It has recently occurred to me how much I let fear affect my life. When I am negative and I act ugly to other people, it’s likely because I’m feeling insecure or my feelings are hurt. It pains me to admit this, because most people who know me think I am pretty strong. I thought I was pretty strong. But I think I could be even stronger if I made a conscious effort to recognize when I am fearful about something, acknowledge that fear, and decide how I want to handle the situation, rather than just letting the fear make me passive-aggressive and negative. I think it takes a lot more strength to admit fault, admit moments of weakness and admit we are not perfect, rather than trying to be perceived as “strong” and acting like an a-hole.
Now there is a fine line between fear and worry… all parents worry: “Am I making the best decision for my family?” “Did I handle that situation correctly?” “Are my kids on the right path to becoming happy, healthy and productive citizens?” “Have I taught them all they need to know?” — fundamental questions every parent asks themselves at some point. But I think I tend to let this healthy amount of cautiousness snowball into fear.
When I drop my daughter off at a friend’s house or a football game, my worry goes into overdrive and I start thinking up every possible irrational, cataclysmic thing that could go wrong. What if there were a national emergency and I couldn’t get to her? What if kids are openly having sex in the bleachers? What if they leave the game and she goes joyriding with 20-year-old guys and they wreck? When this happens, I end up texting her, “I love you.” Just so she knows I’m thinking about her. She always responds with some version of “I love you too. Stop worrying, I’m fine. ;)” or “I love you too. I am being good, I promise. Stop stalking me. ;).” (In my defense, I’ve never actually stalked her, but clearly I’ve made her feel I am fearful enough to have done so – lol.)
Since she actually has a “normal” social life these days, I have recognized my fear and I have even admitted to my daughter that it was a lot easier for us when she was grounded all the time. I never had to wonder where she was, who she was with, what they were doing, if she would be strong or if she would try to fit in with the crowd by any means necessary. Although she is a 15 now, we haven’t really had to deal with her “growing up” yet, and let’s face it, dads prefer it that way with their “little girls” (and he has the final say, though she spends most of her time with me, at the end of the day he is her dad and I am her stepmom).
Now I’m not saying I think we were wrong for grounding her when we have. I feel as though if we’d let up at all, we wouldn’t be where we are today, which is a great place.
So this place I am in today, wrought with worry, must be what it feels like to take your baby to their first day of school in kindergarten or daycare and leave them. The child’s excitement is infectious, but at the same time you are scared to death that you won’t be with them. Yes it’s true, I have dropped her at the football stadium gate, smiled and waved, and driven a whopping 6 blocks home in tears. Whether age five or 15, you have to let them go.