I used to be pretty fearless. I would not give a thought to my mortality, to danger, to potentially bad situations or how anything might turn out. I laughed in the face of fear. Then something happened – I had children.
Practically overnight my entire being was taken over by The Fear and it’s never left since. It is inevitable when you become a parent to a point where it almost becomes another child.
The Fear is demanding, it keeps you awake at night, it doesn’t give you a minute’s peace and, sometimes, it needs to be ignored.
This is how The Fear started with me:
• Fear of being responsible for another person’s life FOREVER
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• Fear that I might hurt the baby, he might get ill or somebody might steal him
• Fear that my body would never be the same again
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• Fear that my husband would find a more ‘intact’ model
By the time I had my second child, I was an expert at being a mum of course, so The Fear subsided for a while. It was still there, because it never leaves you completely, but it metamorphoses like a shape-shifting alien parasite that feeds off your every thought.
It manifested like this:
• Fear of being stuck at home and my life being very ‘small’
• Fear that I had no identity except being a mum
• Fear of being tired, being woken up early and of kids bedtime
• Fear that I was very boring and all I had to say was “I changed five nappies today”
As children grow, The Fear starts to grow with them. It changes in the way that they change and often surprises you. With every new experience there comes the trepidation of what may or may not happen – the angst that you’re not doing it right, the dread of the teacher wanting to “have a word”, the playground mums and nits, always nits.
You hear yourself saying the things that your parents said and often your kids think you’re embarrassing. Bedtime becomes your worst nightmare and sometimes you will run out of wine.
You will stress about your kid not sleeping then when they are asleep you’ll wake them because you’re scared they’re not breathing. The things that you laughed at will now become the very things you fear the most.
Just when you think you are beating it, it comes back bigger, stronger and in ways that you could not have imagined.
I am now frightened of things that I used to enjoy like rollercoasters and flying.
I am scared that everything I do is messing up my children.
I dread homework.
Tantrums terrify me.
I worry about illness, hangovers, never sleeping again, something bad happening, death, being seen naked, privacy, my husband going to work, the teenage years – in fact lots of things that I never gave a second thought to before I had children.
My anxiety over my brain not being used is actually laughable because since becoming a parent it actually works overtime.
The Fear wins almost every time.
Ah but it will never stop me from having coffee with my mates or doing some retail therapy or watching Desperate Housewives.
Because sometimes you have to realise that the only real thing to fear is The Fear itself and once you comprehend this you get back to being lazy and wasting the days and getting by on minimal parental responsibility.
And only then can you laugh in the face of fear.