Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Risky Business

I am not a risk taker. I have never zipped around the curves of a roller coaster. Never bungee-jumped. Never had a one-night-stand. To be blunt, I am a wimp. Terrified of heights, I don't even feel comfortable on kiddie-airplane rides. I scream while my children laugh with glee on most carnival amusements appropriate for their minuscule heights. To my credit, I did climb Mt. Washington, in a car, under peer pressure. Definitely not something I am about to repeat.

However, seven years ago, I took the biggest risk of my life and then repeated this risk twice more. At the time, it didn't feel risky. It filled a void in my life and made me happier than I had ever known possible. It has brought a tremendous amount of joy and has made me a completely different person than I was before it. I had children.

As I grow with these three little people my husband and I created, I realize just how big a risk this was. Much larger than sky diving; much larger than any fear I have imagined. Most days, I go about the daily tasks, pleasures and stresses of life. I observe my children and am in awe at the miracles they are. We play. We read. We laugh, cry, yell. It is all very ordinary. But then some days, it hits me...what if? What if anything ever happened to them? This what if that sneaks into my head with it's sharp claws and very loud voice, paralyzes me. Just the thought of losing one of these precious lives I bear witness to each day and I can't go on with spreading the peanut butter and jelly. Good thing this what if usually creeps in late at night while I am trying to fall asleep. I can then accost my husband with my worries. Do you think Alex looked ok tonight? Emma seems cranky because she is teething, right? It isn't anything else? Sam didn't eat again tonight. Do you think he has something wrong with his stomach, or is he just trying to get out of dinner?

We all do this, I know. But every now and then, I find myself going that extra step and thinking, should I really have taken the biggest risk possible? Before I had Alex, I had no idea the depth of love I would feel. And as the years have gone on and we have had two more children, that love has grown exponentially. And then it hits me, what if I lost one? Why did I take the biggest risk of my life, not knowing just how risky it was?
Unfortunately, I am not a stranger to child loss. When I first met my husband in college, my one and a half year old nephew Michael was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. I witnessed my sister's nine month battle and her recovery from the greatest loss in her life. This was hard for all of us, but I will never even pretend to imagine what it was like for her. And yet, she has gone on. She is the strongest person I know and I marvel at the way she keeps Michael's memory alive and keeps giving to everyone she cares about. I don't know how she does it.

I have seen several peers lose older children in sudden circumstances. These fellow parents amaze me. They possess a strength I don't know that I have. I don't think that I could do it but I am sure they never thought they could either.

Don't get me wrong, if given the choice I would always choose to have them. They provide us with so much. They change us for the better. They are by far the best events that ever happened to us. But sometimes, the thought of the risks we have taken and must live with is hard to bear.


rxBambi said...

Hi Nicole, thanks for stopping by my blog. I can totally understand where your fear comes from. My kids are teenagers and although they sometimes make me want to bash my head against a brick wall, I could not imagine life without them. I think before you have kids you never understand unconditional love. One you have them it's a non-issue, your kids will always be a part of you.
I used to be a risk taker (talking 20 yrs ago here) but have long since settled down.

Looking forward to reading more!

Rachel said...

Nicole, you're exactly right. Having children is a HUGE risk but you don't realize it when you make the decision because you have no idea how much love is possible until you have them.

I have to admit to occasionally becoming momentarily overwhelmed by anxiety just thinking of all the horrible things that could happen to any one of them.

What a great post!

Comedy Goddess said...

You have beautiful healthy and happy children. Always focus on that.

And thanks for following my blog! I'm always glad to meet new bloggers! ~ Elise