“We only live once, Snoopy.” ~Charlie Brown
“Wrong. We only die once. We live every day.” ~Snoopy
I am an anxious person. I haven’t always been though. When I had my first child, fourteen years ago, it was the week after my father died. My son was born and went right to the NICU where he spent the first fourteen days of his life. In that moment, I changed. I’d already had one miscarriage. I couldn’t lose anyone else.
Man, life is fragile. I spent the next decade making sure he played on the swings at the park, but not too high since he could fall and break his neck. We always took him to the river or the lake, but no swimming. There are amoebas in the water. (Funny and crazy, I know.)
I now have two children who are fourteen and nine. Just a couple weeks ago, we went to the zoo. I had to talk about not leaning on the railings; you could fall in an enclosure. I am exhausted. The worry never ends.
I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, anxious, neurotic, controlling, and scared. I never meant to be that helicopter mom. I had great ideas about how I would parent my kids. My husband and I always talked about how we would raise teenagers and what their curfews would be, but being in the middle of it, I’m terrified. I live in a constant state of panic and fear.
I constantly worry I’m having a heart attack or a stroke. I worry my kids will die. I worry I will die.
During the early months of the Covid-19 lockdown, we completely shut off from the world. Guess what? We all got Covid-19, except my nine-year-old. My elderly mother (who lives with us) got it too. I even sanitized groceries. We have no clue how we got it. We are all fine. Thank goodness. I know not everyone is as lucky.
Every pain or sniffle is a worst-case scenario. Have you ever seen the movie My Girl? I am totally Veda Sultenfuss.
It took several years, trips to the emergency room, shaky relationships, and whole lot of self-discovery to figure it out. I even got divorced because of it. My lack of confidence, yet another sad part of anxiety, made me think I wasn’t enough. I caused my divorce. Thankfully, we are remarried. He sees me, he sees the moments I am fun and carefree, and he helps me work through my anxiety. Old Bob Ross reruns help too.
So, what is the lesson here? I am not in control of a single thing. (Mind blown, I know.) Life is full of terrible things, wonderful things, heartache, tears, laughter, death of parents, even children. It’s life. It’s all those moments in between that make life worth living.
If we hide because of fear, we miss out on those moments. We miss out on a chance to save a memory we could pull out of our little brain file when we are seventy-three and watching the snowfall on Christmas morning when all our kids are grown up.
It’s really scary, letting go. It’s like walking on a tightrope. You see what could happen, but you just walk, because you know you’re not fully living if you sit out, and at the end of that walk, you realize how fast it went by. Either way, it will go by. It’s up to you how you spend that walk. Frank Sinatra says it best, that’s life.