My husband and my 9 year old are constantly making fun of me. They think that I am a big ole chicken. They aren’t wrong, I am actually afraid of almost everything. I miss the days when my fears were simple. Sharks, fish, birds, bats, spiders, snakes, unpredictable cats, haunted houses and flipping the channels during the month of October, terrified that a commercial for a horror movie would come on.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still afraid of all of these things, but there was a turning point when my fears became much more realistic. Despite some people trying to convince me otherwise, I knew that it was highly unlikely that all of a sudden sharks would appear in lakes when I was swimming and cats ‘probably’ can’t smell my fear and taunt me with a stare down.
However all innocent fears were put on the back burner once I had kids. It was around this time that I realized that I have very little control over them, and I was no longer sheltered from the big bad real world. Some might consider me overly cautious, but in my mind this is basic preparation.
Be afraid of everything, and then you aren’t surprised when it actually happens.
Intense fear starting creeping up on me all of the time. Having your first newborn baby spike fevers for no reason. Watching Ofeibea choke on asparagus during dinner, as her little terrified eyeballs practically popped out of their sockets. Sitting in the waiting room while teeny tiny baby Maeve had a spinal tap when the doctors suspected meningitis. Standing over the fountain at Sick Kids Hospital, convincing myself that if I gripped on to the coin as hard as I could while clenching my eyes shut as tightly as possible, mouthing “Please don’t let it be cystic fibrosis” over and over again – somehow my wish would come true.
Aside from a window commercial (we are still trying to figure this one out) and certain cartoon characters with menacing facial expressions and furrowed eyebrows, Maeve is the complete opposite of her scaredy-cat mom and she has no sense of fear.
A visit to the playground makes my heart race. I hate that place. I used to look for any excuse to get out of going: “Ah man. I just called the playground. They are closed again! Someone pooped on the slide. Ugh”. Any dangerous openings, high drops, the chance of her walking backwards down the slide or attempting to dive head first down the pole, Maeve seeks out these scary opportunities. All of this while worrying that I am not paying enough attention to her older sister, and someone might try to scoop her up while I’m occupied. Well-intentioned parents will try to encourage me to allow her to run free, as though I’m some uptight mom that won’t give her any freedom. Nobody understands the bizarre things I’m in fear of. I always have to try to stay two steps ahead. Meanwhile Maeve must like the adrenaline pumping through her veins, or maybe witnessing it happening to me? My fears when it comes to my kids are so odd. I don’t expect anyone to ever understand. I’ve given up on trying to explain myself.
I am super boring at parties now, I’m afraid to have a drink and relax like everyone else. What if something happens? Who will be able to drive her to the hospital? This all comes from experience. We once had to leave a dinner party early because we thought that Maeve had swallowed their fridge magnets. I realize my paranoia and fears aren’t just annoying to me, it makes me exhausting to be around as well. Whenever other parents are grateful that they can enjoy some kid free time and hang out in an adults only area while their kids run around and play out of sight, here comes fun Helicopter mom Steph! Sprinting from room to room fearful that Maeve is going to put something dangerous in her mouth or destroy something. This is why I have become so anti-social. She can not be left alone at all, and baby proofing no longer works. She is way too smart for that nonsense. She can hear the click of a child lock being disengaged, and waits until we aren’t paying attention in order to make her move. I am constantly terrified of what she might put in her mouth. Did she swallow that cleaning spray? Did she eat that Saran Wrap? What happened to the wheels on that toy car? I know I have to inspect her mouth.
I recognize her sounds. If she is mumbling and screaming out, I usually know that she is staying out of trouble. However if I hear her maniacal giggle, which is adorable to most people that hear it, it immediately puts me on edge. We are in the process of waiting for an EEG to determine whether or not these uncontrollable giggles are actually gelastic seizures. Imagine being afraid of your own child’s laughter.
These are real life grown-up fears. Gone are the days that I naively thought I was invincible. My current fear is that I will die while my girls are still young. Covid is not helping with this. Who is going to be the paranoid freak when I’m gone? What will happen to Maeve? Who is going to anticipate her every move? Who is going to watch out for her? I know that even at the age of 9 Ofeibea has already assumed that this will be her responsibility, but I can’t expect that of her. My sweet little Ofeibea. She has inherited my tendency to worry and fear everything as well. She is so sensitive and has such a tender heart. I feel as though she still needs me so much. I am getting older, and I have already had the odd health scare. Any time I get a tickle in my throat or a headache, I wonder if this is the thing that’s going to take me out. My poor husband won’t be able to do it alone, he is stressed enough as it is. With the aviation industry taking a massive hit these days, will he lose his job at 47? Do we have enough time to save money for our children’s future? I am just so scared. All. The. Time.
The last time I posted, I promised I would try to look on the bright side of things. I am finding this really challenging these days. I can’t hide from the thoughts that keep me up at night. I suppose the positive spin is that fear forces me out of my comfort zone. I am so fortunate to have these two amazing little girls, and a husband that still makes me laugh even through all of the scary stuff. Even though I am really not, I have to pretend that I am brave and that I can handle anything.
Be prepared to roll your eyes over the cheesiness that I am about to share. When I was out driving today, I noticed a flashing sign outside of a school and I loved it. Google tells me that it is lyrics to a country song that Maya Angelou had once quoted. This could be due to feeling inexplicably emotional today, but I almost started to cry. It just felt so comforting at the exact moment I needed it.
“Stay calm. Stay strong. Every storm runs out of rain”.
I am a stay-at-home mom in my 40s, still finding it hard to believe that this is my title in life. Mom of two young girls and married to a pilot (in other words… part time single parent). I am ‘Auntie Boom’ to Willowjak, and have the tattoo to prove it! My youngest was diagnosed with autism at 2, and finally a rare genetic disorder called DDX3X at 5. I’m almost always tired, and I feel as though my goal in life is to survive. I’m sure that I am not alone on this quest.