Sunday, November 21, 2010

In general, I'm not a fearful or anxious person.  Maybe it's my German heritage or my pig-headedness....fear and anxiety stand in the way of forward progress, right? There is stuff to do around here and I don't have time to be mulling over the 'what-ifs' very often.  But, I do have my moments.  This moment comes every year at the start of cold and flu season (at least since L got sick), when I start hearing the trends of illness increasing and I'm hit by The Fear.  The Fear is at it's peak when you hear that a child that was at your house 2 nights before is in the ER with a stomach bug, or that someone in Lilah's class came to school with a fever--2 days in a row! (her teachers sent him home because they are awesome.  that mom=not awesome).

I know all moms (and I hear reports of some dads, but they must be more far sighted than the ones I know) have The Fear.  No one wants their kids sick.  It sucks for them and it sucks for us.  Life comes to a screeching halt, schedules are whack, you get even less sleep than before, and on top of that, your kids are so whinny you want to stick your head in the oven--and keep it there.  But for me (and lots of others, just not ones I know), The Fear sends my preparedness into overdrive.  Keeping hospital bags packed, making the house somewhat organized in case I'm gone for a week, watching my 'help's' schedules so I'll know who's on deck if I need them.  I'm embarrassed to say, at least a significant portion of The Fear is driven by an intense hatred of the hospital.  And not "oooh, I hate the hospital" b/c obviously, they are great--I want to slap people that say they don't like to go visit people in the hospital because it's so sad.  I just hate to 'live' there for extended amounts of time.  (Although, to be fair--I don't know the half of it.  There are people who's children spend months and months there).

The Fear makes me want to keep my kids at home, sequestered away from life and it's germs.  No school, no friends, no outings, no church.  And this phase lasts about 3 days....until I am C.R.A.Z.Y!! Then I move to obsessive use of antibacterial wipes, hand washing, and an outlaw of shared sippy cups.  And then, I get lazy and move back to our normal state of "do the best you can" (which, between us is probably a step down from my best, but operating at Code Red all the time wears me out!).  This is where I have a pep talk with myself, which goes something like this:

1.  You can't live life in a bubble.  It's bad for you, for your children, for your family.  A sheltered life is not living.

2.  It's better for Lilah to experience what little she can of the world, even if it means getting sick. And Garrett deserves as normal a life as possible.

3.  You can be an uber-germ-freak and they still get sick.  It's what they do.

4.  A certain amount of it is 'now or later', says Lilah's cardiologist.  I always choose bad news first...let's get it over with.

5.  All of her days were written in His book before even one of them came to be.  (Psalm 139).  This is the truth and it reminds me that it's not up to me.

And that gets me to drop the nerve pills (a la Betty Draper, except I think she always takes them) and have The Peace, which is even more powerful than The Fear and way better.   Because nothing is more freeing than knowing 'it's not up to me'.  Life, and especially parenting, is huge and overwhelming and full of a kazillion pressures and fears....and if I thought I had to do it all on my own, perfectly....or that my children's fates rested solely in my hands....I would a slit second.  So instead, I just do the best I can and trust that it's not up to me.  That way I can get back to things that planning my Turkey Day feast.  In the immortalized words of 2 year old Garrett Burch:  " Dobble, Dobble" !

**edited to note:  Before you start thinking I'm some sort of a jedi, who's conquered The Fear...I just noticed that The Fear has caused a mysterious rash all over me.  That, or it's that virus that kid down the street had last week.  Excuse me.  I have to go take my vitamins.


Abu Yossi said...

what you described caused me to think back to how i was feeling in ashkelon - the fear of "what was that explosion?", and "is that the start of a wave of katyushas?", or "where is the safest place to dive behind if it starts?". i'd feel guilty for feeling worried or afraid that something life-threatening would happen to my family. but then again i'd have to say "screw it", if something in your life is life-threatening for your child and/or spouse you'd BETTER be worried and as prepared as you can.

of course it's better to not have those things in your life that are the source of the potentially life-threatening situations. but if that is not realistically avoidable, then you have a duty as a parent and a human being to worry in the sense of being alert, vigilant, and concerned. what makes you crazy is worrying if you're worrying too much, and that isn't good in any way.

Kristin said...

I can relate. Next week, my 3-month-old starts daycare as I return to work after a whirlwind maternity leave. I also have a healthy 3-year-old so I've done this before. It's a little different this time around, however, as the new baby has Down syndrome and is recovering from open heart surgery. Would love to put her in a bubble, but we all know that's just not possible. So... here I am adjusting to a new reality of caring for a child with special needs and also trying to overcome The Fear. It's comforting to know others share that emotion and are coping. Thanks for your post. Happy Thanksgiving!