Motherhood changed all of that.
When Amanda reached about eight or ten months old, I suddenly started worrying about her. What if something happened? What if she didn't wake up? By this age she had gained a personality and I knew that I would really miss her if I were to lose her. I had also probably had enough experience to realize that I could not keep her safe all the time. She was always an active toddler and child, but we've managed to make it eight and half years with no trips to the ER.
Kyle made a dramatic entry into this world. Everything was fine, but just barely. I have a feeling that this may have been a bit of foreshadowing. At his three-year-old appointment, the doctor noticed that he had scrapes and bruises in all the right places (covering both legs). Over the last month, I've had two big doses of worry. Motherfear.
When we were camping a few weeks ago, I went to retrieve the kids from the small pond that Amanda had discovered as soon as we got there so that we could go to Hershey Park. I was walking down the street and saw Amanda running on the street that runs parallel. "Amanda! Come on, it's time to go!" We began walking towards each other. "Where's Kyle?" I asked. "He's gone. I don't know where he is. Daddy is looking, too." I saw fear and worry all over her face as she held back tears. My heart froze. I became instantly concerned for both of them. I knew that within the circular confines of the small campground that we would find him, although it might not be too easy. So, we went in the opposite way that Terry had been going. We both ran and looked into the campsites lining the each side of the road, "Kyle! Kyle!" As we turned the corner, we saw Terry carrying Kyle. He had found him in the playground, which was just a few sites away from the pond where they had been, but in the opposite direction from the way back to the campsite. As is most often the case, he did not even know he was lost. Amanda had learned her lesson on her own, and we talked about it.
"Amanda, you have to be very careful if you are going to be responsible for your brother."I had my own scare last week. I was with him in the preschool room at church. He was jumping off the table, which was much higher than the very low table that we usually let them jump off in the nursery. The other teacher and I told him not to jump, that it was too high. She had taken him off, but as she turned her back, he jumped again. His toe caught the edge and instead of landing on his feet, he landed on his head. He screamed and cried, and as the other teacher brought him over to me, he pulled away from her, doing weird things with his neck. Then he took a big gasp for air. Dizzy and struggling to get his bearings, his eyes rolled around in his head. I turned to my friend who had been in the hallway and had also seen his face as be was being brought to me. "He looked weird didn't he? Do you think I should take him somewhere? Go get Terry!" My words tumbled over one another and my pitch got more and more frantic. By the time Terry got there, looking equally frantic, unsure of why he was called to come to our aid, I was over my initial shock and fear, and he no longer looked like he was having a seizure, which is what I had thought might be happening. I took him into the nursery and sat him on my lap and gave him his sippy cup. It took a long time for him to stop crying, but after he did and drank his juice, he hopped up and wanted to go back to the preschool room and play.
"I know. He was right with me, and then when I turned around to leave, he wasn't anymore. He shouldn't just walk away. He scared me!"
"I know. Can I tell you something? It has happened to most moms. It's happened to me. You have to be very careful, because if you turn your back for a minute, a little child can walk away."
"It has? It's happened to you before? When I was little?"
"Yes, one time I was at a children's museum, standing by the doorway to the room you were exploring. I wanted to move on and looked for you, and you were gone. I was very worried. I looked and looked. Then I discovered that there was a tunnel through the wall going into the next room and that's where you were. I was very relieved, but I knew that I had to be more careful watching you."
"I was really scared."
"I know. He needs to learn not to walk off, but you have to remember that you are watching him, and hold his hand if you are looking at something."
A child's memory is short. The memory of how he looked as he was disoriented after the fall stayed with me for a couple of days. The thankfulness that he was okay hasn't left me either. I have a feeling that if Kyle is in Amanda's care again, I will have to remind her what happens when she doesn't watch him closely. Hopefully the memory of that fear she felt will remind her how easy it is for things to go wrong.
It has always been said that motherlove is one of the great forces of the world. I think that motherfear is another, perhaps equally great and less manageable. Hopefully the memory of the fear will remind me how easy it is for things to go wrong, but how thankful I am when things are going right.