Eileen: “Each stage of your child brings new fears”


When you become a parent for the first time, you are likely to discover a whole new side of yourself in all sorts of areas. The thing that really struck me – as a fairly brave person – was the array of all kinds of scares you get for your child for free.

I’m not an overprotective mom at all, and now that my kids are older, it’s not appropriate either, because they go their own way anyway. They cycle to school themselves – although luckily it’s very close – and go outside to play. Luis himself cycles to the store and to football and it’s all very healthy. But still… I’m always happy when they’re home safe.

Fears

Especially when they are picked up and brought home by their father, who is currently living in The Hague. This is a dirty end from Arnhem. I really try to ignore the fear that something might happen to them, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. They are my children and they are the most important thing in my life. Now that Sofia is there, she’s actually starting over with a different kind of anxiety. I remember it years ago when the boys were little.

They are – sometimes completely unrealistic – fears. What if I drop her (or someone else)? What if she tripped and went down the stairs with her? We often put it on the changing mat on the table to change it, and of course there is a lamp on top of it. That day it suddenly occurred to me: what if the lamp went out while she was lying there? or when we are walking outside; What if that car goes off the rails and the stroller and me off the sidewalk? Why do I think these things? Why does it happen to me at all? And why am I a visual thinker and why is this horror scenario happening right on my retina? Fortunately, these are just very short thoughts and sometimes I have to laugh at them. I would probably be excused a one-way ticket, but still. I will just say that I love my children very much and I don’t want anything to happen to them.

Unfortunately, you can’t always control that. I can really sympathize with parents who have lost a child or parents who have a sick child. During the end of my pregnancy, I came across an Instagram account of a lovely lady who had to bury her child, and that also happened in Niels’ circle of friends. Since becoming a mother, I can really cry about it, because I can imagine the hell those people must go through. It’s the worst thing that can happen to you, to lose your baby. For example, you donated to Kika for a long time. If I can contribute something in this way, I’m happy to do so.

belong to life

Apart from everything over which you have absolutely no control, there are of course also things that are part of life and new fears associated with each stage of your child. Soon the boys will have to continue cycling to high school, they will drop out, come home late (or not at all) and will sometimes end up getting drunk on the side of the road or fighting. Sofia might get her boyfriends wrong and the three of them will do antics on drinking holidays in Salou or Hersonissos. It’s part growing up and part living and Neils and I have made enough jokes ourselves.

What no child needs is an overprotective father who prevents him from walking down seven trenches at once, making mistakes or falling over. So I keep my fears — which every parent probably feels — kind to myself and let my kids go free, no matter how hard it can be sometimes.

It should not hinder my interest in them. Find out, my dear child. Explore the world, go on adventures and learn new things. Be curious and don’t let anything stop you. When you’re young and fearless, enjoy it. When you have kids, you’ll understand why I always had to give you a kiss before you walked out the door. Then you will understand why I always wanted to hug you and say hello. Then you will no longer roll your eyes and sigh, because then you will understand what love means to your child. Sometimes fear is part of that, because your love for your child is all-encompassing and forever. And sometimes… sometimes it’s just scary.

More Elaine? Follow her on Instagram. I read her previous columns here Back.

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