I’ve been writing this post for a long time. Not actually writing it, but letting it float around in my mind, pick up dust, become something safe to share.
Parenting is strange. It brings out your best and your worst, all in the same breath. Suddenly I am stronger, but then I am brought to my knees. Weak with worry, weak with love, weak with fear.
My fears with Waylon started early.
It is not uncommon for new mothers to obsessively worry about their babies. SIDS hangs over us like a dark cloud, causing restless nights and panicked sprints to the nursery. I tried not to think about it when I stared at my newborn’s face, but every night I had the same prayer, “Please let him live.” A year later, my prayer is not so different. My fear consumes me at night, the darkness closes in and there I am, heart pounding, wondering what would happen if he wasn’t there the next day.
When I share this with friends, they assure me it’s normal. Of course you worry about your child. But at 1am when I’m still lying there, listening to every creak of the house, wondering if someone is creeping up the stairs–I think, “this is not okay.”
In my limited defense, I am not a person prone to worry about germs, bumped heads, or high fevers. You will not find me ringing my hands over choking or wondering “Is that chicken pox?!” But I do fear others. I worry about baby snatchers and unneighborly neighbors. I worry about facing life without one of my limbs, because that’s what children are, an extension of ourselves.
I hesitate to write about this in the daylight. It all seems so silly now. As Austin often says, everything is the same at night. It’s just dark. He tries to be reassuring and I try to be reassured, but this fear of Waylon being taken or harmed at night is just a part of a larger problem that continues to grow. Despite a healthy and untraumatic childhood, I am afraid of the dark. My overactive imagination kicks in and all of a sudden I can’t do anything else but picture someone who looks a lot like Kevin Bacon waiting around the corner with a knife.
I blame the movies, I blame Dateline, I blame my sensitive psyche. Mostly I just blame myself for being such an ignoramus. No matter what the cause, fear finds me every night over the hum of the monitor and noise machines. It finds me lying there and shows me horrible things. Things I would never repeat out loud.
And so I whisper please Jesus and everything is okay. I take my deep breaths and wait for sleep. It’s all I can do.
Our darkest fears are often the most revealing. My hope is that they aren’t defining. My hope is that the more we say I am not afraid, the quieter fear becomes.
We press on.