“Mom, can I help you wash the dishes,” my 4 ½ year old son asks me as I am down at the waterfall getting our breakfast dishes washed up. We had been camping for a couple of days and he wanted to help me. I immediately thought of him falling in the water and said no, it’s too dangerous. As a parent you always look out for your children in situations such as this, but after the traumatic experience with Rowyn in September, these fearful thoughts are faster and more real. As I kept on washing the dishes he finally crept up behind me and took over the sponge and a pot. I watched him and let him continue with it. I was looking at him, realizing I am right there, do I not even trust my own self making sure he doesn’t fall in? I may not. It was a proud moment for me as a mom watching my son help with the dishes of camping, but also a growing moment for both of us. Him as a little human and me as this sort of “new parent” status post the accident.
I get so afraid of things happening to the people I love, that I almost expect the worst in every situation. It is not good to do that, and it is incredibly stressful, but I have anxiety about everything now. I had anxiety bad before we left on the trip, and then again on the trip and then of course home from the trip anxiety. My almost thirteen year old niece was with us camping. She asked if she could walk the short distance to the waterfall with my son. The waterfall itself is decent size, the stream running fast, but extremely shallow. My husband and I let them go. As we sat in our lawn chairs, listening to the quiet sound of the wilderness around us I asked him, “Do you think the kids are okay?” “Yes,” he said, “But I’m going to go check on them anyways.” As he got up and walked down the little trail to find them the fear went through me in a paralyzing way. I was waiting to hear him scream for me, I was waiting to hear panic in the distance and I was praying like a mad woman the whole 3 minutes he was gone. I had already thought about how fast we could get somewhere with cell phone service to call for help. I had every thought of what could have gone wrong on their walk go through my head. A few minutes later, my husband appeared slowly walking, calm as normal and I felt myself breathe. They were okay.
How do you parent and allow your kids to try new things, grow up and be kids without being too paranoid and anxious?
He really wanted to cross this log up there and I refused to let him. On a walk up there with the other older kids he got to go across it. I never would have let him, but it was one of the best parts of the trip for him. A growing up experience. It was probably supposed to be a secret from me that he could not bear to keep because he was so excited.
I also did a lot of watching of my younger son. He was pretty little when we camped last year so this was the first year we could let him run around. Every time a car pulled forward or backward or came by the road I wanted him in someones arms if he wasn’t in my own. I couldn’t help but watch all the little things he was doing and exploring without thinking about Rowyn. How she would have changed between the seventeen month old she was in September into the nineteen month old my son was now. This is something that I struggle with a lot. Would she be eating her first s’more or bouncing through the puddles like the other kids. As if we weren’t thinking of her so much of the time anyways, or at least I was, little butterflies were all around us at the lake. It was as if she was right along with us the whole time and wanted everyone to know. I’ll always carry this paranoia with me, but I hope to be able to one day sit back and relax as I watch them grow to be kids.