Monday, September 29, 2008

What keeps me awake at night

At 2:30 in the morning, I still couldn't sleep because I was thinking about how so many children have disappeared and gone missing.

I suppose I was overly tired and my mind just turned to darker thoughts, as I do sometimes at night. Names of many children who disappeared or were abducted came to mind, and I thought of ways they might have suffered -- might still be suffering. My imagination got the best of me, and I had to check on Fly to make sure he was really still in his room, asleep.

It also doesn't help that I am in uncharted territory: just in the past two weeks, I have allowed Fly to walk on his own in public. Up until recently, he was either in a sling, in a stroller, in a cart or in my arms. But because he is getting so heavy (he's more than 30 pounds now), and because he greatly protests strollers and shopping carts (he threw himself face down on the ground at the entrance of the supermarket at the idea of being put in a cart, and he usually cries almost the whole time he is in one) -- and also because he is two now and needs to learn -- I have been allowing him some freedom. I require Fly to hold my hand in many situations, but sometimes I need both hands. When I can't hold his hand, I constantly remind him to stay close.

Fly, of course, has no fear. He knows I am nearby, and that is enough for him, emboldening him to tuck around a corner where I can't see him or to race ahead of me. He has always been an explorer; he's my son.

He is curious. He is friendly. He is cute. He is innocent. I know what could happen.

And so I come to a question every parent asks at various points in their child's life: how do I give my child freedom while making sure he is safe?

It was a fitful sleep, a night with worries and no answers.

So it was a relief to be woken up by my little boy, interrupting my dream about taking him somewhere to buy a toy.

Joy does come in the morning.

But those nights will nag me.

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Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

I know just what you mean. My oldest is 7 and I still limit him to our backyard and driveway. I'm not ready to let him bike our neighborhood like the rest of his friends. I just don't feel that sense of safety or security yet. I have to think about the actions of others, and wonder if he's mature enough to make the right decisions on his own just yet. It's so hard!


8:31 AM  
Blogger Madeline said...

The terrors of parenting! People tell you how great having a baby is, and it is joy beyond expression. However, you also begin to realize the pain you have potentially opened yourself up to. I now know why my mother still calls her grown children late at night to make sure we're all safe and at home. To think we used to just shake our heads and call her crazy! :)

9:07 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

As I was reading your post I was thinking I could have written it myself... but then I'm sure all mothers go through this. I'm starting to realize that it's never going to end. It's not an unfounded fear, children are taken all the time. I am struggling with trying to find the right balance between being careful and worrying myself sick.

10:27 AM  
Blogger amanda said...

i always feel so silly checking on her throughout the night. my husband thinks i am loony.

but sometimes those crazy in the middle of the night thoughts get the best of me and i just have to do it.

mommy worry is a crazy thing.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Freckle Face Girl said...

It is tough being a parent. I hate going into some stores at the mall (like Osh Kosh) because the racks are too close together and make it too easy to hide. Scary!

12:15 PM  
Anonymous much more than a mom said...

If I was any kind of a writer right now, I could have written this. Amen. Parenting is the most wonderful and the scariest thing I've ever done.

1:56 PM  
Blogger irmaJ said...

Reminds me of nights I used to have many years ago. Funny, now that my children have children of their own, now my dreams still have them as children! Remember that God takes care of your children and even though they are out of your sight, they are still in HIS sight! I have never prayed for children as much as now days! God protect the children!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Maternal Mirth said...

I have had these fears for over 11 years ... it's called being a mommy and loving your kids so much that the thought of a life without them keeps you awake at night.

May Fly never fly too far from Mommy :)

2:03 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

It is so scary, isn't it? I'm about to face a similar scenario, as I'll soon have three kids and two arms. I wonder if this is just a "mom fear" or if dads experience it too?

3:45 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I just started letting my son walk on his own to his friend's place around the corner. He is 9. Sheesh, my apron strings are tight.

But I do let E. walk almost everywhere. I just make her hold my hand when we are near traffic or in a shopping cart. Otherwise, I just walk at her pace and keep her in my sights.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

I hate letting my mind wander that way. Though it does make you treasure what you have and not take things for granted...

I require my kids to hold onto either me or the stroller/cart if we are in a tight situation. Any running off, by anyone of any age (including my 9 year old) means they are required to either hold the cart the ENTIRE time or Mom's hand. This is a bad punishment. Especially since they will get big stuff taken away at home if they don't follow the rules the SECOND time.

It's a great time to start teaching him to hold onto your pocket or coat string. You can also tie a string to your belt loop if you have busy hands for him to hang onto if you are opposed to the baby leashes (I have never used them, but understand the necessity for some children.)

7:25 PM  
Blogger CaraBee said...

When I was a kid I went everywhere by myself, starting when I was five or so. Biking or walking to friends' houses, the playground, school, etc. all without parental supervision. Or cell phones. (I know, gasp!) I hope that I can give my daughter some measure of the freedom I knew, but frankly it scares the jeepers out of me.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

It is a delicate balance, keeping them safe yet giving them wings.

9:54 PM  
Blogger White Hot Magik said...

I have been teaching my son my phone number, when I asked him why he mentioned in case a stranger took him he could call me. While I suppose that is good thinking, it upset me that it was his first answer. I reminded him that it was more likely because he got lost, or needed me while at a friends etc.

Just curious, did you work in your past that would heighten those fears?

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Leslie said...

" do I give my child freedom while making sure he is safe?"

I think this is the very hardest thing about parenting.

Your post made me think of this quote by Elizabeth Stone: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

11:47 PM  
Anonymous chelle said...

I totally totally get this. It is so scary! I am not ready to ever let them out of my sight.

5:09 AM  

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