All the Things that Terrify Me as a Mother
Can we talk for a minute about how scary it is to be a mother?
Going into this holiday season, I feel like my heart is both happy — and weighed down by the hard and scary stuff of life. When I look at my kids playing happily in front of me, I think of all the families who have lost children in their lives.
When I curl up under my warm blanket as the snow falls outside of my window, I think of everyone who is actually homeless out there in the world, people who are braving living in the conditions I complain about when all I have to do is sprint to my pre-warmed car.
When I sigh heavily as I clean up dinner, I think of the babies who are going to sleep with empty bellies tonight and it makes my heart heavy.
It's hard, isn't it, to count our blessings without feeling the weight of those blessings as well?
Being a mother, for me, has meant opening my heart and my mind up to all the scary parts of the world that, for some reason, I had managed to avoid before having kids. It's like motherhood peels your heart open and leaves it raw.
And that's hard.
I want to learn to balance my fear of everything that can go wrong in life — from everything I worry about for my kids, like cancer to drugs to car accidents — with all that can go right.
How do you do that? Honestly, now that I'm a mother I'm amazed that any parent survives it. The worry of a kid who can drive feels like it will do me in already. I used to think that I would sleep when my kids got older, but now I realize — if they are out there driving, I will probably never sleep again.
Sometimes I name the things that scare me as a mom — allergies, bullying, my kids never finding jobs, abduction, accidents, the zoo (I'm that mom that worries about my kid getting eaten by a random lion gone wild, OK?), bee stings, my marriage surviving, if my kids will remember me as a mom who was addicted to her computer, death in a myriad of horrible ways, and of course, the fact that my children may someday never visit me in what horrible nursing home I end in, old and covered in the chin hairs that continue to multiply at an alarming rate, despite the fact that I just turned 30.
Are your horribly depressed yet? I'm sorry.
But what I hold on to is, ironically, a quote from one of my favorite authors, the beloved writer behind the Anne of Green Gables series, L.M. Montgomery. In one of her books, the main character, Emily, is talking to a man who is dying and she is horrified by the cruelty and depravity she sees in the world, death included.
And the man, from his deathbed, acknowledges how awful things in the world can be. But still, he points out, pigsties may be real. But they are no more real than the beauty of a forest.
So yes, horrible things exist. But so do the beautiful moments. And those are the ones to hold onto.