I considered myself pretty adventurous before becoming a mom. I had the usual fears of spiders, snakes, not figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then, I became a mom.
It was as if wrapped up with all the onesies and receiving blankets one gets, came with them a bundle of fears. These were fears that had never occurred to me: SIDS, child abduction, broken bones, and a million other scenarios that my brain creates from who knows where.
I think that parenthood and anxiety go hand in hand. We’re bombarded by facebook posts warning us about the dangers of everything: cribs, co-sleeping, going down the slide, walking outside unattended. The fear piles on and it is enough to leave one crippled, not wanting to ever leave the house lest something happen. What is the price of giving in to all this fear?
Fear has this way of talking you out of doing things. Call it fear, call it anxiety, call it trying to do the right thing. But in the end, giving power to the fear has a much higher cost than actually living your life.
Fear strips us and our children of valuable experiences because we are too afraid. It also takes our peace of mind.
I’m not even talking about the giant fears. I’m talking about those annoying little fears, the ones that do nothing but strip away the fun from life. Like:
Fear of a mess: How many times have we said no to an activity because we are afraid of a resulting mess? Cooking with kids memories of creating something in the kitchen with you. A bonus of facing this fear: eventually they will be able to cook for themselves. This will save you time and headaches in those HUNGRY teenage years.
Another example, missing out on the joys of puddles and mud or valuable nature time because you fear the muddy mess. That’s what garden hoses are for! Just tell your kids it is time to play car wash. Bonus: clean car!
Fear of other mothers: How often have you second guessed your parenting because of a look, or a facebook or real life comment? While there are some definite mean moms and sanctimommies out there. The majority of moms are just trying to get through the day, just like you.
I’m sure my “I haven’t slept in days and my children are terrors” look might look judgy, but I am actually just trying to keep my eyes open and my children alive. If the mom really is mean, why would you care what she thinks? I try not to concern myself with the thoughts of jerks.
Fear of not being enough : Ugh, I get hit with this one a lot. All I can say is that this is in our heads. If you are reading this, you are enough. Kids have been surviving for thousands of years without Pinterest perfect childhoods, yours will survive (and thrive!). Kids don’t need the brightest, shiniest, most magical childhood. They just want to play with the cardboard box anyway, don’t be too hard on yourself.
So how does one deal with all this fear? I’m by no means an expert as this is still a battle I fight everyday. But here’s what I have found to help: think FAR and not FEAR. I try to to step back from whatever I’m afraid of and think about the long term effects of giving in to that fear.
What experiences am I depriving my kids of if I let the fear win? What lessons am I holding them back from by trying to shield them and myself from life? Usually the risks of not facing that fear far outweigh the risks of the perceived fear in my head.
So, what are you afraid of?