I have to admit I have never felt true fear until I became a mom. I have a vivid memory from my early days in LA as I pursued my dream to work as an actress in film. I was invited to ride the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Malibu on the back of a motorcycle, an invitation I accepted without hesitation. I can still see that brilliant ocean touching the sky on the horizon, the salt air wind whipping my face and hair and the utter release of myself in the elements. It was the closest thing to flying I have yet to experience. Afterward when I told an older friend I had taken this ride, I was surprised at the angered response at my carelessness. Didn’t I know I could have been killed? I suppose I had but it hadn’t seemed to matter at the time. I had felt wild and free and yes just a little bit dangerous…but afraid? Not at all.
Fast forward to seven years later when I was holding my first child in my arms and the fear was palpable. How could I be responsible for this tiny helpless creature who depended on me for everything? Suddenly there was so much to be afraid of. Global warming, stranger danger, that parent in 5th grade who let her kids watch R rated films when my child went to visit. Diseases, plastic toys with chemicals, fast food, mystery meat. Religious cults. Song lyrics! It was mind boggling. I had to drive my children everywhere and stay for every birthday party or event because in my mind, no one would watch out for them like I would. The fear would change and modify as they grew. Teenagers learning to drive. Sleepovers at homes of friends we barely knew. School trips. Nowhere was safe. And yet I slowly had to let go..and let go and let go. I had to trust that I had taught them all I could to make good choices, to be safe. And suddenly I am not that protector anymore. Suddenly they can pat my hand and reassure me that they are fine. Out in the world where I cannot see them nor should I follow them to make sure they are okay.
And yet…that is how it should be. That is the way of the world. We bear our children and raise them and nurture them and then send them out into the world to find their own life story. I must trust that they are fine and put the fear to rest. And yes in my secret heart of hearts I hope that they both experience in their lives that wild ocean side ride with the wind blowing through their hair…I just don’t want to know about it.