There are nuances of conversation I have grown to hate, comments that mean no harm but leave me wishing I had said something in response.
Among them is that thing everyone (but me) can do. Where the kids run off and I gasp over a cord or a tall slide or a barely missed corner and someone waves their hand at my worries, “they’ll be fine” they say and take another sip of coffee or continue a conversation that I can’t hear anymore.
Because all I am thinking is how badly I want to say “How do you know they will be fine? What if they aren’t fine? What if the moment I think they are fine, they aren’t? Then what?”
I thought they were fine before, I thought we had been through enough and I had made it so far and there was no way anything else could go wrong. And it did and yes my mind still feels like it was yesterday even though it was five years ago.
Sunday we went to a Christmas village with family, three adults to six small kids. The giant Christmas store is nearby and we go there year-round because we are crazy like that. Our kids wander the rooms and we hang back a bit, letting them lead us to The Nutcracker Room and The Dancing Elves.
In search of The Train Spot, we all piled into the elevator, little shoulders to our waists, and in between floor one and two I said in that voice that you are not really sure is even yours “where’s McKenna?” because I already knew she wasn’t there. Mark jumped out to run down the stairs and I took the elevator back down, hoping we would be there before she noticed we were gone.
But we weren’t.
We barely spoke afterwards, we played with the kids and shopped for the week but we didn’t say anything. That touchable fear of loss had risen to the surface for us both. Letting our guard down for a second, we had enjoyed a moment and moved with life and not counted heads. And we left her.
That night we sat in bed and discussed the state of our still-nervous stomachs and attempted to restitch un-mendable wounds.
I closed my eyes knowing there will always be that other shoe. We will always be waiting for it to drop.
Some days I want to be that mom that waves the kids off, sure the world will keep them safe but most days I’m okay right here, although I would prefer a window seat with less fear.
Pretty soon they will be waving me away and wiping off my kisses so until then I will keep them within hand-holding grasp. I don’t think they will grow up to regret flying high on swings pushed by their Daddy and dressing Barbie in the outfit I velcroed on ten million times.
I’m just not sure how to hold all these hands and catch the other shoe long before it ever falls.
How do you push past your parenting fears?
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