My mother is, well, superwoman. She managed to have a successful career, marriage, AND raise three children so my “can I really have it all?” issues are even more personally compounded. That said, with different circumstances and in a different time, she was the exception, not the norm.
My sister is equally a superwoman of a different sort. She’s a pediatrician who sold her private practice to work part-time in another doctors office so that she could be at home more with her kids. Then there are the powerhouse mothers on my husband’s side — all this to say, when we got pregnant, I thought the mothering thing would come easy. And it did, for the most part. Instincts kicked in, along with several around the clock calls to my sister for advice, and my husband and I got into a great mommy and daddy rhythm.
But nobody prepared me for the elevated fear factor. I understandably went through the “what ifs” of having a baby–what if she swallows a small toy? What if she’s allergic to something or that vaccination causes an illness? What if she misses a major developmental milestone or something? What if there’s a tsunami in the middle of the night..what’s our escape plan? I worried and considered every possible thing imaginable and tried to anticipate and plan as best I could.
I didn’t however, plan on becoming so afraid of other things—heights, amusement park rides, car rides, large crowds, etc. Before kids, I wasn’t a dare devil or anything, but I certainly wasn’t afraid to drive over a high bridge in the outside lane or didn’t ever worry about possibly driving too fast and having a car accident.
With children, not only had my body changed, but also my fear factor indicator had changed. As a mother, I became concerned with my well-being in ways that I didn’t before having kids. This makes sense on many levels, I get that. As a mother I also worried about the question, what if something happens to me!?!? What will my children do then?
But the truth is, being a mommy has reminded me, in a somewhat brutal way, that these little beings are mine, but they’re not mine. I am blessed to be their mom, to be the vessel that brought them here and to be able to be with them each day, but their journeys, their decisions, their trials and tribulations, their talents and blessings, are theirs. I can’t take any of that on for them, no matter if it’s good or bad, but instead, can help them learn about faith, coping, love, gratitude, education, and the myriad of things they will need to become strong, healthy, and happy people. And God forbid something happen to me, I know the people I leave behind will equally do their best in my absence.
I don’t know if any parent ever really gets to the point where they’re just like “whatever” about their children and the slew of things that might happen to them personally or to their children. In that sense, perhaps it’s about accepting life in a new state of (parenthood-based) fear? I’ve been told that the teenage years will truly test my worries in ways that I can’t fathom as the mom of two little ones so yes, perhaps it is about that new state. And perhaps it’s also time to start regularly meditating.