As a parent I take pride in being able to answer most of the questions my sons have for me. If I can’t answer the question with my 43 years on earth I can at least let them know that we can look up the answer. Until a few nights ago. I was sitting with my back to my son and with a clear and direct voice I heard this question, “Papa, what are you scared of?” I thought about answering quickly and then I decided to tell him that I would need a day or two to think about this one.
Through the eyes of a child a parent is larger than life, a shoulder to cry and lean on. Parents are the strong ones. I decided not tell him that as a parent I spend a great deal of time being “scared”. I decided not to tell him that I was scared 3 seconds after you were born that your head would stay cone shaped forever. I was scared while I was at work that something may happen to you or your mom while I was away. I was scared when I was home and holding you and trying to stop your chollicly tears. I was scared when you were asleep. I was scared of so much crying and scared of silence. I was scared that I was not going to be a good dad and more scared that I was not going to be a good husband and partner to your mom.
And that time passed- you grew, your tears from a constant tummy ache stopped, you began to use words, sign language, your started growing but that did not stop me from being scared–just as you are changing ever day. I am scared of different things now. I am scared with each decision I make- am I too strict, am I too much of a pushover. Am I giving you the tools you will need to be a Good Man as you grow. Am I pushing you too much- am I not pushing enough? Am I still a good partner and husband to your Mom- who deserves the very best I have to give. There are some nights when everyone else is asleep that my chest hurts with questions. Am I giving you a good life- have I left a enough money in the account to buy you not just the things you need but ocassionally the things you just want because that what kids do. Have I upset you and not realized it- have you gone to bed happy with your day. Did I lock the backdoors before bed, did I leave the stove on (your mom is much better about that), are there batteries in the smoke detector and I hope we all wake up happy together. Alone, at night is when I am scared, sometimes tears run down my face and I can’t even tell anyone why- not because I have no one to tell but because I have no idea why- I can not explain it. I am scared that there are times when I can not keep you safe. There are times when your feelings will get hurt, times when your heart will get hurt and I will have to let you learn and grow ON YOUR OWN when this happens. I am not scared about the cuts, scrapes and broken bones you may get as you become more adventurous but I am scared that I will not be strong enough to hold you up when your heart gets hurt. Remember I almost cried when you got your first shots and your cried. Your mom can tell you. Just last week you cried during your first soccer practice, your mom and me knew you were crying but had to let you decide how to handle it. That was hard.
“What am I scared of, you ask?” EVERYTHING about being a parent is a mix of scared and joy, success and doubt, easy and yet the hardest thing I have ever done.
“What I am scared of Papa?” asks my 5 year old. After two days I think I have an answer fit for a Papa answering a 5 year old son. I am scared of trying New things–this does not mean I won’t try new things but I am always a little nervous about trying. The first time I was Guiding my first White Water Trip I was scared, it was new but I tried it and now our family enjoys our White Water trips. Imagine if I never tried?