In my late 30's, I conquered Fear. I picked up the tools for dealing with self-sabotaging fears -- the fears that existed in my head, in my inner world, but not in the real world. I faced my own mortality, I sat with the dying, and I went out and did the things I feared doing because I was tired of being afraid all the time. I learned that everyone is afraid, and that the difference between myself and people who did great things was that the people who did great things felt afraid and acted anyway. I learned that if I wanted to fulfill my own capacity for greatness, I had to develop tools for moving past the paralysis of fear, and use them, every day, until it became second nature to acknowledge my fears and act anyway.
I got off the fear bandwagon, and it was very freeing.
Until last week.
Last week, when my newborn was jaundiced and losing weight and not pooping -- I felt real fear for the first time in years. It was a new kind of fear, and it hit me in the gut like a suckerpunch: What if something happens to my Little Man?
That thought brought anguish greater than I'd felt at the loss of my sister -- the most keenly felt loss of all the deaths of loved-ones yet -- and sent my mind reeling down the What If path. As soon as I realized where I was going though, I stopped that self-indulgent sabotage. Down that path lies Smothering Motherhood and an Anxious Fearful Child.
Somewhere there is a balance, and I'll find it. In the meantime, I accept that I'll probably swing between extremes for a bit. I'm sure life will present me many opportunities to confront my mother-fears. I'm also certain I'm up to the challenge of raising a happy, well-adjusted child -- all my fears aside.
I'm also certain that the physical, gut-wrenching response to threats to my son's health and well-being will be with me for the rest of my life. I've just got to learn to accept it as one of the tithes of motherhood and hope it gets easier to think critically and act appropriately despite the fear and the pain.
It does get easier, right?