When I’m taking my toddler to daycare on the bike, I often imagine how we could both die if struck by a car. When I leave my toddler with my husband, scenarios play through my head of how she could get hurt and I would get back to a life that’s irrevocably changed. Or I imagine myself succumbing to, say, cancer and leaving my daughter motherless at a young age, traumatized and much less able to cope with what life will no doubt throw at us.
I used to resent my mother a little for being anxious. To give her credit she did not stifle me or my siblings: I could go out to reasonable hours (for a teenager) — but when I got back at midnight, a little high on hormones and lager, there she would be, up in her pijamas, looking stressed. And I would be acutely conscious that while I was having fun, selfishly unaware, she would have been worrying at the worst possible thing that could happen to her offspring.
And now it seems I’ve inherited it. Is it the lot of all parents out there, or is it a trait that is either an expression of genetics or a result of observing the Fear in my mother? Difficult to say. I guess age makes us more aware of mortality in any case, and heavens know the media presents us with enough visual material to generate gory visions on demand.
I guess knowing the Fear is there is the start of the road to recovery. At least I hope it is, and that I’ll find ways to set it aside, and deal with the fact that there’s very little we can control, and we might as well get over it. Not sleeping will not keep my children and relatives safe. Hair-raising visions are going to only affect my neural pathways and blood pressure. Life is better without them.