Irrational fears: parenting edition

What bugs you in the middle of the night? I’m up in the wee hours almost every night. This has nothing to do with the bebe as he’s usually snoring away happily in his crib. I’ve noticed everything seems worse at this time. Worries and doubts creep up and the irrational fears set in. Usually by morning I can laugh at myself for being such a worry wart. However, there is one fear that doesn’t seem to be fading at dawn. This irrational fear of getting in a wreck with Hayden in the car.

This fear has been growing for the past several months. It’s not paralyzing by any means – it doesn’t keep me from going places – and I’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to bother me when I’m a passenger.  But I do feel like I’m a much more cautious driver than I was previously and I’m much more aware of how other people are driving.

Yesterday my sister and I were walking in her neighborhood with the babies and a man driving a white pickup truck erratically almost hit us head on. To clarify: the main streets in her neighborhood are the width of three streets and we were hugging the left curb. Honestly, this guy was swerving all over the place and almost hit a vehicle after he passed us. I wish I’d had the wits about me to write down his plate number and now I feel like walking with an air horn for any future crazy-driving incidents. I also drive through three school zones on the way to daycare and I am continually amazed at people who don’t heed traffic signals. Over the past year I’ve almost been plowed into walking through crosswalks (the most disturbing in front of a store while I was pregnant), parking lots, and most notably the incident yesterday with my sister.

I know many of you out there have children. One, two, more than two. (Bless you.) And some of you may have none. Everyone tells me to get ready for this parenting ride because it has its ups and downs. I know you can’t control other people, only your reactions to them. So how do you deal with a fear of other people harming your child because they are careless? Stop leaving the house? Start practicing yoga? Get a great therapist?

When does a phobia take on a life of its own? And how do you conquer it? I appreciate your insights!

Categories: Parenting

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3 replies »

  1. Our fears basically reflect our unease with that which we can’t control, right? I live in a big European city, with trams, and buses, and trains and taxis, oh my. And there’s train tracks and cobblestone streets and arcane road signs and none of it makes any sense to me, whatsoever. So my fear is also road-related, but it’s that my kid will get run over because I’m not paying attention, and I push her into oncoming traffic, or maybe when she’s older she has her dad’s haphazard sense of caution or something. I think all this comes from my frustrations at not being able to get around easily, and you couple that with natural parental worrywart-ness, and voila! Roadphobia! How do you maintain a reasonable state of alarm? I hope you weren’t hoping for a decisive answer at the end of this, because I’d like to know as well. I think you just have to accept that some things are out of your hands, and to concentrate on the things that aren’t.

  2. Just voicing my irrational fears out loud helps give a bit of perspective! I’ve talked to a few parents of young children lately who have the same phobia. I think this stems not only from lack of control, but also the potential feeling of extreme loss or hurt that would result of said fear actually happening. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to Hayden! This little person completely changed my life and he’s definitely given me a bigger purpose. Anyway, I try not to dwell on the what-ifs, but those are the thoughts that creep up sometimes in the middle of the night.

    Did you relocate permanently? I’m trying to imagine getting around in a foreign country (with a kid) and it sounds overwhelming! But I’m sure you are doing great. 🙂

  3. I dunno about “permanently”, because that sounds so ominous to me, but we’re definitely here for a couple of years, at least. My wife put up with me in America for two years, I feel like it’s only fair I give her the same amount of time in Poland. Being a parent overseas IS tough, not that there’s really anything MORE to worry about, just so much that you’re unaccustomed to, y’know? There’s not just different THINGS, but entire IDEAS are strange to me, here. People here have an entirely different way of looking at stuff than Americans do. Being a single mom, though? I can’t really compare not knowing what size my kid wears in metric to raising a kid on my own. I’m sure you’ve got buggaboos and freak-outs to contend with that I can’t imagine. My mom was a single mom, and I’d like to think it made me a stronger kid for it. I can tell you take this parenting thing seriously, and I think maybe that’s enough. Just CARING makes you more alert, more nurturing, more thoughtful than anything you might actually try to DO. Why are there so many all-cap words in this paragraph? I DON’T KNOW.

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