I grew up knowing that I would be a mother. I had an idea of what motherhood would be like. But there’s one thing I wasn’t prepared to experience after becoming a mother: it is the SCARIEST thing I’ve ever done.
Suddenly, you are in charge of raising a child to become an independent adult someday. Everything thing you do leading up to that counts.
You simply can’t fail at this job.
We try to appear strong and confident in our ability to parent our children, but deep down, we’re probably afraid.
We’re afraid that we’re doing it all wrong. We’re afraid that we’re not doing enough or that we’re doing too much. Sometimes we’re afraid that we just can’t make it another day.
I remember an experience where I felt true fear as a parent. The kind that paralyzes you, that causes you to forget everything else happening in your life, The kind that forces you to think solely on one thing: an unknown.
There was a big unknown staring me in the face, yet I was afraid to face it. For many years I didn’t, until finally I realized that my fear of the unknown was causing my family to unravel and we had reached our last thread. It was time to face that fear, no matter how scared I was. It was time to find out if my child had autism.
She had already been evaluated by the school district the year before, though she was diagnosed with global delays. I’m pretty sure I even told the psychologist that she didn’t have autism, and that she would grow out of her little behaviors. He didn’t argue with me about it, most likely because of her young age.
But then things got worse.
Her teachers and specialists gathered around a table to reveal their findings. “Autism” was officially added to her records. In the forefront of my mind was the fear of what her future now held and though everything felt so up in the air, it also depended on what I could do for her as a mother.
Talk about intense pressure.
I silently cried during the meeting, but those tears meant that I was no longer hiding in fear of the autism diagnosis for my daughter. It meant that I had escaped the prison of fear I’d locked myself into for the past few years.
I was willing to face it all. It was like stepping into the light after a long, long darkness.
I could admit my fear, and I was ready to do something about it.
Until that moment, I ignorantly assumed that I was the only parent out there with such vivid fears. When you look around at other parents and see nothing but strong, happy countenances, how could I believe that anyone felt as afraid as I did?
Now that the diagnosis was in the open, I began talking more openly with other parents. I began to realize that I wasn’t the only parent who felt fear.
Fear is a common emotion experienced by many parents, regardless of the circumstances or the needs of the child. I felt better knowing that I wasn’t alone. I knew that moving forward, I could be stronger because I’d finally faced my fears.
If you have experienced fear as a parent, I’ve found it’s better to admit these fears to others. You might find that you are in great company, and that in sharing your fears means, you create your own tribe – a support system to get you through the many challenges parents’ encounter and to provide guidance along the way.
After all, each new stage in parenting is coupled with wholly new and different fears.
Remember that if you’re afraid, you’re a-okay.