At times, we are asked to face fear in motherhood. When we do, we open our hearts to our purpose.
I was sitting in my bed, trying to make sense of what just happened. My three-week-old baby had died. Nothing was wrong. He was here one day and gone the next. I was rattled to the core, but what stood out to me the most was the awareness that I was not in control, and I never had been. There was nothing I could do to bring him back. I was shipwrecked by grief and pain with three living children to raise and haunted by the realization that this may not be the hardest thing I ever go through. Something could happen to my other children. Or my husband. Or someone else that I loved. There. I said it. My other children could die. Nothing seemed safe anymore. It never had been, but I was able to pretend before, and I couldn’t anymore.
It’s not something we let come to the surface. We bury death behind phrases like “passed away”. Hospitals and funeral homes handle the body to shield us from the realities. We often do not have open caskets. Sometimes we do not have caskets at all.
Why am I bringing this up? Because something has happened to all of us. The entire country has canceled school and daycare to keep our children safe from a virus that is making its way through the world. We don’t know about summer camps or swimming pools or churches. We are pretty sure the kids are going back to school in the fall, but what measures will the school take? Is it really safe? What can we do to protect our children from this? What about our finances? How will we provide for them when our economy and jobs have been questioned? Is the food supply secure?
Sobering realities and unanswered questions are all that we really have. How do we face the mortality of our children, or our own mortality for that matter, now that we have been asked to? Well, there will be those who push it aside and refuse to worry. There will be those who overreact, who will struggle with anxiety and sleep. The entire range will be there because everyone is different, but everyone is facing these questions.
My 10-year-old has asthma and allergies and is sick quite often. What happens if he gets the virus? Will he be able to fight it? Are we as mothers able to ask these questions? Are we brave enough?
This isn’t an invitation to worry. This is an invitation to ask your anxiety a question. What will I do if someone in my family gets this virus? Maybe if you go there, you will find out the truth that our children were never ours to begin with. They are gifts for as long as they are here. Bravery today means taking all the right precautions and then resting at night, knowing that we are not ultimately in control. There is something scary about that – but there is also something freeing about that. Maybe that is something I can tell you, as a mom who had to give a baby back. Your worry does not serve you, and it won’t protect you or your child from anything. Today is a gift. Our children are a gift. We have to keep our hands open and live one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. Am I afraid of this? Sometimes. But mostly I’m trying to remember that we can face the fear in motherhood because, as mothers, we will do anything for our children.