This post was originally written by me in June of 2013. It popped up in my Facebook memories and as I read it the feelings still rang so true to me. But also, different as I explore motherhood with my second child.
I still climb in to bed each night next to my daughter and check to see her belly move.
I still worry about them out in the world.
But I've softened some, and for that I'm grateful.
The Original Post:
When I was a teenager I recall sitting in my kitchen, waiting for my Dad to get home. He was late and I was worried. I asked my Mom if she was worried, assuming we could share in it. I am well aware that I’ve inherited some of my anxiety from her (lucky me, both sides of my family have it!). She said she wasn’t. And then shared something I would never forget, and now finally understand.
“I worry more about you and Sammy when you’re out of the house.”
In that moment I remember being confused. "Huh? how does that work!?“ To me, my parents were my world.
Later, when I was in my early twenties, I lay in a borrowed bed in London. Matt, who I had been with for just a few years at this point, had just left to fly back to the US. I lay in bed and turned my head to see a red jacket hanging on the back of the door. What if, I thought, my looking at that red jacket is a sign. What if, I thought, it is a bad omen. What if, I admitted to myself as my mind and body filled with anxiety, something happened to Matt.
And in that moment I knew, that I could not imagine my life without him. That I always wanted him in my life.
And so we move forward, holding on to anxieties, but living life and making needs and wants real.
And we lose people.
And we have scares.
And we learn to live with a bit more, or maybe a lot more, groundlessness.
This week, I looked at Matt as he told me a story, after a long day and in the 10 minutes we had to connect before I had to go to bed, and I thought to myself, "God, I hope nothing ever happens to him.” And it struck me, my thinking that, because it isn’t something that often swims through my mind.
Clearly, I don’t ever want anything bad to happen to the man I love, the man I am building a life with. But, it isn’t a constant anxiety.
Last night, I climbed in to bed and lay next to Emilio.
I lay for a minute and listened for his breathing. As I do, every night. And when it was too soft for me to hear it, I rolled over and put my hand on him. I let my hand linger longer than I needed to. To be sure, to be more than sure, that he was breathing.
And I thought, “This is my boy. This is my world. And I cannot protect him from it all.”
And then, I got it. What my Mom had said so many years earlier.
I check for his breathing every night.
My hand placed gently on his belly, reminding myself that right now, right here he is good, is what I do every day. Is the way I process the ever coursing fear I hold as a parent.
In that moment, in that touch, I let it all wash over me. The worry, the fear, the panic, the inability to ensure that nothing ever happens to my son.
And I put it in its place in my mind.
I hold it balanced with the joy, the love, the sweet wonder of parenting.
And once satisfied, I roll over and I sleep. Always adjusting the balance of life, of worry, of embracing groundlessness.