2021 was gonna be my year. I say that every new year, but this year something felt different. And it took a while for that feeling to settle in me, for me to know what I meant when I said I was gonna do more this year.
I’ve started to learn things about myself. I think being a parent makes you start to assess and look inward a bit more. Well, it does for me. And when I started to assess me I didn’t like what I saw. I’ve been living scared for a long time. And scared of things I didn’t know I was scared of. Having a kid is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t realise quite how frightened I would be before I got pregnant. I have always been someone who thinks about the what ifs. I used to think about the things that could happen to a baby I may someday have long before I even thought of getting pregnant. But once I was pregnant the doom set in. I started thinking about the hundreds of things that could possibly happen to this tiny thing growing inside me. I’ve said it before, but I ended up in hospital almost every two weeks for checks – thanks Gestational Diabetes – but honestly it made me so happy to go in. To be told regularly that you are fine; your baby is fine. There is nothing wrong. Those visits reassured me every time. But it was always short lived. The doom would settle in, usually at night when I couldn’t sleep, and I’d start going down the black hole of Internet forums and medical sites. Terrible idea. I don’t recommend it.
The doom continued once R made his way into the world, held aloft like Simba above my open belly. The things I had heard of, the possibilities of things that could be a concern, real and imagined, were endless. Again, it was usually late at night when neither he nor I could sleep. I would be convinced it was something more serious than just a bad case of wind.
What I am trying to say, if in a roundabout way, is that having him, growing him, caring for him is the single most terrifying thing I have ever done. It is fulfilling, rewarding, entertaining, and it comes mostly naturally and I am lucky for all of those things. But when I actually stop and consciously think about it, it scares the bejeesus out of me.
But I kind of thought if I can do this, I can do other things too.
I chopped my hair off. Now that isn’t something that scares me, but it is symbolic right?
I went away for a night and left the two boys home alone. And they survived. They were both exhausted and very happy to see me by the time I got home, but they survived. We all did. And then I went away overnight again. And again. And every time was a little bit easier. Every time felt a little bit less like my beating heart was left behind in the house while I trundled further and further away.
But the trundling away was, in itself, a pain in the ass. I don’t drive. I am late 30’s and I have never sat my driving test. I have had every reason and excuse under the sun, most of them genuine, some of them less so, as to why I haven’t gone through with it. I have been learning to drive for over a decade. But never followed through. But this summer, I bought a car. It was the step I feared most. The cost of a car is a huge thing to me. For someone who lives week to week, paycheck to paycheck, shelling out even for a cheap car is almost physically painful. It is a huge weight hanging over me. But I decided the fears I felt about driving were nothing I couldn’t get over with some practice and confidence. So I bought a car. Now I have to drive it.
And then I decided to face one more fear. I submitted a piece I have written into a short story competition. The fear of being judged for my writing is real and lingering and partly why I don’t write much. Now if you’re reading this, you’re wondering what is she talking about. But thoughts and views written on a blog feels entirely removed from the creative writing involved in a short story. So here I am, anxiously awaiting the results of this contest. I know the long list of finalists won’t be released until maybe Christmas or even the new year, but I still keep sporadically checking the website on the off chance I missed the email saying Here It Is! Our Finalists. And I know the likelihood that my name will be on that list is somewhere between slim and not a chance, but I keep checking. I think because I am fearful of what people will say when they read it. If they read it.
I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision, that I was doing these things out of a need to face my fears, out of a desire to find out who exactly I am, but more that they don’t scare me quite as much any more. If I can grow a baby, be sliced open and recover from it, and raise a healthy and happy two year old, then driving a car is a doddle. Having my work judged is…well, still terrifying but its getting easier. It doesn’t frighten me quite the same way anymore.
Still, pen name suggestions welcome.