[28 February, 2015]

the weight of fear

My biggest impending-parenthood fear is something irrational, I realize, and something stemming from my own childhood. It may be a common fear even, but it's not about whether I will screw up my kid (I know I will make mistakes and I'm allowing for the possibility that our personalities may not mesh, and besides, a little therapy never hurt anyone) or the loss of my previously spontaneous independent life (I am a generally flexible person who has withstood many changes in her day and does not hold on to any one way to live life anymore). My biggest fear, though, is that my child won't love me.

It's a fear. Of course I understand that it could happen, but that terrifies me.

I am cautious about where this line of thinking could lead me. I grew up with someone who unconsciously and instinctually feared abandonment to the point of requiring me to comply with their wishes before they'd comply with mine (that's the definition of conditional love). But acknowledging the fear is the first step in understanding it and keeping it from screwing everything up in the future.

I know that ultimately it is not the kid's job to love the parent, but the parents' job to love their kid. I know that the child is an autonomous human being who in the end owes me nothing. I know that the definition of parenthood is me taking care of someone else's needs without asking for anything in return. And if my child decides that they don't love me, well, they must have the freedom to make that choice.

But I'm afraid that this fear will somehow keep me from bonding with my child in those crucial newborn stages. That I will interpret their cries and assertion of needs and later, their attempts to individuate, as a personal insult of rejection. I hope I won't become overly upset at the thanklessness of this job (if it does indeed prove thankless) to the point of putting undue pressure on my kid to provide me with something in return (the definition of role reversal and parentification). I hope I will share whatever burdens with my partner and get support. I hope I will be a good-enough mother.

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