Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Giving in to Fear

When you have children, "worrying" takes on a whole new meaning. My sister-in-law was lamenting to me the other day that she had no idea how much she'd worry about her newborn baby. They had recently spent a week in the hospital because of a virus and it had made her realize just how drastically different life is after parenthood. She said, "Everyone always says you love your baby more than anything else, but until you have a baby yourself, you just have NO IDEA how true that is." We talked for a few minutes about the realization that we'll never be able to protect our kids from everything - that if you don't make a conscious effort not to, you'll give in to fear.

A parent's greatest fear, of course, is that our beautiful children will be taken from us. But really, if we're not careful, we can live in a mild state of fear every day.

My oldest daughter is 5 and has grown very needy, mopey, and even more emotional than normal. I can look at her the wrong way and she breaks into tears. Her sister can threaten to hit her and she'll shrink back and scream. I, of course, respond in those moments in hopes of immediately influencing her behavior. But lately, I've noticed those moments are plagued with concern. I'm worried that she's going to be a wuss. That she's never going to be confident. That she will never stand up to people being mean or rude to her. That she will never be able to deal with any difficult situations.

I find myself pouring over books and the internet looking for some parenting trick that will solve this particular problem. I start doubting whether or not I should be homeschooling her. I notice myself worrying about her 10 years from now and what kind of teenager she'll be. I feel myself becoming anxious and even more frustrated when the same behavior happens again.

But there is really only one problem in all of this: my own fear. 

The present moment does not require that I solve some perceived problem of the future. I don't need to figure out how to keep her from crying when she's 15. I don't need to figure out how to avoid possible embarrassing situations that she may or may not face in the next month, year, or decade. The present moment simply requires that I stay true to my values as her mother. When I give into fear, I forget that I already know the answer to whatever the moment requires. Usually, it involves love and guidance, a hug, and some reassurance that all is right with the world.

I'm not saying that if you stop giving into fear, parenting will be a breeze. Parenting is hard as hell. And for good reason. But I think that, sometimes, we make it even harder on ourselves.

So when you feel the fear coming on, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the only thing requiring your attention is the present moment you find yourself in. The Buddha said it best:

“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There's only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.”


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for having this blog. You have NO IDEA how much your are helping me right now. I found it because I was looking at whether it was better to be in the Ikego towers or Yokosuka Towers. We will be there next year and while I'm REALLY excited, I just wanted someone to show me what it will be like to be in japan by myself with two little girls (one just turned 3 and the other is about to turn 2). So please know that when you see your viewing spike over the next little while, It's me, reading EVERYTHING. lol

    1. Thank YOU for reading! When we were getting ready to move, I knew nothing about Japan and had never done a PCS move before. So I tried to chronicle everything about the process for other people who felt as clueless as I did. If you make an effort to learn about Japan - and get out to explore it - you will really like it here. Good luck! And please, don't hesitate to ask me anything.

  2. Thanks for the well wishes. And I am in the SAME boat. And I have spent so many hours looking at what everyone has to say, but to have a CURRENT blog, with pictures, with someone who appears to have the same mindset and values as me and a similar family unit makes a WORLD of difference. It's also been a lot of comfort to me to see you take your girls places without knowing much japanese because it's showing me that it's not as scary as I've had it in my brain lol My husband will likely be gone for almost half of the year and I don't want to be unable to explore just because he's gone. Again, thanks so much, and keep up the great work! I went to the facebook page too. awesome! :-)