It's okay to be a paranoid parent.
You'll never sleep the same way again, after kids. A tiny, unreasonable part of me hoped it wasn't true.
I was wrong. The fear sticks in my belly whenever I think about my daughter. The waiting, watching, and anxiety makes my shoulders tights, and I swear that's why the lines around my eyes appeared. Pre-kids, a part of me hoped the fear would ease as she grew.
But then my dad started talking about life after kids, and it hit me–I'll never NOT be afraid for my daughter.
He found this post and commented,
"...being a father changes most men. My biggest change was fear. There was virtually nothing I was afraid of until my children were born- then I came to know fear, mostly imagined, as a daily companion. I went from worrying about nothing to worrying about everything that might hurt them. SIDS, the pool, the proximity of the house to the road, would they choke on a piece of food I didn't cut small enough, the pool (OMG why did I build that damn nightmare in their backyard?), epidemics (really,just a virus–but maybe Dengue Fever!), and on and on it went.
And it never goes away; Ryan 12 miles offshore without me in an 18 ft boat, Ashley flying off to Argentina or wherever. And now we've added the grandkids to assure my anxiety level remains elevated. Pass the Maalox, please."
It's the "most imagined" part of the fear that we need to pay attention to because while fear is natural, it is (largely) not warranted. There are not masses of pedophiles waiting to rape our children. Our youngest children can eat unsliced grapes. Our older children need trust, education, and independence.
Our job, as good parents is to push through that wall of fear. To give our kids the room to grow and not suffocate them in the process of raising them "right."
Life may be full of danger, but that does not make our lives dangerous. #parenting
The newest and oldest breed of parent? The Paranoia Parent. We're here to stay.
I've accepted it — I'll never sleep well again.
And that's okay by me. Now I just have to do my best to leverage that fear into teachable moments, and not be consumed by it.