Some important milestones are approaching for our family and it has me reviewing just how far we've come along this shared experience. It's so hard to remember where you've been (even when you document a LOT), so that it often feels like you're just starting out. You can overcome this with a single reminder: If you weren't born today, then you're not at the beginning of the journey.
Just one week after our second wedding anniversary, we welcomed our eldest son into the world. He was perfect. I was terrified. Our family was plunged head first into an experience that changed us all in innumerable ways. Life Before Baby is an utterly different lifetime. I will sometimes have a memory of those years before that I have to do a mental "fact check" on to make sure it's not something I read in a book or saw on a movie.
That kind of juxtaposition? Yeah, I'm so NOT at the beginning anymore. Put another way, this ain't my first rodeo. And it's starting to apply to all sorts of things: I'm a decade into being a parent (because, uh-huh, that starts BEFORE childbirth), over a decade into being my hubby's wifey, two decades on as a "proper" writer, and very nearly four decades on as a denizen of this planet.
Which gets me to wondering - Why do I feel so much trepidation? I mean, I am constantly scanning for dangers. Dangers to my children, to my home, to my creative endeavors, to my physical and mental well-being. All of these are precious to me and, of course, we never want to see harm befall the things we love, but... Not to be cavalier, but I used to be much less afraid of stuff as a younger adult, especially in that Life Before era.
if I turn the clock back even further, though, I see the same trend of being terrified: I was intensely scared of the dark (still am in certain situations that are relatively safe), scared of swimming, scared of new foods, scared of horror movies, scared of walking by myself to the bus stop. That last? So wicked scared that I can STILL cause my heart rate to increase several fold if I imagine it too intensely. I plucked up the courage every day of first grade to walk up our long gravel driveway to the tree-lined dirt road that led to the highway further along where our bus stopped, probably a good half-mile from our house. Nightmares assaulted me - I regularly convinced myself that a boa constrictor was stretched across my path even though it ALWAYS proved to be just a shadow of a telephone pole (not to mention that there aren't many boa constrictors in the wilds of nowhere Virginia).
That journey, that I for so long I held as a belief in myself as a coward, was overturned in the recent past. It took a compassionate and impartial outsider to observe what immense courage that act took, of walking that way every day, believing that I was in dire danger each step of the trip. I'm sure I wasn't often in danger, but at six years old, you hardly have the life experience to understand that the things you've seen on TV or read about in an encyclopedia aren't necessarily likely to exist where you are.
So I'm still in the process of overturning more memories, unearthing more examples of courage and maybe that's why this fear is so raw. It takes even more fortitude to release the fears when you can no longer remember their genesis and whether it was real or imagined.
I wish I had a courage vest or a security wrap, a go-to talisman to protect me... I guess it's up to me to fashion that for myself, eh? Wish me luck and we'll catch up more a little further along the way, 'kay?