What are you afraid of? I hate bugs. Strike that. I hate how bugs make me feel….TERRIFIED! Paralyzing, ceasing to breathe, hair raising fear spreads across my body when any bug crosses my path. I’ve contemplated getting therapy, undergoing hypnosis or anything that can relieve me of this fear. The fear is so great, that one day a few years back, I actually sat in my car in my driveway for over an hour. You see, there was a spider sitting on the doorknob of my front door and I was too scared to try to open it. It is that bad.
I am not in any denial at how ridiculous I can be when it comes to bugs. I am used to the ridicule I receive from family and friends who simply can not wrap their head around being so terrified of these creepy crawlies. When I was pregnant, I began to think about being alone in my house with my baby in various scenarios. One of them involved bugs. What if there was a bug in the house and I was too scared to shoo it or kill it? Would I lock myself in a room with my newborn? What if she needed something in the room where the bug was? Man, did I have to get over this!
When my baby girl arrived, I was lucky enough to have never found myself in that situation. However, as she’s gotten older, I have noticed that she would tell me she is scared of bugs. She would see an insect and make a face and squeal in terror. Did I do this? Did I just pass on my dread of bugs without even knowing it? I thought about any situation we were in where I would’ve shown my aversion. I couldn’t pinpoint anything, but knew something along the way had to have happened. I decided from that day forward, I had to show no fear. The thought of passing on my fear to my little girl saddened and frustrated me. I didn’t want her to suffer the same fate I had. Not only a fear about bugs, but a fear about anything. I didn’t want her to have worry at such a young age. I didn’t want her to feel that she couldn’t do something. As we get older, we begin to learn about limitations and struggles. At the age of 3, I wanted her to spread her wings and fly. To be limitless and free to believe she can do it all. I would rather have her skin her knee trying climb the tires at the playground than stand on the sidelines too scared to even try. Do I want her to get hurt? Absolutely not! No mother wants that. But a skinned knee heals easily, while a fear takes much longer to overcome.
With this mind, I have now killed 3 bugs to date. That might not seem like much, but for someone who has lived in such terror for 35 years, it is a huge accomplishment. When we are outside and we see bugs, I suck it up and even tell my girl that they aren’t all that scary. I tell her not to worry, that they aren’t there to hurt her. She’s seemed to get a lot better seeing how mommy deals with them. Seeing this change in her made me think even harder about what I choose to expose her to. It made me think of the words I use, how I talk to and talk about other people. Even when I think she isn’t paying attention, she is. She is soaking up everything around her, with me being around her more than anyone or anything.
When I expressed this revelation to another mommy friend of mine, she told me something that was so upsetting. She, like most of us women, has a distorted body image of herself. She told me that she must’ve used the word “fat” while eating out with her friend. Shortly after, her own 3 year old was eating and said, “I eat the whole thing. I know, mommy, I’m fat.” My friend was heartbroken! We began to talk about the huge responsible we have as moms. We are the first round of defense to the rest of the harsh world for our kids. We won’t be able to protect them from everything they see or hear or encounter. But in these early years, we can only hope we instill enough good qualities and give them enough confidence and knowledge, so that when they are exposed to much more, they can deal with it a lot better. Is it a fail safe solution to hoping they won’t fall prey to peer pressure or body image issues or low self esteem? Who knows. But at least we can try. After all, what are we so afraid of?