By Lauren Gonzalez
I meet with a group of gals every Thursday for a book club, and sometimes we get a little off-topic. This past Thursday, we ran aground a bit when the topic of fear came up, particularly in the context of parenting, and especially in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando. It’s true, there is an unending list of things to fear when you have children. There are the physical things (sex offenders, car crashes, illness), the social things (bullying, peer pressure, the general group-think that leads to poor decision making), and myriad other detrimental challenges our kids might encounter.
As a female, the concept of fear and feeling fearful is not new. It means something entirely different to me than it does to my male counterparts. I am more easily overpowered and coerced. I will have to teach my daughter, more so than my son, how to protect herself in proactive ways, and to remain constantly vigilant over her environment. I struggle often with how I might instill in her a necessary watchfulness, without extinguishing her natural curiosity to explore the world freely as she wishes. It pains me greatly to imagine her beautifully adventurous spirit growing dim because of ever – lurking threats. This world is a wonderful place, but it’s also very wild and dangerous – this is something I want her to know, but not dwell on, nor craft her life around.
I understand that my children will feel afraid at points in their life, and I know that I will fear for them every single day. The challenge is to expand their vision to see the good and beautiful things that exist in the midst of the fearsome, and to focus on these things. Fear and pain are not the only forces at work in this world, and the only way to find any joy is to live freely, in spite of them.
For me, having children is one way of doing that. A dear friend of mine refuses to have children, insisting that it’s inhumane and selfish to force this painful, ugly world on an innocent human with no choice in the matter. I can understand her viewpoint, particularly when I see constant death and destruction in the news. I worry about the world my children will face when they are older. But to me, choosing to give life is the strongest way to make my stand against the ever-growing darkness. It is the ultimate act of defiance, one that says, “I will not accept this world as it is – I will bring into it something new, something beautiful,” or, more realistically, “I see the world for what it is – both the beauty, and the terror – and I will raise children that are brave enough to face both.”
We can’t let the fear win. Keep rocking it, mamas.
Lauren Elizabeth Gonzalez is a Missoula-based writer/ blogger, whose kids (both under the age of 3) provide ample inspiration for her short stories, social media posts and articles that highlight the challenges, joys and bare realities of motherhood. Drawing on her master’s degree and background in conflict and dispute resolution, Lauren is also working on a series of how-to guides that will enable parenting partners to build a stronger, more connected team dynamic. Find out more at www.LaurenTheFreeMom.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter for a daily peek inside the head of a nutty gal just free mommin’ it.