I have a confession to make: I'm scared. I've been scared of just about everything for most of my life, but right now, I fear that my current unease at putting myself out there in the world, as in dancing when I feel like it, engaging in conversion with an acquaintance, pursuing writing, as in singing karaoke at a bar with friends, taking myself seriously in a career, or picking up a dusty paintbrush, and the dissatisfaction that comes along with it will eventually destroy the happiness I currently posses in my personal life, aka, Ben and Hannah. Because fear thrives on neglect, you have one of two choices: confront the fear in the hopes that you posses the stamina to repeatedly venture past it or, go to such extremes to avoid it, that you end up alienating the ones that you love and even your own hopes and desires.
Parenthood brings to the surface a lot of the crap we have painstakingly packed away in the neglected attics of consciousness. It can be an arduous and isolating journey coming to terms with how much our own fate is tied to that of our children's and this last year for me has been both salty and sweet. I have never been the type of person to push myself too hard, but being Hannah's mother has done something irrevocable to me. From the very first time she nuzzled into my chest, I felt a powerful desire to be something more. I yearn to be a better person, for me, and through me for her. It is as though her little bright eyes shined a light on every crevice of my being, exposing every lie I had ever sold myself for the sake of comfort. Living without these lies has been uncomfortable to say the least, but it has also been an amazing opportunity, for without them my options are plain. I can close my eyes and stand still - and in doing so, throw away my self-respect and the potential respect of my daughter, or I could move forward, learn how to live, and become a worthy role model.
My mother loves telling the story of how as a baby I once fell while trying to pull myself up on a rickety piece of furniture. I apparently disliked the experience so much that, in an effort to avoid falling ever again, from that point on I shook everything I pull up on. Very clever for an infant, but as I watch Hannah learn to walk, and run, and jump with an unflinching determination, I can't help but wonder if my 'very clever' approach has translated to my adult life. It is scary watching Hannah find her footing in this world, her approach so unlike mine. When Hannah wants something, she goes straight for it. She falls, and falls again, never letting the experience impede her from trying again . She might alter her approach slightly, but pull back the reins she does not and you know what? She always succeeds. When I see her try a new stunt, like ridding her rocking horse standing up (one handed!!), I've stopped saying no. Because, although my insides are churning with the fear of her failure, she always succeeds... eventually. Perhaps all the caution with which I have lived my life, though protecting me from life's bumps and bruises, has also hindered me from taking chances, being reckless, following my desires, and most importantly, moving forward.
Unfortunately, taking a good look at your fears does not diminish them. I'm beginning to get the feeling that they never go away and that we can only hope to grow more comfortable with them. So comfortable, that we no longer let them steer us away from the things we love, from the people we love. In my case, the solution is simple: it's time that I take a few spills and, in taking a cue from my 14 month old daughter, get back up, brush myself off, and keep going. It's called growing up, and what a relief to be finally doing it! The ironic part is that, in my endeavor to become a role model for my daughter, she has actually become my mine.