I’ve always been a bit of a worry-wart. I can worry with the best of them, “What if she’s too hot sleeping in that outfit and then wakes up a million times tonight? What if the lightning strikes that tree and it falls on our house? What if I’m itching my eye and I get into a car wreck and I poke my finger through my eye?!” Yes, the worry ranges from typical everyday things to totally and completely outlandish and unlikely.
I like to thank my mother for my incessant worrying skills (sorry, Mom) because she’s always been a Grade-A worrier as well. For a long time it would drive me crazy. She’d worry about the most unlikely things! Little things and big things- things that would never have crossed my mind! ‘Why would she want to spend so much time and energy worrying about things that are NEVER going to happen,’ I’d ask myself.
And then I became a mother. And now I get it.
The day our children are born is the day our hearts start beating outside of our chests- vulnerable and unprotected. The day they come into our lives is the very day we realize that while we would do anything and everything we can to keep them safe and sound, the reality of life is that it often times doesn’t work out that way. That life is unexpected, and that situations are often times out of our control. And as a parent? That’s scary as hell.
We recently spent a nice relaxing week at the beach. But somehow I just couldn’t shake that thought of “What if?” I thought about sharks. I thought about waves that were too big. I thought about drowning or getting swept out to sea- things that had maybe all come across my radar at some point previously, but things that had never been more than just a fleeting thought before.
But now, as a mother, I find that more often than not, I have to fight to not let the fear of the unknown consume me. I can’t let worry get in the way of having a relaxing time at the beach with my family, and I can’t keep Madison from trying new things and having new experiences simply because I’m worried about all of life’s little (and big) “What if’s.”
Yes, as parents, we have to tiptoe that fine line in which we teach our children how to live their lives without instilling a constant fear that something bad could happen, but also keep them reigned in JUST enough to be cautious when the time is right.
Because the end game is that we can’t live our lives in a protective bubble (no matter HOW enticing that may sound some days) for fear of something bad happening- whether it be big or small. We have to let them live their lives. We have to let go, and we have to do it often: when they’re learning to walk, or ride a bike, or swim in the ocean, or go off to college. We have to teach them how to make smart choices, and be on the lookout, but not fearful- never fearful. They have to make their mistakes, and learn, and grow, and change and adapt, and as parents, that is HARD because we don’t want them to hurt, or suffer, or struggle.
But this is THEIR journey, and the most we can do is provide them with a safe way to explore and grow and learn along the way, and hope and pray that we’re doing all of this right.