|YOU should be afraid of these three fierce pirates|
I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about this topic, three legitimate fears and got caught up in all the usual mental gymnastics I get into when I'm procrastinating, mostly centring around the current, common use of the word "legitimate", often where "sincere" is more apt (sort of a pet peeve of mine). To my mind, most of the quick, easy to answer about fears are not particularly legitimate, since the chances of being hurt or harmed by most of the things that people list as fears (spiders, vampires, etc.) are so slim they are almost nil. I could easily make a list of my top three of that type of fear (serial killers, vampires, the dark) pretty quickly, but none of those are at all legitimate.
Once I step into the realm of slightly more legit, the list gets way longer than three, and the details so much more personal. Honestly, I don't love this topic, but since I committed to write about it, here it is. Stream of consciousness and of no interest to anyone but my own self (and maybe a qualified therapist).
I'm afraid of being defined by my role as a mother forever.
I love being a mum, I love it more than anything else that I do, and I love the intense, demanding tasks of being a mum to young children - the diaper changes, baths, nursing, scraped elbows, cuddles through sleepless nights. Right now I can say that being a mum defines me and I'm OK with it, and I've let it because I want it to right now, because I made the choice to be a (mostly) stay at home mum, and my kids actually do need me for a very large percentage of their day, and I want to be there for them as much as I can.
But next September Oliver will go to school, and two years after that, Emmett, and little by little the ways that they need me will change. While right now, I don't mind vacuuming every other day, because those little hands and feet and mouths are all over the floor, picking up whatever's down there, in a few years, I won't be doing that because it's part of caring for my sons, and I don't want to be doing it just because I'm "the mum". If I'm not with my kids all day I might not see cooking dinner for them as a way to get a little "me" time and folding their laundry won't be a group activity that we all enjoy.
I don't want to wake up in twenty years and find that my routine is still the same as it was when I had children at home, minus the children. I don't want my boys to think that anyone in the world's life revolves around them, even mine. And I don't want my only mark on the world to be the fact that I played a part in raising two wonderful boys. I want that to be part of it, but just part.
It is hard right now to look forward, to plan ahead, when my day to day can be so intense, so many needs to meet, so many to-dos on my list. By the time I'm done with the work of being a mum, I don't always want to think about the work of being a person in the world. I know that I want to do more, but I don't know what that more is. For now I feel OK knowing that that desire is there, but I worry that one day, I'll just be exhausted, or too bored, or I'll just forget to think about it. I guess that leads me to my second fear:
I'm afraid that nothing will ever change and I'm afraid to make changes
This isn't to say that I'm not happy with my life as it is - although there are aspects of my life that I wish had changed a while ago. But I sort of thrive on change, or maybe thrive is the wrong word. I crave change, and I feel stifled by same-ness. In the past that's led me to make rash and ultimately wrong decisions, to make changes just for change's sake. Some of them serendipitous, some of them disastrous.
Now that I have a family of my own, and a real life, I find that I daydream about doing everything differently almost constantly, but I'm completely paralyzed when it comes to actually taking action. Now I have to consider how my changes will affect my children, and my husband, and my relationship with my children and my husband, not to mention the broader social network and net that we've built. That's a lot to take into account, and it tends to stop me in my tracks.
I've found over the past few years that in times when I'm most anxious to mix things up dramatically, I'll instead fixate on changing smaller things - my wardrobe, my hair, my furniture arrangement, just to try and scratch that itch without disrupting the balance of family life, but those little changes don't quite hit the mark, and can take me down roads that are wasteful (new clothes) or just wrong for me (short hair!). I'm afraid I'll never find a way to balance the needs of my family with the changes that I need to make for myself.
I'm afraid of not being young anymore
OK, first, yeah, I'm probably already not really young anymore, but let's read this section with some willing suspension of disbelief.
All the changes and accomplishments I'm hoping to see in my future (per the above)? I feel like in order for any of them to be real accomplishments, they also need to be accompanied by exclamations of "and you're so young!". How fucking weird, right?
I've never thought of myself as a person who cares about age, I definitely never thought I had a "scary age", but every time I try and chart a course in my mind - for example, let's say I wanted to go to law school.. I'm like "OK, so say a year or two trying to get in, then five years of school, then... nope, forget it, I'll be over 40 by then. No one is impressed by a 40 year old 1st time lawyer".
I don't know how or when I decided that I not only needed to find the most fulfilling path to follow, I also need to be Doogie Howser for it to be truly satisfying, but that's a hang-up I need to shake because that ship sailed a long, long time ago.