This single word (or Mum, mummy, mama etc) is enough to strike all of the fear into me. It’s also the single biggest fear I am facing everyday.
Well before being a mum was a reality, when it was only a speck of dust on a tiny idea in my young twenty-something brain, I feared the very thought of motherhood, believing it was something I couldn’t be good at and could never be ‘ready’ for.
Regardless of the parents you’ve been lucky or unlucky enough to have grown up with, its very likely that you will fear the parent you’ll become. You’ll either fear that you’ll be just like your parents or fear that you won’t be anything like them. Either way, it is a terrifying thought.
If you do happen to fall pregnant quickly and easily, its possible you’ll be fearful that it’s all happening too soon. If you don’t have it easy and it takes a long time, chances are you’ll feel the fear that it will never happen for you. You’ll consider all of the possible reasons why and you’ll fear simple things as well as the big things. If you’ve struggled and/or lost a baby you’ll always fight the fear that something will go wrong. It’s likely that this fear will carry itself into other parts of your life too.
It’s all terrifying, whichever way your journey leads you.
As a new Mum, you might fear that you aren’t good enough but also fear that you’re too much of a Mum. You’ll find a reason to fear that you’ve become too ‘mumsy’ overnight and left the old you behind. You might be afraid of the times you still want to be yourself, like it’s some kind of betrayal to your child and the rest of the motherhood. Conversely, you might feel fear that you don’t miss your previous life and feel like your betraying the old you when you sit amongst those that do. You’ll fear losing your old friends and worry that you won’t make new ones. Becoming a mum might turn you into someone you never knew you were or it might turn you into someone you always knew you could be. It might make you embrace a life you sneered at before or it might solidify what you already knew to be true. Either way, it’s terrifying.
As your child grows you’ll fear what life holds for them. You’ll fear that you can’t protect them enough yet worry if you protect them too much, they’ll never be able to protect themselves. You’ll be fearful that you’re not teaching them enough but also be fearful of all the things they’re learning from you when you’re not paying attention. You’ll worry that if you work, you’re not a good enough Mum and if you don’t work you’re not leading a good enough example. Perhaps as a Mum of a daughter this fear will be amplified. But if you are a mum of a son you’ll undoubtedly worry about what you are teaching your son about women.
As you watch them grow, you’ll hope that the times you were busy, stressed and tired are not the ones that they remember and as time passes you’ll worry whether you laughed, danced and cherished it all enough. When you look around and see everyone else cherishing every moment you’ll fear that there is something wrong with you. There isn’t.
As you nurture your child, you’ll be fearful they won’t have the confidence to explore the world and find all of the very best adventures it can offer. You’ll hope they will fly the nest and carve out their own passage all the while feeling the fear that they will fly too far to navigate back home.
When you reflect on yourself as a parent, you might find time to be fearful that you didn’t appreciate your own parents enough. You might apologise to them, all the while being terrified that your own child might treat you the same way you treated you treated them. They probably will.
You might be afraid that you don’t remember enough of your childhood and that you didn’t ask enough questions when you had the opportunity. You might look at the memories that you create for your own children and be full of fear that you didn’t cherish your own childhood keepsakes and memories enough.
Through all of your parenting adventures you will fear the judgement of others. The midwife, the health visitor, your own parents, the nursery staff, your child’s teachers, people in the supermarket, people in the cinema, people in the next house, mums at the park, mums at the swimming pool, mums at the dance class, mums in the cafe, the old people in the cafe, the young couple with no children, the lady with all the children who looks fearless, the glamorous mum who looks amazing, the confident mum who doesn’t care how she looks and every other single person in the universe. When you are around all of these people you might also find the time to fear that they thought you might have been judging them too.
The journey to motherhood from dream to reality and beyond is terrifying. You might even find yourself being afraid that you are too afraid. But you will face it and you will fight it. Each and every day. That’s what mothers do.