how she suffers.  Because how do you salvage the heart of a child, the sweet care-free nature of his mind, and the trusting spirit of his soul while building a fence around his body?

I am a fearful person.

And I am so scared I am doing it all wrong.


4 Responses to “Fear is a Many-headed monster”

  1. Annie
    August 24th, 2012 @ 9:55 am

    I, too, battle with a Goliath fear every day. It stems, in part, from having an overactive imagination (or so I tell myself). We can build fences around our children, but it may lead to them longing for a ladder. I don’t think any parent knows what to do; I don’t think there is a right way. We can just do our best and try not to screw them up too badly!
    Here’s my take on fear in the aftermath of the Aurora, Co. shootings:

  2. Tara Esquivel
    August 24th, 2012 @ 10:03 am

    My momma always told me that if you’re not worried about what your kid is into/up to/going to become, you’re not doing it right. That’s what moms do. Its just about balancing out the fears with the freedom, and from everything I read about your little guy, you seem to be doing that well 🙂

  3. Carrie
    August 24th, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

    It’s a fine line. Your feelings as a mother are so natural, that I would think something was wrong if you didn’t have fear for your son. But, it is a fine line. When we begin to teach our children about life and fear. We want them to be cautious and informed, but not so much so that they miss out on the beautiful parts of life because of their fear. Because, we want our children to be happy as well and keep a part of that wonderment we see in them when they are so young. Some of the greatest things to happen in my life were also some of the scariest. The awesome job I have now would have never been if I hadn’t taken a very scary step and walked away from the secure, well-paying job I had, but I’m so glad I did. My daughter, one of the best things that’s ever happened in my life would not be here if I had succumbed to my fear of child birth. And from reading your blog, I can tell that you’re not as fearful as you may think. Just look at your past year and all of the changes you’ve been through. That would scare the hell out of me, simply because change is hard and sometimes we don’t have a choice, but irregardless, you charged through it, fearful or not, and came through the other side and here you are, in a better place because of it. I’m sure your son sees that and knows that while it’s important to be cautious, we must never be afraid to do what’s needed. You seem like a model mother to me and in my opinion are doing a fantastic job raising a well-balanced child. Thank you for sharing, your words help me through this motherhood journey more than you know!

  4. jana
    August 24th, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

    Aah, fear. That sneaky beyotch. I’m so fearful of so many things… ::sigh::

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