Photo by Kristy Lee Photography
The moment I reach for my keys or pick up my handbag she starts to scream. This simple reaction might be tolerable if it was a rare reaction. However, it is daily. Actually twice daily, even three times a day. Nope indeed more than four times a day.
She has only known homes that edge onto main roads. Maybe it has to do with our budget or our penchant for danger, but we always seem to choose homes on busy intersections.
The fear began in the season that my front door opened onto a driveway and a busy seaside road. With a newborn and a wild toddler, every time we walked out the front door I re-enforced the danger we were entering. She has never known a day in her life that I have not warned, carried her hand tightly or asked that they look left and right before they walk to our car.
I think it was first birthed in my own heart because I watched a story unfold over on Instagram where a beautiful little red-haired boy died suddenly in an accident on the road. I remember scrolling his story repetitively, with tears dripping off my face. Coming to the summation that I could never survive the horror of a childhood accident. Fear gripped my heart, and I transferred my pain.
Every carpark, each walk towards our car, the loading and unloading of my vehicle were fraught with fear. The fear that strangled my heart jumped into my little shadow hearts. Every concern I face, they journey as well. I now face the difficulty of unravelling the fear that grips onto her little heart.
“Come on kids let’s go to the car” I shout into the corridor void in our house. I can hear her from any location in our abode. She starts to scream, she begins to cry, and my empathy is left impatient, with a roll of my eyes and tiredness in my heart.
“Do not leave me” she screams, then she pants “Please carry me,” she whispers. “I cannot go to the car alone.” My daughter does not have a fear of leaving or arriving. She is okay when I say goodbye and walk off to my day of work. She has confidently waved as I have travelled away overseas. However, she cannot handle the fear of walking five steps to our car alone. Every time we stop she screams, each time we walk her brother into school, (like every day) she cries, and I am not sure how much more of it I can take.
The walk of empathy in this season of my life is even more present, because I have caused this fear. My fear transferred and it is now my responsibility to unravel this knot and create a new rhythm of the carriage in my little girl’s life so that it doesn’t rise to overtake her heart and allow anxiety to set in.
Fear is irrational and to extend empathy to those who are crippled by its hold is an exercise in patience.
How can we extend empathy when we are tired of the everydayness of being human?
I am learning when I remind myself of my internal fears. I am seeing that when I slow and hold them close, remembering that each time that I am present, it is a great privilege of my day. Breathing in deep the vulnerability of the moment and telling myself she will be skipping off to school with the season swiftly over.
The empathy that I extend for her.
The empathy that I post in my heart as a reminder to myself.
Remembering how far we have come and how long we still have to travel. With moments of pause and intention, it is my goal to extend care and caution to unravel this knot that frustrates me.
And if I was truly honest with myself and her, it is a fear that I created anyway. I didn’t mean too. I just knew no other way. Soon I will want to hold her hand and carry her little heart closely, but she will be too independent and too cool to hold me close. So for today I remind myself that empathy goes both ways and fear can be unravelled. It just takes time.
Slow your heart dear Mumma, tomorrow is another day, and together we can do this.