Wednesday, October 17, 2007
A Mother's Fears
I have a routine with my prayers. First, I say the Lord’s Prayer. Next, I repeat my mantra request, “Please keep the children safe, healthy, happy and free from harm.” Lastly, I put in my special requests to the D.J. upstairs, closing out with an “Amen.”
Safe, healthy, happy and free from harm. That’s what I ask God to do for my children. It’s a mantra that has been the same for many years. It didn’t start right away when the first was born; rather, it evolved into its final form after several years of parenting. Likely, it came about as we encountered near tragedies (suburban style).
What kind of tragedies? A daughter wandering away at the shopping center when she was three. A first-born son, age three, running ahead of us on the sidewalk of Manchester, England, narrowly missing being run over by a car exiting a driveway. A daughter, unclothed and just two years old, wandering away from our house, exiting through the garage, crossing a street, entering the Waldorf school across the street, and walking the width of the campus to reach the playground. A youngest son barely into his second year starting to choke and requiring intervention.
Anyone who is a parent has had those moments, right? It’s not just me, alone in my encounters with heart-racing, hair-raising periods which, when looked at by someone with a disinterested eye, last mere moments, right? And when all is well and the moment has passed and our heart rate has slowed to its normal quick-paced parental resting state, we remain unable to put the moment behind us, right?
Ask me what scares me, and I will say that if you made a Venn diagram of my fears, you would see that the element “my children” falls into all of the overlap of the circles of fears. Deep inside me, deeper than I really like to probe, is a blackness so large it is near endless and bottomless. It is the blackness to which my mind retreats in those slow-motion moments of fear.
I love my husband. I love my mother. I love my sister. I love several people whom I consider great friends. But I do not fear for them. I do not fear for myself. I fear for my children. I am scared of what my children might face in the short term, in the near future, and long into a future where I will not be bodily present.
And so I plead with God at night. “Please keep the children safe, healthy, happy and free from harm. Amen.” It is a mantra I will say until the day I’m gone. It is a mantra that somehow frees me to sleep soundly and fearlessly.
[Submitted to the lovely Scribbit’s October Write-away Contest.]
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