How could I have let this happen?
The bus was scheduled to arrive two minutes ago. Where was he?
It was only two minutes, but my heart started racing and my breathing became shallow. I was filled with regret. Just two minutes ago, I was sitting comfortably on the sofa waiting for my 9-year-old son to walk in the door.
He should be here by now.
All the worst-case scenarios started to fill my brain.
What if someone took him straight off the bus?
What if he got hit?
What if he ran away? (He does talk about that when he is mad.)
This arrangement was obviously a mistake. I had promised Owen I would let him walk home from the bus stop this year. We live right on the corner, so it really shouldn’t have been a big deal.
But it was.
After frantically opening and closing the door numerous times, I heard the familiar sound of the bus stopping.
He was OK. He was safe.
I quickly moved to the kitchen as if to pretend I didn’t just have a complete nervous breakdown.
Owen walked in, never the wiser.
I quickly caught myself in the bad pattern again.
I needed to stop it right now.
I needed to stop the worrying.
In January of 2008, my husband Brian and I received the best news: we were having our first baby together. What initially was a joyful time turned to sorrow when we found out at the anatomy scan that he had a serious heart defect.
Sweet Liam was born that September and died eight days later.
We were devastated and not sure how to move forward.
When I found out I was pregnant again the following year, it was bittersweet.
While I was happy for the blessing, I was also still a grieving mother.
From the moment our rainbow baby Julia was born, we were absolutely in love.
We were also terrified.
At Julia’s first checkup, the doctor noticed a mole on her backside. The doctor said it was probably nothing, but it could be a marker for spina bifida.
It needed to be checked immediately.
I broke down and cried.
This could not be happening again.
I could not lose another child.
When we found out it was indeed nothing, my sigh of relief was short-lived. In my way of thinking, life was way too fragile and anything could go wrong.
It was a terrifying notion, but one I obsessed over.
When I bathed her, I worried the soap would sting and burn her little eyes.
When I fed her, I was prepared to do the Heimlich with every gag.
When she developed a rash, I refused to use any of the creams for fear they were toxic.
I watched her like a hawk.
In short, I did everything except what I should have been doing: enjoying my child.
By the time I found out I was pregnant with our third child, I wondered how I would keep both of them alive.
I also wondered how I would stop from going down this dangerous road.
I knew I had a problem.
I so desperately wanted to go back to my first few nights of having a precious newborn fall asleep on my chest.
I wanted to erase the bad memory of finding out my daughter might have an illness.
I also wanted to have my firstborn son here—alive and healthy.
Through talk therapy, I understood that my anxieties were a reaction to the trauma of losing Liam.
I also understood that preventing my children from spreading their wings was not in their best interest.
It wasn’t easy, but I began to ease up.
Slowly, I started giving them the freedom to become more independent.
I began to breathe easier, so they could as well.
Growth is a gift, and I am here to experience it with those I love.
And my children are the biggest gifts of all.