I love those moments when I feel understood. Because so often, I feel like I'm not.
I know people see our reasoning behind a lot of our actions. Speaking of - our protectiveness. The fact that a "date night" for Jeremy and myself has never entailed leaving Collen overnight. We keep it to a maximum of 4 hours away. And that's not some "rule" of ours. It's just because we can't stand being away from him.
Sometimes I get paranoid about my own paranoia. I feel like people look at me as if I'm constantly hovering over Collen....wanting to keep him in a bubble of protection....so afraid that something is going to happen.
And most of the time, Yes...I am afraid. I talked with Jeremy about this the other night, and I was so relieved to learn he feels the exact same way. Here is where it all stems from:
I took Collen out to school the other day because I needed to pick up a few things. One of my dear, sweet friends - the lady who doubles as my momma at the school - walked me down to open my classroom for me. We were just chit-chatting, and she was going on about Collen and how friendly he is. Then she said, "I bet you are so protective of him." And the next words out of her mouth were, "How old would have Ayden have been?" She had made the connection. She "got it." She realizes the why behind my protectiveness. Because I just can't do it again. And I can in some way prevent it....or at least try...then that's what I'm going to do.
Now, I'm no idiot. I know that something could easily happen to Collen under my watch...Jeremy's watch. However, it's just that assurance (hope) that if he is with us, he's safe. Because we know we will watch him and never take an eye off him. Not that he isn't safe with anyone else. We trust him with others, but really....if you're a parent, I know you feel the same way. In your mind, your child is safest when he/she is with you.
I know people look at me and think, "She needs to give herself a break." "Just let him go." "You can't protect him 100% of the time."
And my response is: "When you've walked away from a healthy, smiling, happy child fully intending to pick them up that afternoon only to have to walk away from their lifeless body in a hospital emergency room...wondering how you are going to survive the rest of your life....let alone the next breath you take....then come talk to me about how easy it should be for me to step away and not live every moment in a mode of protection over the living children I do have."
If I've learned one thing at all, I've learned how quickly it can all change....in the blink of an eye. Collen can be taken from me just as easily. Charlotte could be taken as well. This is the reason we haven't left Collen since he's been born. This is the reason I spent every second with him for the first year of his life. This is the reason he was on an apnea monitor and movement monitor and slept in our room for the first year of his life. This is why - much to their grandparents' dismay - it will be a long time before we put them in someone else's hands for an extended period of time. This is why they do not ride in another person's car without one of us being with them. This is why when on vacation, when they go to bed....so does one of us....right there in the room with them. And also why on said vacation, we bring the movement monitor and video monitor along with us....just in case. This is why when they do spend time away from us, we leave very detailed instructions and check in often...just in case. This is why I may appear to be on edge most of the time or can't have a full conversation with someone when our children our out running around an open, outdoor area because my child is the one who runs off and I have to see him at every moment to know he's okay (and that's how most parents are, I've learned....which makes me feel less crazy).
I admit, this probably seems extreme. I know it isn't good for me to be fearful. I know that God doesn't want me to fearful. I know that He wants me to trust Him, and I'm trying. But I'm also going to do everything in my power to make sure my kids are protected as well. Everything I can do to make sure I don't lose another one. I realize that's really out of my control. Believe me....I completely understand that I can't keep them alive. That isn't up to me. But....I can attempt to live without regret, and if I do what keeps me sane....which is always knowing where they are...being with them as much as possible...doing everything I can to ensure their safety....then that's what I'm going to do.
I'm not in any way saying our way is better than anyone else's. Believe me - I wish I could be more relaxed sometimes. I wish I could let go a little bit and trust more. I hate thinking that aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends might feel like we don't trust them. It's not that at all. We don't trust circumstances. We don't trust the "what ifs." I was glad to learn that Jeremy also feels this way. He put words to what I had been searching for when he said, "Because of what we've experienced, our vision has changed. When he's out in the yard running around, playing, having a good time....yes, we enjoy that, but our vision has also become - "what if he runs to the road? what if we look away for a second as he's gone? what if a neighboring dog comes from out of nowhere and attacks him?" We try to be prepared for anything that could possibly happen because we don't want to be hit with it again.
In talking with other parents who have lost children...and even those who haven't...I've learned that this is normal. So, I know I'm not a crazy, helicopter mom. It was just nice to have a conversation with someone who...3 years later...completely understands the why behind my protectiveness and even expects me to be that way. :)