She's going to wake up because of the thunder and lightening. When she wakes up, she's going to get scared because we don't get storms where we live and she's not used to them. She's going to want me. She's going to remember I am sleeping downstairs. She, in all her self-reliance will come to me rather than cry for me. She will try to navigate the steep staircase in the dark and foggy with sleep she will fall, breaking her neck.

This is what my mind went over and over like fingers on a worry stone. It was 2am and I had to get up at 5am for a flight taking my husband and I on vacation, leaving my three young children with my mother and stepfather, in a house with stairs, and guns, and a lake, and boats and big hunting dogs, and no childproofing and a million other possible dangers that could get my heart thumping wildly in an instant.

I worried about the big kids too but at six and ten, I knew they could navigate those steps even half asleep. I knew they would call for me if they were too scared. I knew they followed the lake rules and I knew that the worst that would happen to them was dehydration or sugar overload induced barfing. But the baby was still vulnerable and too daring and sneaky.

My mind went back to the stair/storm scenario. The image of my two year old with her neck broken at the bottom of the stairs flashed graphically in my mind against my will and it was too much for me, I had to go check her.

I got out of bed slowly, trying not to disturb my husband. It was going to be bad enough with one of us exhausted the next day, two tired cranky people spelled argument. I walked the stairs noting each area that could spell instant disaster for a small foot missing a step. I found her snuggled with her big brother, bum to bum in the full sized guest bed. I took a deep breath, fully breathing in the improbability of my own anxiety.

I covered them both back up and peeked in my middle daughter, limbs akimbo in the king sized island of a bed with her great grandmother. I got myself a drink of water and quietly padded down the stairs, feeling myself relax a bit with each step. I settle in to bed and as I drift again, the storm picks up. I will my mind to quiet down and let me find sleep.

I would like to say that having checked on the baby, I was able to nestle down and drift into dreamland. Rather, my night included five more identical trips up the stairs to check on her before relenting to my impulse to grab a comforter and go sleep on the floor in her room ready to intercept her should she awake. I think they have a pill for this, thank god it does not hit me often.

Combatting Anxiety With Affirmations

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Blues said... October 11, 2010 at 2:22 PM  

I don't know this kind of anxiety yet, but I imagine it must be the fiercest kind.

Arizaphale said... October 12, 2010 at 3:53 AM  

Sounds like it was more than just the stairs that was playing on your mind. Hope you get to enjoy the holiday! Lovely pic of a sweet, sweet girl....

Ginny said... October 12, 2010 at 10:53 PM  

This whole parenting business is the most prolonged and exquisite heartbreak available to humankind. I'm sure of it.

(Beautifully written, doll.)

Rassles said... October 30, 2010 at 2:22 PM  

I feel that way about my dog, but probably not nearly to the degree you're describing. I loved this.

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