Nervous. Scared. Terrified. Those are just a few of the words I hear parents use quite often. People seem to be afraid of something terrible happening to their kid(s). And who can blame them? The world looks like a scary place. The news is full of horrific stories. Social media is full of scary things happening. And some of them aren’t even true. Some of them are.
Being afraid or worried about something specific happening to your child is one of the most common conditions of being human. As parents, we fear sickness. We fear someone being mean to our kids. We fear that school will be too hard, too much pressure, too scary.
I’m not trying to convince you to stop being afraid. I can’t do that for you. But what I can tell you is that sometimes having the bad thing happen to you can be a real perspective-changer.
I invite you to look at fear a little differently because what happens AFTER the feared event is often a very liberating experience, given the right perspective and the right amount of time to recover. I could give you dozens of examples of this in my life. Not only am I middle-aged (GASP), but I have four small children that have helped shift my perspective. My life is pretty much a constant test of my will, patience, and constitution.
When the thing you fear happens, it frees you. Yes. I said it. When something that you are worried about comes to fruition, as terrible as it may seem, you might find yourself not only letting go of that fear but finding yourself stronger and more resilient than you previously gave yourself credit for.
Here are a few of the greatest hits from my personal parenting career that at the time seemed like the biggest of tragedies, but once they were in my rearview mirror, they made me stronger, smarter, more courageous, and more grateful.
When my firstborn was three months old, she had to have surgery to repair a defect between her ureter and her kidney. We were in and out in 24 hours, and the recovery was simple. We had my mother-in-law fly in to take care of her twin sister so we could both be with her for the entire time at the hospital. Thankfully, all her scans since (she’s seven now) have come back looking good.
What I learned: I don’t fear hospitals or the prospect of one of my kids having to have a surgical procedure.
Emergency Room Trips
I have four kids. I have been to the emergency room three times. The first time was terrible because I did not know what to expect (girl #2 got admitted for reactive airway disorder and had to be put on oxygen and steroids), and we were there for five days. Again, my dad came to help with her twin so we could take turns being with her every minute, and my husband could still go to work.
What I learned: Emergency rooms are no fun. You really must pay attention to what people are telling you and ask many questions if they use terminology that you do not understand. I knew quickly that we were there for a good reason and that she was safest where she could get the proper care. She was under the care of a pulmonologist for a few years after that but has been clear of any breathing issues for years now. I no longer fear the emergency room. We had to go when girl #1 split her chin open, falling off a chair, and by that trip, I felt calm and took it all in stride. We all did.
Yep – me and the girls all got it, and after trying to battle it at home for almost a month, we found a great salon that deals with it. Now, I no longer fear lice because it has already happened to us, and I know exactly what to do if it happens again. I also know that we will survive it.
What I learned: Lice happens to everyone, and professionals are available ready to help!
On the first day of Kindergarten for my oldest kids, I missed getting them off the bus. On the first day of KINDERGARTEN. That bus drove away and took my babies with it. I screamed and cried and freaked out. But you know what? We went and picked them up, and everything was OK. My kids were safe in the school office, and you better believe I never missed another bus drop-off after that.
What I learned: There are so many people in every community who are good and who are on this Earth to help us raise our kids. The good far outweighs the bad by a lot. I know that if god forbid something prevented me from being home for my kids, a neighbor or the school will keep them safe until I or someone else could arrive.
No one looks forward to the bad stuff happening. But being able to handle it, and look at the aftermath with the lens of understanding that we can take anything that life throws at us, makes us stronger.