I've been fortunate - Charlotte's been an extraordinarily easy child (I know she'll pay me back tenfold for this when she's a teenager). Her little personality is already starting to show - she's fearless when she's relying solely on herself, exploring and testing her boundaries. She's timid with strange people and strange places. She's serious, inquisitive, and stubborn as all hell.
It's odd to say this, but she's really the most laid-back toddler I've ever encountered. Yes, we have a tantrum from time to time as she tests her boundaries but, for the most part, she accepts the "rules." The stubbornness comes into play when she's tired or when she's learning something new. If she's determined to learn a skill (like how to climb onto a shelf, for example), she won't quit until she gets it. And, once she's figured it out, she'll do it over and over and over until she's perfected it. If she somehow hurts herself in the process, she cries briefly and then gets right back on task. She's a tough little cookie!
I remember Charlotte's first nightmare, a couple months ago. I went to comfort her, lifting her from the crib, and she melted against me. As I held her close, I felt the fear drain from her body, and she drifted back into slumber.
I pondered how odd it is that fear creeps into our lives at such a young age - and STAYS. Because, as I pressed the warm weight of her 20 pound body against mine, her fear absorbed into me. It was like I'd taken it from her via some sort of weird maternal osmosis. Suddenly I felt a stab of terror grip me, wondering what the future might hold for her... knowing that the world can be a very, very dark place.
I've had to fight a lot of anxiety since becoming a mother. From time to time, this crippling fear overwhelms me: what if something terrible & senseless happens to her??? I, despite all my vigilance, am incapable of protecting her from everything.
So what can I do? I don't want to stunt her development by making her a bubble kid (believe me, I've been tempted), so I guess I'm just going to hold my breath and PRAY.
And, while I'm not at all a religious person, I've found myself breathing a three-faceted prayer since becoming a mother:
- Protect her from predators; have them see through her, let her pass them unnoticed.
- Protect her from the reckless; shield her from the danger of their bad choices and inattention.
- Protect her from herself; give her the longevity to survive her adolescent years of carelessness and perceived immortality.
All I can do is pray silently to some unknown force in the ether and hope for the best. And... watch helplessly as my child grows further and further away from me, drifting out into a wonderful yet dangerous world.
The ultimate goal of motherhood is to render your own role obsolete. It's definitely the most bittersweet aspect of the gig, but there's so much more joy than fear. And it's worth it, just for the honor of being Charlotte's mommy.
When I find myself worrying too much about the unknown, it helps to remind myself to focus on the NOW. And the now has never been any better.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”