There are not many times when I wish I was a little kid again. I am enjoying “emerging adulthood” as they call people my age. The independence, the self-sufficiency, the in-between state where you get to be on your own but don’t have too many responsibilities just yet. The only time I tend to wish for childhood is when I am assigned my “college homework.” I miss elementary school homework more than you know.
But today I thought of you and I realized that there is another time when I wish I was little. It’s when I’m scared.
You are a fearless little guy. You run head first into everything: new experiences, new places, new things. You love all things new – they’re exciting to you. There is nothing scary to my Little Man because you’re just ready to take it all on. Right now, that is scary to me because there are certain things you should be afraid of, like climbing on top of counters or jumping in swimming pools. Those things could actually hurt you (since you don’t know how to properly balance or swim yet) and I really would rather you be afraid of those sometimes.
But as I thought of you and your fearlessness today, I realized I wished I was like that too. I wish I was just like my little boy. Running head first, throwing caution to wind, taking a chance, and all of the other clichés that basically say, “Don’t be afraid to jump.”
You see, as you get older and you learn and experience more things, sometimes you become afraid. Afraid of getting hurt, afraid of being sad, afraid of losing things. In that blissful period of childhood that you are experiencing now, none of those things matter. Pain is temporary, sadness is curable and the things you lose are all but forgotten after a few days. But us adults don’t tend to see things that way. As we get older, we learn that we are fragile, breakable. And the pain may be temporary, but even so, we’re afraid of being left with the memory of it.
You are different. I don’t see a child-like fearlessness in you – you know, the kind that will fade as you get older. I see in you the kind of bravery that will persevere throughout your life. You are a “go for it” kind of kid, and I’m so proud of you for it. I would love to believe that you got that from me, and maybe you did, but I have come to the startling conclusion that I get scared sometimes too. I learned a few years ago that I was not, in fact, as invincible as I believed myself to be. Your mommy dearest has a heart that breaks, as it turns out. Saying it that way sounds so “wishy-washy” to me, so I kind of hate admitting it. But being scared isn’t anything I ever want you to be ashamed of, so I will admit it to you. If there’s one thing I don’t like to be, it’s a hypocrite.
So here’s the truth: sometimes, I get scared. I get scared of failing. I get scared of letting people down. I get scared of letting people in. I get scared of broken hearts, having had one before. And though I have learned there are things to be scared of, I have also learned that maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. I once heard that being afraid means you have something or someone to lose, and that can be worth a lot more than the fear itself. And as you may have been able to tell, I survived. I braved the storm. I toughed it out, and though I have changed, I’m better for all of it.
And now, when I get scared, I think of you. I think of my beautiful baby boy and all of the happiness you’ve brought me. I think of The B’s who would let me cry on their shoulders anytime my fears proved correct. I think of your adorable laugh and how you call me Nay-Nay and I find that I’m a little less afraid. You inspire me. After all of my tough-talk, here I sit, admiring my two-year-old for his moxy. It’s one of the many, many ways you make my life better. Hopefully one day we’ll come full circle – your youthful fearlessness will inspire my grown-up fearlessness, so when you grow up and start to doubt, I will be there to hold your hand and remind you of the brave boy you’ve always been. I owe you one, after all :)