For me, this is one of the things I struggle with most in my efforts to parent in a half decent fashion. I’ve always had slight neurotic tendencies, but managed to keep them in check when all I had to worry about was looking after myself. Now I am responsible for three amazing kids, each one far more than I deserve, the fear is there all the time, lurking and ever-ready to pounce. They get on their bikes – I immediately see life-changing head injuries. They run and jump and dance on the walk to school – I immediately see a mistimed skip, a tumble over the kerb, and I don’t even want to know what happens next. They build dens on top of the bunk bed and I am convinced that one of them will topple off and end up with a broken bone. Tomorrow, the eldest is off to a pool party – his first one – and I am desperately trying not to visualise all the million things that could go wrong from drowning (he can swim) to running along like the excited kid he should be, and cracking his head on the poolside. It’s not limited to possible accidents; if I wake in the night, I HAVE to go and check each one is breathing. And if they are not breathing assertively enough, I have been known to wake them. Just to check. Apparently this is quite normal for parents of a NEW baby – but my babies are 7, 5 and 3.
The Fear is not only in my head, but there’s a sort of physicality to it. I can see these events in glorious technicolour; I can feel them as if they were happening, for real, right now. It’s horrible, and it’s exhausting. My rational mind knows that it’s irrational, or at least highly exaggerated. But my rational mind spends a lot of time being sat on by my irrational one, so it’s not a great deal of help. It’s much worse when I am tired and stressed; though the panicking never really goes away, I can manage it much better if am feeling on top of things in my day to day life.
I try and hide this from the kids. I want them to grow up resilient, with a sense of adventure, with a can-do attitude, with a healthy and rational attitude to risk. I don’t want them to miss out on things because I am constantly catastrophising every situation we come across. I *think* I do ok at keeping it to myself – but I don’t really know what they are picking up from me. The husband balances me out in this respect – he has his demons, but the Fear isn’t one of them, luckily.
Am I the only one? Does it ever go away? Or do you just get used to it??