The One Minute Writer has a timely prompt this morning: the irrational fear.
I have recurring nightmare, usually about Rosemary's Baby (because Firstborn is more cautious and calm than his brother). I leave him alone in the bath or swimming pool, and come back to find that he's slipped underneath. I feel a sudden sense of panic and run to pull him out, but when I get there I find him sitting underwater, playing and laughing, and I'm filled with relief. I think this dream is my brain telling me that he's fine and I don't need to worry so much about him (because I do spend an awful lot of time worrying). Last night, I had a different dream, one in which he had a terminal illness. The feeling of having zero control, the terror and the grief was overwhelming, and I was more than happy to wake up to find him grinning at me as he climbed onto my bed for some pre-6AM jumping fun.
I think I'm right when I say that becoming a parent is sort of a mixed blessing emotionally. You feel joy you never realized was possible, but it's tempered with an ongoing fear that never goes away. I have no reason to believe that either of my kids will ever get sick enough to die. Their chances of being in a car accident, or being snatched off the street by a sicko are no greater that anyone else's. But yet these are the things that keep me awake at night.
I've known a few people who have lost their children, and any time I've tried putting myself in their place, my brain has put up a barrier before I've had a chance to really get in there. It's too unbearable a thing to even think about. And every time there's a new headline about a soldier dying way too young, as much as I relate to that as a wife, my first thought is always to feel a little hope that he was predeceased by his parents, because as much as I might fear death, I think it'd be preferable to having to live through something like that.
So, that's my irrational fear these days. It has replaced all the pre-parenting fears of dying, or losing my job, or getting arrested. Though I did also recently have a dream that I was dragged away at the airport for drug smuggling, and just before I woke up, I had a panicked look back at my kids standing all by themselves with the bags. Goodness knows where the Captain was--probably on course or exercise, as usual!
But I'm trying to beat this fear down in my mind. I don't think I can destroy it--there's too much primitive biology going on for that--but I do know that for every minute I spend worrying, I lose a minute that could be spent enjoying my time with them. Sooner than I'd like, they'll be all grown up, out of my control and making decisions for themselves.
And that'll usher in a whole new era of irrational fear.