Have you ever done a hill start in a manual car? It's very tricky to learn. You have to release your right foot from the brake whilst depressing your left foot on the clutch, but you have to find the sweet spot in the middle; release too quickly and the car will roll, release too slowly and the car will stall.
Well, for me, parenting is a bit like driving a car, and my love for my kids is the clutch, and my anxiety is the handbrake. And I am constantly needing to find that sweet spot between the two in order to drive smoothly and not roll down the hill.
Too much anxiety paralyzes me. I worry endlessly about my kids, I fantasize about worse case scenarios and I don't want to let my children out of my sight. If I wasn't constantly mindful, I could be consumed by anxiety. I can feel that person in the back of my mind, that crazy anxious parent who sees danger in every corner and awaits the day some terrible tragedy will occur.
But I won't be that person. I made that decision when my kids were born that I would not cripple them with my anxiety, and I haven't. I will not allow the dark thoughts to enter. I push them away and allow my kids to take risks. I send them down the road and let them play in the park and allow them to climb tall trees and encourage them to be independent.
I will not be that anxious person, not for their sake, and not for mine.
And yet... and yet... the anxiety is there. I won't allow it full expression, but it is there. And so I use it, I channel it, I hone it and I finely tune it so that it serves me and my children well. I access it when I need to. I allow myself moments of dread. I allow myself to think of what might be, just for a few seconds. Just enough. I release the brake, just a little bit.
I find the sweet spot. I find that sweet spot where I am not paralyzed by anxiety, but feel enough vulnerability to appreciate in every single part of me how lucky I am that my kids are okay. I find that sweet spot where I feel that surge of pure love, still so strong even after nearly 16 years of parenting. I find that sweet spot where I can stand over my sleeping child and feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Because anything could happen, and it hasn't. They are here.
The brake and the clutch. The anxiety and the love. I'm moving forwards. My hill starts are smooth.