I have a confession to make. I am afraid of my daughter. I know, ridiculous, right? I mean the girl doesn’t even have kneecaps. Her entire existence depends on me. And yet, the fear.
I expected to feel lots of things when she was born: all-consuming love, an equally all-consuming desire to protect her and shelter her from this crazy world we live in, nerves over whether I really have what it takes to attempt to put a onesie over a head that only registers in the second percentile. But what has caught me most by surprise is the fear.
It’s so easy to judge when you have no idea what it’s like to be a mom. I mean, we’ve all been around kids before, so we know exactly what it’s like, right? Ha. Before she actually arrived, my husband and I knew exactly the kind of parents we were NOT going to be. We were not going to refer to each other as “Mommy” and “Daddy.” We weren’t going to tiptoe around the house during nap times. And we certainly weren’t going to let our lives revolve around nap and feeding schedules.
And then she was born. Sometimes when she’s wide awake and in the other room I still whisper to my husband to ask him a question. Because I’m afraid of her.
I’m afraid that she’s going to wake up too early from a nap and that shower I was planning on taking is going to be put off for another day. I’m afraid she’s going to get hungry later than I expected and it will throw off the whole day. I’m afraid that right when she falls asleep my dog, who clearly thinks that protecting our front door is as important as protecting the Mexican-American border and barks at anything within a 100 foot radius of our driveway, will hear a leaf that he needs to scare away and I will have to start the whole process all over again.
My daughter will be five months old in a couple of weeks and my husband and I have gone out alone exactly once – for 28 minutes. I’m afraid she will scream and cry if we leave her (not really sure how that’s different from her screaming and crying when we’re with her), and no one will be able to soothe and comfort her (because I’m clearly doing such a bang-up job in that department).
Yesterday we brought her to my parents’ house for a bridal shower that my sister was hosting. We set her up perfectly. She took a great first nap, we wore her out on the Jumperoo, and timed it so her second nap coincided with when we had to leave. She slept for an hour in the car and woke up happy. And then came time for her third nap. We were armed with all the weapons from home: swing, white noise machine, monitor, and favorite pajamas. This also happened to be the exact moment when the food was going out and people were in and out of my parents’ house, yelling to one another, slamming cabinets and the back door on their way. It was like a war zone. I mean, didn’t these people know my baby was trying to sleep? Didn’t they know the world is supposed to come to a screeching halt during nap time? And why didn’t I remember to purchase a Taser for moments such as these?
She was wailing, and after about three minutes that felt like an hour, I had decided it was time to leave. She just couldn’t handle it. And I was afraid that missing her last nap would make for a loud and restless night.
But I didn’t get her. We let her go. And she fell asleep. In fact, she slept for an hour and forty minutes! A great nap by any standards. As Glennon Melton would say, “She can do hard things.” And evidently so can I.
I cannot control what will happen in the future. Despite my best efforts, I cannot orchestrate every detail of my life and everyone else’s. The doorbell will ring when she is sleeping and the dog will most certainly bark. My daughter will cry and be hungry at unpredictable times and sometimes not get a good nap.
But she will learn from these experiences. She will learn to be flexible, adaptable, that things don’t always go the way she wants them to. And, finally, I might learn these things too. And that’s not something to be afraid of.