I am afraid. For most people, it’s an emotion. In my case, it’s a character trait.

Ask those who know me the very best, and I’m sure they’ll nod in agreement.

I’m constantly eyeing strangers with suspicion and following “gut feelings” that are really just glorified paranoia. If something can go wrong, I’ve thought of it. If something is ridiculously unlikely to ever happen—well, you can bet I’ve thought of that too.

My comfort zone is no bigger than the dirt my feet are currently covering (although I’m working to change that . . . really, I am!)

I’m the woman who says, “Drive safe!” each and every time her husband jumps in his truck, wondering if she will see him again. I’m the woman who always has an exit strategy everywhere she goes, including the grocery store. I’m the woman who keeps her kids within arm’s reach during many public outings, just in case she should have to swoop them up at a moment’s notice.

These days you won’t likely find me in a large crowd, at a concert, or even at a movie theater—out of fear of the “what ifs”.

My inhibitions have kept me from places and experiences I would love to partake in, but I’m just too . . . darn . . . scared.

I know it’s not healthy to live in fear, but it’s a state I am constantly struggling to climb out of.

Since becoming a mother, I can 100 percent say my anxiety has intensified.

I wouldn’t deem myself a “helicopter mom,” but I do find myself lying awake in bed more often than I care to admit, wondering, worrying. At times the weight of the responsibility to keep my boys safe in this crazy world is enough to leave me paralyzed with fear.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to leap before looking. I used to enjoy trying new things and going new places. As I have grown older, however, my naive and happy-go-lucky outlook has been marred by the ugliness that surrounds us. I so often let myself become consumed with the darkness of the world rather than noticing all of the light it has to offer.

Sometimes I wonder if the world around me has sucked my courage dry or if my stakes in the game have just gotten that much higher now that I have two little heartbeats running around outside of my chest.

One thing I do know, though, is part of my responsibility as mother to my sons is to teach them to hold their heads up high and walk boldly into the face of the unknown. Somewhere, somehow, I must find it in me to lead with a strong, confident example. I am determined not to translate my own worries and fears onto these two innocent, wide-eyed, curious boys whom have been placed in my blessed charge.

Oh, little ones:

How can I teach you to be brave when I’m frightened of everything? How will I teach you the value of taking chances when I myself am so afraid of falling?

Let’s do this together, then. I’ll vow to give you the space you need to thrive, to learn, and to spread your wings. And in turn, you can teach me how to fly.

I’ll give you the freedom to know that you can, if you’ll remind me that I already have.

I’ll show you the meaning of courage, if you’ll teach me to be brave.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward