This is in response to a contest posted by Ms. Single Mama about posting your worst fear. I have to list two because they both rattle me right to the tip of my size 7 shoes (usually flip flops actually).
My first fear is regarding my daughter. Although she’s only 8, I’m perpetually worried about the day that she will rise out of bed and be a teenager, who no longer cares about snuggle parties watching movies with her mama in bed, no longer choose me first in her options of things to do for fun, no longer speak to me with admiration and respect and no longer come home telling me that I’m the coolest mom and she’s so lucky she’s got me. I worry that I won’t ever again crawl into her bed and wake hours later with her long, gawky legs wrapped around me and her sweet breath in my face. I worry that her freckles will fade, her chest will grow and she will not change uninhibited or shower with me anymore. No more shooting each other with the handheld shower head singing “shower fountain fun, shower fountain, FUNNNN!”. I worry even more since she got braces and her face seems to be reshaping into this shockingly pretty young lady. No longer a baby fat laden, little girls face with braids hanging down on either side of those darling freckles. I horribly worry that she’ll become one of those angst-riddled teens who are angry and bitter and walk around with arms crossed and scowling faces. Those girls I see in church who looks so miserable. My little girl has often been touted as “the happiest little girl I’ve ever seen, nothing rattles her” by all who meet her. My biggest fear is that her outrageously sunny disposition will change, like people say it’s bound to, when she’s a teenager, and I’ll lose the little person I know now. How will I conquer this fear? I’m doing all I can to make sure this doesn’t happen. There are no guarantees, but she and I have one of the most open and honest relationships I’ve ever seen. We discuss nearly everything and have daily talks about all sorts of things. I never, never yell and never talk down to her.
I never make her feel that her ideas are small, or that there is anything she can’t tell me. We talk about things that aren’t even real problems now, but might be later. We talk about when she gets older and dating and drugs and peer pressure come along. I tell her every day how special she is, in hopes that she will have that confidence and self-esteem to know what’s right. When she was younger, we practiced learning empathy and other moral virtues, by following certain books, such as this one, Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Children to do the Right Thing” by Dr. Michelle Borba. (Highly recommended, my daughter is incredibly empathetic and I credit this book and it’s exercises for that one). I plan on keeping a close relationship with her by making sure that no matter how busy we are, we have special times alone together. I will take her out of school occasionally, as long as she is doing well academically, for day trips with Mommy where we talk on our car ride and go shopping or to the movies or museums and re-connect. By taking vacations alone together where we can get some much needed bonding time as she gets older and more independent. In short, I plan on carving out a niche in what’s sure to be her busy social calendar. At eight, nearly nine, I’ve already had to do this as she embarks on her busy athletic and social schedule. I’ve told her about this fear and she swears it won’t happen to us. And I’ve told her this will happen, that at times (gasp) I thought Nana was just the most awful unfair mother ever. But now, I see that she was right. I tell her that no matter how mad she gets at me, nothing I ever do will ever be without reason, that she can always try to show me that her side is reasonable and explain why it’s valid. But I will have the final say, and it will always, always be in her best interests. When all else fails and she shouts the refrain oft heard by mothers of teenage daughters, “You don’t even love me!”, I will pull out of my work desk drawer a tiny notebook I’ve kept since she was born that professes my love for her on a regular basis. I’ve written love notes to her in this tiny journal, during dull spaces at work, whenever I thought of something good to tell her (money, boyfriends, death, relationships). But they always tell her how much I love her. I think if she reads that, she’ll see. That’s why I plan on giving it to her when she’s 16. That’s my plan for this one. I will just do my best to raise her in a strong, assured way. And when these fears creep into my head, I will squash them immediately by looking back at that little journal where the first sentence begins…”Tomorrow you will be three months old and I wanted to send you letters that I will give you when you are old enough”. When I read through those pages it eliminates those fears because I know she will see easily how loved she’s always been. I’m also teaching her an “appeal” procedure to use when she feels something is unfair that I’ve decided. That helps to eliminate controversy as well.
My other fear…bats. When I was 17 I was sneaking back into the house after coming in late from something or other and went to shut my bedroom window. Shockingly something flew towards me, tangled in my hairsprayed head and kept flying. I screamed and ran out of the room. Running out of his bedroom in his tighty-whities was my Dad. When he saw what was up, he chased it around and I hid in the living room (my brother had shut his bedroom door in fear and wouldn’t let me in). Finally he got it to land and he punched it, knocked it out and carried it outside. To this day, my fear of bats paralyzes me. But in writing this, I realized that latter fear of bats is physical and psychological-whereas the former is just completely way too real.
As for my fear of bats-I’m going to sit outside one night this summer when they are really flying overhead around the lights down by the marina and just let them fly. It’s an immersion therapy approach and definitely works. When I was afraid of snakes as a college student, I went to an area pet store and asked to hold several. It really did work!
Thanks Ms.SingleMama, this was FUN! (And chilling).