Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Being The Overprotective Type

A few weeks ago I was listening to NPR on the way home and heard a great piece in the "This I Believe" portion of All Things Considered.

Here's a snippet...

Courage Comes with Practice
by Theresa MacPhail
I believe that embracing fear produces courage.

After my brother died in an accident, my mother was inconsolable. I was only 4 years old at the time, but I still understood the seismic shift in my mom's attitude toward safety. Suddenly, everything around us was potentially dangerous. Overnight, the world had gone from a playground to a hazardous zone.


I encourage you to listen it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I find myself thinking about it alot. And I was wondering why this piece affected me so much. Sure, the message was great, but why did I relate so much to this story?


Because at so many times in our lives, as our allergic children pass milestones, we are the parent she describes. Overprotective at times in the extreme. I am so like her mother, so afraid of burying a child before I die (there, I said it out loud). I understood too well the fear her mother must have felt. The need to protect her remaining child lest she lose her too.

Parents of children with no allergies really can't understand the absolute fear we go through. Sure they know it's important, but until you're in our shoes you can't imagine the stress. How we worry about their mortality. How every phone call from the school (or daycare or babysitter) brings an instant wave of terror before you even answer. Or maybe that's just me? There are days honestly where I worry I wont see Bella at the end of the day. Some parents at school barely glance at their child when they walk out the door at drop off, but I purposely say goodbye and I love you each morning. Not dramatically or anything, but I am very mindful of it.

But, like the author, I take baby steps of courage for the sake of my daughter. Safe baby steps, mind you, but these baby steps are necessary for her to live as normal a life as possible.

I can't always protect her, but she will always be my baby.

4 comments: said...

Thank you, Peanut Free Mama, for this thoughtful post. It is a good reminder that even though the world is a scary, scary place for parents with severely allergic kids -- we need to guard against producing children fearful of the world around them. We owe them more.

Pez said...

Thanks for the post and link to the "This I Believe" segment. My mother is like Theresa MacPhail's mother so combine that upbringing with two food-allergic children and you can imagine what my anxiety level is most of the time.

Sadly, I know I have passed this anxiety along to my oldest son and that, combined with his own personality quirks, have made dealing with his peanut allergy very difficult this past year. We are working on making things better for him and I am trying my hardest not to show him how worried I am at times. And, I am trying not to make the same mistakes with my tree-nut allergic son. :(

Jenny said...

It's very hard because you want to make sure your child stays safe--but you want them to enjoy life, too. We walk a difficult tightrope at times as parents and I'm sure I've sometimes made mistakes by seeming "too concerned."

One thing food allergies does is to help us never take our children for granted, as you so rightly pointed out.

Karen said...

Wow. Great post. Thank you for sharing and speaking out loud what we all feel. This is why I LOVE the internet :)