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Anxiety and Motherhood

A baby about to walk sets his mother's mind to wander.

 “Baby, let go,” my husband says, pulling my hand away from his chest. It’s the middle of the night and I’m still mostly asleep.

“Sorry,” I mutter and settle back into my pillow.

This scene happens a couple times a week. I have a recurring dream in which my son is about to fall and I reach out to catch him.

Unfortunately, this means I suddenly grab hold of my husband’s chest, hair and all, startling him awake. My husband is pretty good natured about the whole thing, but I’m sure it’s unsettling to be under attack by a crazed woman every night. 

I’ve had these dreams since my son was about four months old, but they’ve gotten more intense since I became pregnant with our second child. 

I think it’s my brain’s reaction to anxiety about my son’s safety, especially now that he’s able to move on his own.

He gravitates toward the objects that are off limits, especially wires, electronics and the trash can. My husband and I have baby-proofed the house as much as we can, but he has a knack for finding the things we’ve missed. One afternoon I noticed he was having trouble drinking from his bottle, and I found a small piece of tape in the roof of his mouth.

It’s really hard to strike a balance between protecting your child and letting him have the freedom to explore the world and make his own discoveries.

I don’t want to ruin his wonder with my paranoia, but I also don’t want him to crack his head open.

Wrapping my brain around how I’m going to help him progress from the wild abandon of his early toddling years to well-adjusted teen and adult years also causes me to panic a little.

I want him to feel safe and loved, but I also want him to have the confidence to take on the world. And I have no idea how to do it, except to love him and appreciate him for the unique person he is.

Before too long, he’ll be living his own life and making his own choices, and I’ll be the small voice on the phone, admiring him and wishing him well.

But he’ll always be my little tiger baby, whose first cries sounded more like a tiny roar than a newborn’s shriek.

That fact hit me the other day when I was talking to an older friend who had recently lost her 40 year old daughter in an accident. She told me that when she was told the news, her mind instantly flashed back to the first time she held her daughter in her arms, and how she marveled over her thick curls. At the wake, she touched those dark curls for the last time before the casket was closed.

My friend urged me enjoy my son as much as possible and to cherish every moment because it goes by too fast.

I’m going to really really try to take her advice. I just hope my brain cooperates.

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