I’ve been afraid my whole life. I don’t mean afraid of life experience, or trying new things. No, I’m talking about things like Zombies, ghosts, scary stories, dark alleys. You name it, play the scary orchestra, and I immediately covered my eyes, plugged my ears, and hummed along to a made up song to get through the movie previews.
I didn’t hide it, in fact, I didn’t really feel like it was something to be ashamed of – I just knew that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I wouldn’t be one the of the survivors.
Fast forward to motherhood.
There are two distinct memories I have when I think about motherhood and fear. The first was when my daughter and I were walking up the stairs to get ready for bed. My husband wasn’t at home with us that night, and it was completely dark upstairs. As we get near the top of the stairs, my two-year-old starts screaming, “No! No!” pointing at this “empty” space on the landing.
I would love to say that I calmly reassured my daughter, letting her know there was nothing there, nothing to be afraid of.
But then I’d be a liar.
I promptly picked her up, and walked…alright, jogged, back down the stairs to calm myself down. I’m not saying it’s reasonable. I’m not saying it’s rational. I’m even a little ashamed of myself. But it’s who I am – and, well, motherhood didn’t change that.
I thought motherhood would make me fearless.
I thought that I would be able to rationally address the common fears of toddlers, that I could handle the midnight sleep walkers standing next to my bed at 2 in the morning awaiting my acknowledgement of their night time creep sessions. I thought that I could calmly explain to my toddler that there is no such thing as ghosts, that there isn’t a nameless something in her room. Let’s just say I’m still working on it.
I think we all have these expectations of ourselves when we transform into parents. And if you don’t, feel free to point and laugh at me while I explain that I expected myself to be perfect.
I expected to handle two children flawlessly.
I expected to dress my little girl in ribbons and bows.
I expected to handle fits, tantrums, rants, and ravings like a pro. Hell, I didn’t even expect to have to deal with those because I was the perfect parent.
I expected to be fearless.
How wrong I was.
Motherhood doesn’t make us flawless. It doesn’t change who we are. It doesn’t make us perfect. In fact, the beauty of motherhood is that we become this imperfectly perfect person in the eyes of our children.
So why, then, do we expect perfection?
My second “fearful” memory involves insects. My daughter loves ALL animals. Crickets, spiders, bugs, snakes. I don’t typically mind these creatures, but I draw the line at a praying mantis – straight out of a nightmare. We came home, and there was a praying mantis right next to the door. My daughter thinks it’s awesome. I think it’s terrifying. She wants to hold it.
I turn the situation over to my husband, asking him to help her hold the praying mantis. The last thing I want to do is force my fears onto my daughter, but I’m not so noble that I am going to hold the dang thing. I trot inside, because *shudder* praying mantis.
I’m inside for a full minute before I hear a screech, and no, not from my daughter, from my husband. Apparently, said praying mantis had “attacked” by launching itself at his face.
The moral of the story?
Don’t expect perfect. Accommodate your flaws, and teach your children that they don’t need to be perfect to be perfectly wonderful. And avoid praying mantises.