29 April 2010

Facing That Worst Fear as a Mom

Bit of a serious post today folks... before you read, just know everything is fine.

I spent part of last weekend worried that someone had been 'interfering' with K. My worry stemmed from two incidences, but when my mom guilt brain put them together, I no longer saw coincidence, I started to see my worst fear. That some how, some way, while he was away from from me, someone had hurt my son.

The first thing was that K started to fight diaper changes. His reaction was beyond the usual "I don't want to stop playing Momma." This was real tears, real fear of something and a serious physical reaction to being put on his back, having his diaper taken off etc.

The second was a weird reaction to a man in a restaurant. We were out for dinner and when this man, the owner, approached the first time K freaked out. He hid his face in my lap and said, "I'm scared. I'm worried. I go outside." He stayed cuddled up to me for almost half an hour.

Maybe its me, maybe its mom guilt, maybe I watch too much news, maybe, maybe, maybe... but the thoughts in my head immediately ran to all of the horrible child abuse/child sexual abuse stories out there. I panicked and tried to work out, with K's dad, any scenario where K could have come into contact with a predator. I wasn't worried about the man we'd encountered, there was no way K had encountered him before. But, I wracked my brain for other men, or women, who were new additions to our life. I called Dear A, expressed my concern and asked her if she had noticed anything different. K's dad and I tried asking K why he was "scared" and tried talking him through who 'was allowed' to change his diaper. Basically, I spent most of the next few days in a state of panic.

The reason I'm not so panicked anymore is because I faced my fear and found not one iota of proof of anything to worry about. I got there by talking about it.

After talking to Dear A, I realized that K's diaper reaction had actually started before the weekend, and had coincided with his eczema flare up. Turns out it was hurting his scabs when we raised his legs. I also talked to a few mom friends and they shared that around this age their boys had also ramped up their usual dislike for diaper changes, precipitating a switch to Pull Ups.

Finally, K's dad and I realized that K had just learned the words "scared" and "worried" and had noticed the reaction they got out of us. He'd also started being "scared" and "worried" about eating dinner, getting in his car seat etc.

Crisis averted. For now. Geez this parent thing is tough. Especially when you aren't with your kid for a good 40 hours of the week.

Anyway, I'm glad I talked about my fears. And, I encourage you to do the same. Talk to your kid, no matter how young, about who can help them with private tasks and who can't etc. Talk to your caregiver if you have any concerns, and lay out the ground rules for interaction between your kids and people you don't know. As a parent who essentially shares custody of her child with a caregiver, I think its an important subject to tackle. If you're like me, you have enough working mom guilt. Don't let anything happen just because you were embarrassed to talk.

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