Just as a little precursor to the list I should say that part of the reason I try not to talk about these worries is because part of my mind knows that really they are unlikely and not worth wasting a lot of thought on. I have also found over the months that on a semi-regular basis Fergotron will tell me something she is worried about and while we discuss it, in my head I think ‘fuck, I hadn’t even thought of that’ and then that worry joins the list so I am attempting not to add to other parents lists too, so forgive me if I add to yours now.
My major worry these days is death. Everyone’s death. Mine, Fergotron’s, Lizzy Faces. Suddenly I am acutely aware that at any moment one or other of us might die and then the remaining people have all to deal with the world they know crashing around them. Some days I wake up convinced that the train will crash, if Fergotron goes out for the afternoon and is later than I expect I start checking my phone waiting for the call that she has crashed and died. Every time my phone rings during the day I am 100% sure it will be the nursery to say that the worst has happened (something so bad I cannot bring myself to type the sentence). Maybe Fergotron and I will both die and leave Lizzy, so now I am worried about her life and what will she do. I cannot bare to think about this and so it sits as an ever present fear behind every thought I have. Perhaps I should face it and then it might go away. Hmm…
I’m worried about the nursery. I have been since the second Lizzy Face was born. I want her to have friends, maybe the other babies won’t like to her. I sometimes get close to tears imagining my little girl being sad and lonely while the others play. Or even worse that someone might decide to bully her one day. My perfect, beautiful girl might get all her confidence taken away, she might be scared to go to school, the teachers might not know. She might start playing truant, doing other things and throw away her education and future just because some fucker has their own problems and wants to take it out on my baby. And why haven’t I noticed this, why haven’t I stopped it, why hasn’t she told me – I’ve failed our relationship because she can’t come to me. Maybe she did tell me and I wasn’t listening properly, maybe she told me and I thought I’d solved it?
And then it’s been 45 minutes that I’ve lost in this reverie of chastisement so dark and dour that I struggle to row back from it that day.
I worry about her being abused. Maybe she is being and I don’t know, she might not know that it’s bad. Maybe not now, maybe in the future she will be. Who can you trust? I was always a huge fan of the X- Files and their ‘Trust No One’ tag line has never seemed so appropriate. But you have to trust some people surely? And anyway, what choice do you have I can’t leave her at home on her own all day and I can’t afford to not go to work so I have to at least try and block out the distrust. While we are on that fact I worry about money. Everyone does, I think, but I’m convinced already that I don’t have enough money to give Lizzy Face the chances she deserves. I want her to have the best, to have access to everything she wants but I don’t have that for myself so how can I make it for her?
So then we won’t have another baby, this is all too stressful already and our finances are already stretched. Great; the only problem is that after this thought I start to worry that she will be spoiled, she will be lonely. She will want a sister and then we have deprived her of that. Maybe she wants a brother to look after her when she is older, or perhaps she would be a little resentful when she is older and her friends are going to their sister’s weddings or nephews christenings. Christ, my heart rate is up just thinking about this.
Of course then there are the additional day to day worries, things like Lizzy might put her hand in a plug sockets, or not eat properly, or be sick and we haven’t noticed. Oh, for example I might have been playing with her and accidentally broke one of her ribs because I was too rough. What if I drop her and she smashes her face on the floor, what if she falls off the sofa or chokes on a piece of Duplo or if she hates me already just because sometimes people just don’t click. Maybe they don’t feed her enough at nursery, maybe they don’t change her enough. Maybe she loves nursery and when we have our Fridays together I don’t do enough to keep her stimulated and she is bored and wishing she was elsewhere. Maybe she will grow up and get into drugs and/or alcohol. Maybe she will be overweight, or underweight. Maybe she will just be a manic depressive because hey, sometimes that’s just how the mind turns out. Maybe Fergotron and I will split up and she will have to choose between us, maybe she will spend her life between two houses, knowing she is loved but secretly wishing that she didn’t have to be. Maybe we won’t and we will just fight so much that we accidently destroy her anyway and she secretly wishes we would split up. Maybe she will hate us and leave home and never speak to us again. Crikey, that’s a hell of a lot to think about.
There is more of course, during the course of the day things pop up. So how do we deal with this? The worries surely aren’t going anywhere therefore the only answer is a coping mechanism. Mine is to keep quiet about it, don’t let it fully form and you have control of it. I’m not sure Freud would see it that way though.
So let’s talk about it instead? No thanks, I have enough worries already and so do you, so who wants to share them? Maybe we should only talk about the ones that crop up; why worry about something that hasn’t happened yet? I could plan all kinds of contingencies just in case, but I’d never get anything else done and for her part Lizzy would never actually do anything either. And that’s the hugest worry of all – that we spend so much time worrying, and so much energy trying to combat the things that worry us that we shield our babies from experiences and from the real world.
I suppose all we can do is draw on our own childhood. Mine was good and bad, but I was never really bullied, I was never abused and I was never neglected. Neither was anyone I know (as far as I know anyway). So I have to tell myself my worries are the neurotic worries of the parent and simply give them no attention. I try not to impart my fears and my personal issues, I will do the same with my worries. I hope one day to find Lizzy Face telling her own children the amazing and wonderful stories of her many adventures, but that won’t happen if we scare her and shield her from everything.
So I will keep my worries quiet, occasionally letting them spill over into my guitar playing or my Halo battles. But parents everywhere rest assured, if I look like I am super cool and just take everything in my stride, on the inside is a small, tired weary man with the weight of the world on his shoulders – but luckily the happiness of a man who knows the love of a partner and a daughter to balance it out. Maybe Dumbledore was right.