Thursday, July 7, 2011

facing the fear

A new bike!

With gears!

Oh my!

It's big, and beautiful and bold, and, well, right now?

Just a bit scary.

Yesterday at the almost end of a glorious ride to the beach
saw a small girl on one side of a busy freeway crossing,
with her mama on the other side.

She just couldn't get started in time, and by the time I'd got two other kids across, there she was, like a little duckling on the other side of the river. Alone.

(and silly me; why didn't I have her get off the bike? Why didn't we walk? Ack)

It meant I had to wait the entire course of lights, 'til I could go get her and bring her safely back. Not long but sooo long…watching my girl as she wept on the other side.

When she got to me? Floods of tears, her helmeted head against my chest, crying and crying it out.

And then?

Well, I said, Let's get going again, shall we?

No! I never want to ride again!

Yes you do, I said gently, and turned her bike to face home (which wasn't far, but must have seemed so far to her). I knew she didn't mean it; I knew she'd be okay, and she knew she didn't mean it, and I suppose in that moment she trusted she would be okay too.

Because she rode home. (And cried a bit more. And walked, but only a little.) And then we talked, arms wrapped around each other, when we got home. About practising the things she is afraid of (like starting! Stopping! Crossing roads!) and about the things she had already accomplished (like riding a much much bigger bike! With gears! All the way to the beach and back!).

And somewhere in the conversation, she smiled, and we talked, together, of the next beautiful ride we'd go on, hopefully tomorrow.

Ah. It's a crazy life, isn't it? You teeter between fear and faith, always.

We're all trying to find a path through, aren't we. From accepting fear, then going ahead anyway, trusting, somehow, that we'll be okay. (That is, if it's not entirely crazy to go ahead—like jumping into alligator-infested waters. Don't do it!).

You want to be able to say, I am afraid (and be heard, comforted, held). And then keep going. Somewhere in the fear-fueled pool of you, you really do want to let go, and risk Everything. Because the reward when you do?

Wind in the hair! Speed at your feet, the path whizzing by! And one day? Arms outstretched and flying.

I feel fear every day. I do. It's not easy, being an often wobbly, always sensitive person who could easily lie down in the face of all the things I'm afraid of, taking on the persona of the Strong, reliable Mama.

It's amazing they buy it, so much of the time.

Sometimes, in the spirit of solidarity, on a hard and afraid day, I fess up. I say, Guess what? I am afraid sometimes, too.
But I only fess a little and I don't go on, because the truth is,

there's a worry person inside me always.

She's tiny but tenacious. She says, But how do you know it'll be all right? How can you make sure everyone is always safe? What if it all goes wrong? What if? How? What if? When? What if?

My worry self tries, sometimes, to rise above the rest of me. Cheeping, bleating (and sometimes, on Big Worry days, roaring). If I was to let that self take hold, I'd probably just stay in bed forever, and order in.

I wouldn't be much of a Mama and I wouldn't have much of a life.

So in the worst moments, I march in on my worry self and say, That's enough now. I have to be Firm and No Nonsense, then. I shut the door tight and hard, put a chair against it, to stop the worst fears from sliding back in.

And then? I live.

I've tried Firm in the past with my girl, on her worst worry days. I've said, Stop Now, and That's Enough.

It doesn't work.

It doesn't fit her (or the Mama I want to be). It can only fit if she says the words. And she isn't ready yet.

She is my little girl, still. She still needs my arms, my closeness, my voice saying, I know it will be all right because of reasons A, B, C, and D. (And E for good measure.) I know it will be all right because I am here, protecting you.

She might need my protection for a while.

But I hope that one day, when she is facing her fears by herself, she can be brighter and lighter than I have been sometimes. And kind and patient because fears come to grown-ups too. And she will walk boldly into new things, in her own brave light, because that will bring her so much joy,

just as it has for me.


  1. Oh Helena, you are just the kinda mama I would love to have! My mama, bless her heart is the total panic person, she let it show all the time and made me scared of things I should not have been scared of. Not her fault of course as she was scared herself. You are so brave to hold your "what if's" at bay. I can just imagine your little ones fear being on the other side of the road and yours too!!! She is also very brave. A more scared child may have run out anyway. I so so love the openess of this post. It really shares your feelings so well and made me think a lot on some of my own unrelated feelings too.

    That last picture is awesome! Love it! Love how she is riding off ALL by herself! What an amazing girl!

    Big hugs all round xoxoxox

  2. Between fear and faith. Powerful words Helena. We all live somewhere in the middle. I guess our goal is to work towards staying on the faith end of the spectrum. Another post I am going to remember long after I post this comment. Thank you.

  3. I love that too Helena...'between fear and faith" Isn't that a huge truth? It is hard to be strong yet afraid isn't it? I get so scared for Kei sometimes, and I try so hard not to let my fear effect her. I praise and soothe, all the time praying, "Please God watch out for her" It is what we do...we who love our children so deeply.

    Yay for your brave girl. Isn't that REAL bravery? Being afraid and doing it anyway. Hugs to you and your girl.

  4. Beautiful post, again. The balance between fear and courage is ongoing isn't it. And the children's greatest examples on finding balance are their parents. I think that's why I can relate to you so much. I always am wondering what and how I am modeling, fearing that I am not showing the best sides of me and yet trying to have faith that they will still figure it out just fine, even when I'm not. Your children are incredible, and that speaks volumes about you :).

  5. Oh yes. From one big person who is scared of bike riding to a little one, how lucky you are to have a mum who helps you past the fear. Keeping going little one, keep going!

    From one mum who has to constantly remind herself that MY fears are not their fears, to another mum who inspires me with her words and pics, keep going!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.