“I can’t do it. I’m too scared,” I told my husband as I got out of the skid steer.
“You don’t trust me?” he asked. “Would I ever ask you to do something that would hurt you?”
I thought on that statement a long time. It was new territory and I had no frame of reference for what he was asking me to do. Was I untrusting of the machine? Was I untrusting of my husband? Or was I just afraid?
Fast forward a few years. My three-year-old son came running inside crying frantically, “There’s a snake in the chicken pen!” Immediately fear gripped me. My husband ran outside and got rid of the snake, but my son was too terrified to go back outside and check for any eggs. Quite frankly, I was, too, but I knew that I did not want to teach my son to be afraid. So, I pulled on my big girl breeches and we headed for the chicken pen. My heart was racing, but I knew Carter needed to see me be as brave as possible so he could be brave, too. I stepped in and grabbed his hand. Together we looked around, carefully checked for snakes, and gathered the eggs. Yes, we were afraid, but we did it anyway.
Jump ahead five years. We are building our own house and my husband needs my help on the roof. As clumsy as I am and he wants me to get on the roof and help him? So, I push down my fear, carefully explain the rules of being on the roof to my four and eight-year-old sons, and we head up to the top. Everything inside of me screams to get down, but I know I must face my fears so that my boys will not learn to be afraid because I am afraid. I want them to have a healthy respect and learn safety rules, but I don’t want them to learn my fear.
In the midst of all of this unknown right now, I can feel anxiety and fear rising up inside of me. I am naturally fearful about everything and I always have been. I am constantly having my kids wash their hands and put on sanitizer. We are keeping our hands in our pockets and not touching everybody and everything. We are talking about germs and viruses and I am educating them on why this is so important. But I don’t want to pass on my fear. I want them to have a healthy respect for the unknown, but not sit around and worry about the future. I want to create fun learning opportunities, new adventures, and form new habits. But I refuse to make them afraid.
Fear is not the answer. Educating ourselves, respecting regulations, honoring requests, and maintaining safe distance is imperative. Yes, the future is scary and there are not many answers. But our kids and family members don’t need us in freak out mode. They just need us. They need us to be as brave as possible so they can be brave, too. Yes, we are afraid, but let’s pull on our big boy and big girl breeches and do it anyway. Be smart. Take precautions. Follow guidelines. But let’s not teach this next generation to live in fear. Draw the line in the sand. The fear stops here.