As far back as I can remember, I have been a worrier. I don’t know if it’s because I am generally just an anxious person, or because I watched my grandmother ritualistically chant under her breath for my grandfather’s safety every time he left the house. All I know is that I have always worried about my family, their safety, and the unknown. It is emotionally and physically draining to partake in superstitious behavior and dwell on things out of my control for thirty-plus years.
The most difficult part of this side of my personality is that I don’t want to pass this on to my kids. I have to let them jump off of high things and touch worms and NOT. FREAK. OUT. because I want them to be kids and adventurous and just not so afraid.
And then there’s Gabby. She is so overly cautious. She is clumsy, so I clutch at my pearls every time she does something brave like jump out of the car or climb on the high jungle gym at the playground. But, like I said, let them be kids and all that. So I stifle myself.
Yet, somehow, the kid has become fearful despite all of my stifling. When she was two, she would ask me to come with her to the playroom because she was afraid that Swiper (that dastardly fox from Dora the explorer, for you non-kid owners) was in the front bedroom. She would wake up in the night afraid that a bear was going to get her, despite my frequent reminders that we made sure our house was fox and bear-free when we bought it.
Just this morning, she was happily playing in the living room with her Cinderella castle, and she sent Jasmine into the kitchen in Cinderella’s carriage when we had this exchange:
Gabby: Mommy, can you come with me to get Jasmine?
Me: No, Lilly’s in the kitchen. Just go in there.
Gabby: But I don’t want to be alone!
Me: You won’t be.
Gabby: Mommy? I think there’s a nightmare in there.
Me: Nope, I told you. This house has no nightmares, foxes, or bears.
Gabby: I’m still scared.
I had an immediate flashback of myself in my twenties – hell, maybe even my early thirties – running from the bathroom to my bedroom in the dark. I have always been afraid of the dark, monsters, and ghosts lurking in the night. But I have never once let on to my kids that I have these fears. It’s unnerving to me to see her fears unravel the same way mine did.
At least she has the benefit of my empathy. I know what it’s like to be afraid. She doesn’t know that I’m just as scared as she is. I never had that support growing up.
I just hope that my understanding and patience with her anxiety helps her to outgrow it.
I was lucky enough to find a husband who thinks I’m ridiculous and doesn’t make fun of me for it. There can’t possibly be another person that tolerant in this world.