‘What is my worst fear?’
Not being able to protect my children.
My son was two when he had his first allergic reaction after eating half a Brazil nut.
My daughter was three months old when she was injured in daycare by a negligent provider.
Both of them survived without permanent damage, but I didn’t.
Technically, yes, I am here, present, typing out this blog post. When scenes from those two events come to me, however, my chest gets hot and constricts. Tears well in my eyes. Like, it’s happening right now and it’s weird but expected. Every time I think of those moments, I’m reminded of the fragility of the two lives I cherish most in the world.
Being a parent is both a sacred blessing and a special slice of hell. When the kids were younger, my husband and I were like most overprotective parents of small children but with a dash of PTSD. We were scarred from those past experiences and figured that the best way to protect them from mixed nuts, shitty babysitters, and other unspecified dangers moving forward was to hover. We cut their food for them, applied so many content blocks on their devices that they turned into electronic versions of Fort Knox, hid birthday parties and sleepover invitations from them in order to protect them from the cruel vile world of their classmates. Granted, my husband, like most dads, was much more laidback about it, but moi?
I was the Black Bev Goldberg.
Now that my son and daughter are older (13 and 9, respectively), we’ve learned from our early helicopter parenting missteps. We are learning to respect that they want some slack on the leash, space to develop their own ideas and to spend more time with their peers without Mommy or Daddy. They want social media profiles and two-night sleepovers. They want to pick out their own clothes, books, and deodorant sticks. They absolutely hate it when Mom knows about anything remotely considered cool (or lit or whatever kids say these days to indicate what’s hip). They are growing up and it scares the hell out of me.
My fear of not being able to protect my kids translates into an additional fear of inevitably releasing them into the world. A world where my children, though biracial, present as Black and, therefore, will be subjected to a specific set of threats based on their appearance alone. The idea of my teenage son being engaged by law enforcement in an uncivil manner literally keeps me up at night. The thought of my carefree daughter being silenced by a society that doesn’t embrace the voices of confident women and girls – especially those of color – kicks my anxiety into high gear.
I’m working through this, milestone by milestone. Reassuring myself that I am a good mother, a GREAT mother, in fact. Reminding myself to be grateful for the privilege that provides our children access to private education, a clean quiet neighborhood, and more than basic essentials. Continuing to express my love for my babies at every given moment with random hugs and ‘I love yous’ before they leave the house or drift off to sleep. Just reminding myself that I am doing the best I can to protect my kids helps to eradicate the fear bit by bit.
Once again, I am kicking myself for beginning this blog challenge because hello vulnerability and truth but, I can’t front: it feels good to write it out. More tomorrow. Bye.
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