Raising A Fearless Child


Sunday began with a drop off. Breakfast followed along with conversation. A wiggly tooth came up. A very, very wiggly tooth. Uncle Pete was paged in order to do the tooth pulling honors since he is, after all, the tooth puller expert.

Except that fear gripped the Frog Princess as the floss was meticulously tied and tightened ready for the expert pull. She began to cry.

"Why are you crying?" I asked.

She didn't know what to say. I wanted her to be okay because this tooth has been bothering her a bit (it's a top tooth and causing discomfort). But, we both let it go and went about our day.

As bedtime approached, cuddles ensued. I was asked if she could sleep in my bed. I couldn't refuse a runny nosed and clingy request. And so, we cuddled and talked. She told me how cute and snuggly I was. I told her how much I loved her. 

The Frog Princess then stated the following:

"Mami, I hope you stay here for a very long long time. I'm going to miss you when you're gone."

I told her that I knew. She told me that she was making herself sad and wiped at her eyes. I kissed her hand and I told her I hope I'm around for a very long time too. In turn, she confessed that she would think of me every single day when I was gone. This made me tear up because I know she means it as I feel the same way about Mami.

The moment passed and she got up to grab something from her bedroom (adjacent to mine). She walked breezily in the dark and from the depth of her night-light-less abyss I heard

"Mami, I'm only not scared of the dark when you are with me."

Y'all...I don't know what it was about that statement that made my insides melt. Confession and side bar: I try my best to post statuses on Facebook at bedtime in hopes to hold all of these memories. I did so then.

[Tweet "So much hurt and pain took place when she was being knitted in my womb that I always worried I'd passed it on to her. #Mamihood"]

Those words struck me hard. My child is cautious. Level-headed. Precise. She's the girl that's going to keep her friends clothes on in college. THAT cautious.

So much hurt and pain took place when she was being knitted in my womb that I always worried I'd passed it on to her.

As my mother passed it on to me.

Being the child born after the death of a first is a mixture of joy embodied and fear of history repeating itself.

There was so much caution. I realize now that for a period of time, though my mother was overjoyed with me, I was kept at arm's length. The "something is going to go wrong" fear was knitted in the threads of my being.

Similarly, I always wondered if the sadness that I was faced with during periods of time in my pregnancy would show up in the lines on my daughter's face. Don't get me wrong, I was beyond ecstatic that a little tadpole was growing inside of me. But the outside world brought me so much unexpected pain and disappointment which were heightened in my pregnant state.

[Tweet "Being the child born after the death of a first is a mixture of joy embodied and fear of history repeating itself. #Mamihood"]

Because of these truths, I tell her often how proud I am when she takes a leap. When she moves past her fear and finds that things aren't as bad as she thought it would be.

I say encouraging words. Though at times I get frustrated, I try to pour love into my cautious Frog Princess. She does it on her own time. She finds her roar. I just have to remind her that I will be here when she takes the leap.

When she came back into bed, we said more words of love. Then I heard her say "I'm sorry that I was afraid of getting my tooth pulled today."

I told her it was okay. Rubbed her back and told her that I just want her to be able to get past some of her fears sometimes. That I'd be here to support her. That I wanted her to be fearless but that didn't mean she wouldn't be afraid but rather, she'd be able to push past her fear.

And I'd be there all the way. Holding her hand and cheering her on.

I never had this conversation with Mami. She was good at holding everything down. Burying her sadness and disappointment and then dressing it with an unbothered sheath that I've never been able to replicate.

I think it's what killed her. What made her sick. Brave as she was. Strong as she was. There's only so much hurt and fear that you can swallow before you can no longer digest it and becomes poison to your physical body as it has become to your emotional self.

Fear. I want no part of it. I stare at it on a regular basis. The intrusive thoughts that I've learned to keep in check (unless anxiety gets the better of me), the unknown outcome of the leaps of faith I've made a habit of taking since losing my mother. I stare at it. Acknowledge it. And then tell it to fuck off.

The generational curse will be broken. My cautious child will have more courage than I ever will. She will stand up and do battle with her own beasts. I pray that I've poured enough into her to keep her strong, soft and sweet.

And fearless like nobody's business.

Because I believe that without realizing it, in the smallest of ways, our presence as parents has the ability to produce fearless children. In spite of (or perhaps because of) our own fears.