Leaning into the Fear: When It’s My Child

Sometimes things just creep up on you. You’re walking along, minding your own business….you think you have things mostly figured out in your life and then BAM! life smacks you right in the f*cking face before you know what hit you.

It seems when this happens, it’s not just one thing – it’s several things at once. It’s the old cliche “when it rains, it pours” situation that leaves us feeling completely perplexed, if not downright incompetent.

I’m not one to get overly-emotional about anything in my life. I don’t get overly excited when something goes my way and I don’t get overly sad or scared when things don’t go my way. At least not obviously so. I might lose sleep because I’m positively drowning in worry, but no one would know it to look at me (okay, sometimes my husband knows). I wear a veil of detached indifference everywhere I go. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done.

When I was a teenager and my friend got shot right in front of me, I held his head in my lap and gave him sips of the only fluid I had on hand – Pepsi. He told me how thirsty he was and inside, my mind and body were racked with worry that he was bleeding internally and was sure to die. Outside, I was the picture of calm detachment. I brushed his hair from his forehead and assured him that everything would be fine. Once the paramedics took him away, My knees literally buckled beneath me and I slid down the wall that I leaned against to hold me up.

adult alone anxious black and white

Sometimes we can crumble inside without anyone else becoming aware of it.

I’m not exactly proud to say that I’m really good at this and have been for most of my life. It’s a coping and survival thing.

The trouble is, I’m not super great at this when it involves my children and it seems that as I lean into all this vulnerability and faith stuff, I have become less and less able to veil how I’m feeling.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this.

I hate burdening others with my worries. I feel guilty for worrying when I know I should have faith and trust and hell, why not throw in some pixie dust for good measure. Mostly though, I don’t want to talk about my worries. I just want them to go the hell away and leave me in my middle-of-the-road sense of peace, where high emotions simply do not exist. Inside I convince myself that if I don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.

But it does exist and I’m human and I freaking worry.

Right now, I’m worried about my daughter, who has developed a motor tic. Actually, when I think of it, it’s not new. This particular tic is new, but she’s shown others in her seven years of life, including eye brow raising when she’s concentrating. I thought perhaps it was too much screen time, so we limited that. I’m not sure if it’s helped, because she now has an eye rolling tic. It worries me, as it would likely worry many parents. While I’ve read numerous medical studies and articles that tell me plainly that such tics are fairly common at this age and will usually go away on their own, I still have a running monologue of worry that goes something like this:

Am I being too critical? Oh my gosh, I’m pushing her too much…but I try hard to let her lead the way in her learning and her activities. She can quit any of the things she’s doing if she wants to and her father and I always tell her this. She seems happy enough and genuinely seems to enjoy her classes and activities. I’m a bad mother. What am I saying? It’s not about me at all and I need to focus on my child. Damn, I’m so self-centered. Could she have Tourette syndrome? God, I hope not.  Geez, I’m such an ass for thinking this way, when other parents and children are dealing with this every day. I should simply love her as she is, for all she is…I do and I always will…I just want her to be healthy and happy. I God, I pray, please let this the eye rolling stop and let her grow calm and confident and please keep those parents from looking at her with those terrible, questioning expressions as they did in her gymnastics class. Please, God, I pray this and I pray that no other adults inquire about whether or not she has a lazy eye, or “what’s going on with her?” Please God, don’t let this be Tourettes.

I pray the selfish prayers of loving mothers everywhere. Please God, not my child.

What the Professionals Say

Everything I’ve read says that most of us have tics at some point in our lives and that most of them occur before the age of eighteen, with most showing up around the age of 5-8 years old. My daughter is 7. I know it’s too early to worry, but I can’t help it. While I read and feel hopeful, I feel like I’m also preparing myself for the worst, so if it happens, I’m not taken off guard. This is how I approach everything in life. It sucks and it’s not really helpful at all.

From what I’ve read:

  1. Talking about tics can actually make them worse and I have been taking about them – with my husband, with my daughter, with the well-meaning, if LOUD gymnastics coach.
  2. Most subside or completely disappear within a couple of months, almost all are gone by adolescence.
  3. Stress and excitement can trigger them, but so can boredom and tiredness.
  4. ADHD and OCD can also come into play.
  5. Allergies can make them worse.
  6. Artificial food dyes can trigger them.
  7. Genetics play a role as well.

Feeling the Fear

If you’ve ever experienced worry regarding your child, then you know that all of this and none of this helps me feel better.

Mostly, I fear that she’ll be made fun of for it. I know how people can be. While little children are often kind and forth-coming, when they see someone with an obvious difference, older children and adults, in an effort to avoid their own discomfort, do things that can come off as cruel. They might point and whisper, blatantly make fun of the person, or even ostracize them.

I worry about that for my daughter as she ventures out to socialize more and take classes with other kids. She’s never been isolated from others, but lately, she’s been exposed to more situations that are new to her – all her own ideas, but still a lot of new, unfamiliar territory for her to experience. We started going to church so she could spend time with kids. She started taking art classes around the same time. We’ve been meeting up with a homeschool group for various fun activities as well, and now she’s taking gymnastics. She enjoys all of these things and always seems to look forward to each one, so I don’t feel like we’re pushing her to do any of them. That said, it’s a lot of change in a short period of time.

Perhaps this is also why so many children begin exhibiting motor tics in early grade school – it’s to cope with the many changes they experience in a short period of time.

New Focus

I’m trying to let go of expectations. I’m trying to recognize that this very well may be a temporary challenge for our family. Our daughter seems the least affected by all of it and it’s ironic, because she’s the only one truly experiencing it. I’m trying hard to trust and have faith – in God, in her pediatrician, and the eye doctor – with whom we’ve made appointments, and I’m also making the following changes:

  • Instead of praying not my child, I pray that God will help me to be the mother she needs.
  • We do not talk about the tic in front of her or anywhere near her and we have informed family to do the same.
  • We do not mention when we see the tic occur and again, we have informed family and friends to do the same.
  • I made an essential oil blend of Frankincense, Cedarwood, Lemon, Lavender, Balance, and Vetiver that I apply to her feet and up her spine each morning and night to 1. set the tone for the day and 2. end the day on a calm note.
  • We have reduced sugar and artificial colors, because she has always seemed affected by these and when she’s restless, the tics increase.
  • We’ve purchased two HEPA filters and I’ve begun deep-cleaning the house just in case it’s an allergy to our pets. We have also closed off the bedrooms so the cats can’t get in them.

I don’t know where all of this will lead and that scares me, but what I do know is this: worrying and obsessing will not make it go away and mentally isolating myself isn’t going to help me show up for my daughter. My job is to show up for my daughter.

I’m going to step through, into the fear, and trust that God has all of this under control. It’s all part of a plan and I’m going to choose to lean into that and have faith in that, because it feels a hell of a lot better than worrying and obsessing.


3 Comments on “Leaning into the Fear: When It’s My Child

  1. What’s your biggest fear about the situation? When I worry myself into a funk about something (or, more often, someone close to me) I try to go with the fear to its logical conclusion. That helps me to see whether my anxiety is something I can do something about in the real world or whether it just exists to torture me in my own internal monologue and therefore needs to be dealt with differently. I too am great in a crisis. Then later …. anxiety over what might have been. Flip side of the same coin I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I ultimately did. I realized I was afraid that it might be Tourette’s and then I was like, “Well, what if it is?” That’s when I was able to just let go of the worry, because if it turns out to be that, well, worrying helps nothing. ☺️


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