Parenting is fear.
The type of fear shifts and changes, an evolving beast with your child at the center of it.
When he was a newborn and infant, my fear for Connor was his survival. For those of you who are new here, my wife was pregnant once before Connor in 2009 and due to severe medical issues the pregnancy was terminated. The first time I saw, in person, an ultrasound of that pregnancy was also the same day that the doctor told us the fetus probably wouldn’t survive to term and I know that experience impacted my early relationship with my son. It’s not uncommon for infants to just stop breathing during the night, usually it happens for just a few moments, but let me tell you that it really, really sucks when you’re already paranoid, exhausted, and they’re in the bedside co-sleeper. A friend of mine confided in me there were times when he’d wake from a sound sleep convinced that his daughter, when she was a baby, had something horrible happen to her in the night and would have to immediately go check on her. The smallest issues were Things of Concern(tm) and I know Michelle humored me a few times regarding questions of or trips to the doctor and she certainly talked me down from the ledge on occasion.
And then he came down with RSV and had to be hospitalized at nine months. That was three days in the hospital I’d rather never have to go through again.
Now that he’s older though that fear has subsided a bit; kids are more resilient (in some ways) than I knew and I have a little more trust. Now my fears have changed.
Now my fears are for who he is and who he will be. Am I raising him right? Am I doing all that I can to foster his growth? Do I talk with him enough, do I interact with him enough? Am I disciplining him in a way that will make positive changes or just make things harder in the future?
Do I provide a good example for him?
And, and I totally admit this is completely egotistical of me, would he be proud of me as a father?
All of these questions, these concerns, are things that come up daily.
However, I don’t let them stop me. Like the bit from Herbert’s Dune I don’t let fear be the mindkiller. I let it pass through me. I acknowledge my fears and I meet them, doing my best every day because that’s all I can do. In sixteen years when he’s an adult that’s the only thing I can say that I did, my best. I have no idea how he’ll turn out, what kind of person he’ll be. I know I have my own hopes and desires in that regard but, in the end, he’s his own person and no matter how much influence I try to put on his life, he’s going to be however he’s going to be. I can only hope to raise a “good” person and try my best to meet that goal.
Parenting, in so many ways, is fear. But parenting, in a lot of other ways, is also courage and hope and love.