I don’t fear much, but I am petrified of my mother. It’s not a one-dimensional kind of fear; she’s not my demon, she’s my mum. I fear for her safety as much as I do for my own.
My mother is the type to flip the bird at any obstacle and then climb over it with ease. Be it her working career or chainsaw-pruning our backyard mango tree, I have seen her conquer things she rightfully shouldn’t be doing, especially in thongs.
For the past year she’s been battling lupus and shingles and refuses to slow down. Despite her constant pain, I still catch her dangling out of attics and hauling aluminium sheets. Though I chase her around like a pedantic nanny for the sake of her health, I still can’t help but smile that she’s still the woman I know to be my mum.
Even though I’m scared that one day her ambitious ventures might get the better of her, that’s nothing compared to the fear I have of walking in and finding her beaten by her illness and bored in bed.
As a teenager, one of my favourite movies was ‘Parenthood’ starring Steve Martin. Now a parent of 13+ years, its foreboding catchphrase, ‘It could happen to you,’ has taken on a whole new meaning.
Since becoming a parent, I have become all too familiar with the sensation of having my heart in my throat. Whether witnessing my youngest bounce (fall) down a flight of stairs as a toddler, or watching my eldest sprint towards the try-line with the opposition hot on his heels, on countless occasions I have stood stock-still, immobilised by apprehension, anticipation and/or downright fear; simultaneously hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
I thought I suffered from self-doubt pre-parenthood. How naïve I was. From the moment I welcomed our firstborn into the world, Decidophobia (the fear of making the wrong decision) has been a constant companion. The unanswerable question, ‘Am I a good parent?’ clouds every choice and every decision, and I can only hope against hope that I’m getting it right.
Exhilarating and hair-raising in equal parts, parenthood is far scarier than I ever could have anticipated, however I am so, so glad that it did happen to me.