Wednesday, February 11, 2009


When I was a small child, I was afraid of dogs.

The fear began, I believe, because my weight at that time was equitable to that of a paper clip, and my legs were so short that I could barely outrun a turtle. I was an easy target for large, slobbering canines whose teeth were at my eye level. Consequently, I endured many close encounters with over-friendly, if not vicious, dogs.

I also suffered the traumatic loss of half the head of my plastic ride-on pony to an overzealous, biting puppy, furthering my dislike for man’s best friend.

As I grew up and was able to see the tops of the dogs’ heads, I realized that my fears were unfounded. These dogs that I had been fearing were not so bad. In fact, I came to enjoy their company.

To my knowledge, my early experiences with dogs were also my earliest lessons in living with and overcoming fear. The lesson was so successful that I made it my goal in life to knock down fear wherever it sprang up.

I overcame fear of lightning, darkness, bugs, and broccoli. I even overcame my fear of people. I overcame that fear so well that I eventually minored in public speaking in college.

Wherever I turned, it seemed, there was a fear to be dealt with, and I gave the death blow to them all. Scary fair rides? No problem. I would jump in without a thought and allow a rough looking character to latch me into a metal cage and hurl me through the air at thrilling speeds. Overcoming fear had become a source of entertainment.

But looking back at all my previous fears, they all seem trivial compared to the fear I am facing right now. Tomorrow I am expected to step onto an airplane, strap myself in, and fly hundreds of miles away from my babies.

I realize that normal people do this all the time. I realize that statistics demonstrate that flying is actually safer than driving a car, something that I do almost daily without much fear at all. I realize that our parents, who were apparently rather successful in their endeavors to raise their own children, are probably competent enough to handle mine for a few days.

They will be fed, clothed, bathed, sheltered, and loved. They will be snug in their own beds at night and snuggled when they wake in the morning.

All of these realizations do little to pacify this fear that rises up from my chest and threatens to burst out of my mouth with a piercing yell. I have become that weak little child facing the jaws of a canine.

As usual, I find parenthood to be the most humbling of experiences. Anything you think you know is proven wrong. Anything you predict is proven inaccurate. I thought I could overcome any fear until I prepared to walk away from my children for a few days; now I know I still have a long way to go before meeting my childhood goal of being fearless, and I realize that it was probably not a realistic goal in the first place.

Fear has its place in our lives. It serves as a motivating force and, perhaps more importantly, a safety mechanism.

So tomorrow, rather than focusing on being fearless, I’ll shoot for being tearless instead.

Any guesses how that will work out?


Anonymous said...

I overcame my fear of flying because my son enlisted in the Army. At times he is someplace that I can go see him but he does not have the leave time to come home. Having my son at the other end of the flight made it worthwhile, even to travel to Germany this summer. Your kids will enjoy the loving and spoiling that grandparents can do when Mom is away or out of sight.

Hafts Happenings said...

I remember the first time I left my kiddos, hubby and I were celebrating our 10th and took a trip to Puerto Rico. At that time my four were, 8,7,5 and 2. I cried leaving them, had fun while I was there and after the 4th day was ready to go back to my babies! Dramamine helped the flight. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

threecollie said...

You take care of yourself now...I understand how you must feel. I could never seem to leave mine without cringing. Even now...and the youngest is 18 and would probably be cheering if I left.

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

Take care, and know you'll be in thoughts and prayers tomorrow!

Jenny said...

As the daughter of a flight attendent and airline mechanic, all I can do is assure you that it will be ok. I LOVE flying. The hardest part about it will be the seperation of you and the kids. The first time I went somewhere without them was to go to Ohio to see Grandma on her deathbed. I cried more in the airport leaving my then 4 and 2 year old for the first time ever than I did for my grandmother. It was tough, and I sure was glad to get back to them. Just keep that in mind how much they will also miss and appreciate you when you return.

Dawn said...

You'll do fine... I just know you will!

And, just keep reminding yourself of how happy the kiddos will be to see you after the absence. Guaranteed good behavior for a few days maybe!


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