Growing up, I would definitely call myself a worrisome child. I would worry about all types of things and then those worries would turn into nightmares at night as I slept. It wasn’t every night but it happened a lot.
One of my favorite shows growing up was a show called Rescue 911. Now, if you aren’t ancient like I am, you will have no recollection of this amazing entertainment. But if you are an 80’s baby, then you may remember the genius simplicity behind the idea of this show. Each episode had one to three different and real-life 911 recordings and then actors would re-enact what the emergency had been. I could never watch this myself, too afraid. But if my big brother and sister would watch with me, I was all about it! I remember one episode featured a story about a fire that had started in a house because someone ran an extension cord underneath an area rug. The whole house went up in flames and the people barely got out of there in time. All because of an overheated cord. Of course, that put just the right amount of fear in my heart that I went around unplugging every plug, extension cord or not, from the walls while frantically warning my parents of the dangers of extension cords.
Not much has changed since then.
When I first became a mother years ago, I immediately was struck with a new kind of fear. A fear not just for the physical safety of this new life, but also about his spiritual and mental health. I wanted to make sure that I was able to raise this child up to be a nice, kind human that loved others and loved God. I wanted him to look back on his childhood with fond memories and that amazing nostalgia we all know so well. Then, I had another child, and another, and then one more. Yes, four children later and I am now realizing that fear has stolen precious time from me and my children.
Now, I am not a sit around and bite my nails type of worrier. I am a pro-active type of worrier. I have rules, I helicopter, I say NO a lot and I am sure the massive amounts of gray hair I am getting has something to do with this fear thing. I don’t have my kids beds near windows because I saw on the news once that a child died from jumping on his bed and losing his balance falling backward out his window. I rarely let my kids climb trees because…duh. I have all my furniture anchored to the wall, all the blinds with strings are safely wrapped and out of reach, I have been known to peel and cut up grapes for my children as they become new to eating so that they don’t choke. Yes, you can peel grapes. Yes, it’s tedious and horrible. Yes, I know I am ridiculous. I check my kids seat belts at least three times before backing out of driveway, I divert my way home if I feel as though someone is following me, even though I am pretty sure no one has ever really been following me. I avoid certain roads at certain times of day because accident rates are high in that particular area. I avoid passing 18-wheeler trucks on the highway. I yell at my kids, “No running in the parking lot!” (I literally hear my mom’s voice with that one). The list goes on and on and on but I will stop there because I am sure you get the picture and already think I am crazy.
Thing is, I know this fear thing has gotten out of hand and I have slowly started to loosen the grip of my non-existent remote control. What I have learned as I get older and the more rescue 911 stories I hear and the closer they hit to home, the more I realize that I have absolutely no control over 90% of the things I am trying to avoid. Yes, I can take preventative measures and be an overall safe person, but when fear begins to take root in our lives and blossom into something unhealthy, it’s time to step back and get perspective. And, that’s exactly what I plan on doing. This won’t be accomplished overnight, but I am committed to letting my grip loosen even if it means my kids might get those nicks and bruises and even the possible broken bone that I have been avoiding all these years. (I will interject here to point out that I have never broken a bone and neither have any of my four children, three of whom are boys. But to what expense?) I want my kids to be a little more carefree and not inherit the time sucking pastime of worrying and fearing the unknowns.