I was going to type out a list of my fears this morning. Not sure why that seemed like a good idea, except that I've been noticing that what really gets the chattering monkeys worked up is fear, and they've been really loud the last 24 hours. But as I started on the list, there is really only one that comes easily to mind right now:

Something terrible and preventable and/or perceived as preventable (particularly by me) happening to my daughters.

I want for the one reason this is frightening to be that I'm a good mother concerned for their well-being. But there other reasons behind that one. I don't want to fail at this one most important thing. I don't want to fail them, obviously -- both because I want them to thrive and because I don't want them to resent me. I also don't want to fail myself and live in the hell of endless self-recrimination. And, I don't want to be perceived as a failure by others. It's not always pretty, the truth. I feel shame about it.

There's a 12 Step slogan about fear -- that it stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. And in this case, I think it applies. It is a lie of my mind to believe I would ever do anything less than my absolute utmost to prevent anything terrible happening to my daughters that I could prevent. And, what's more, I would, I know, do it instinctually, from the very best of motivations: love. The fear that anything terrible that might happen to them might not be prevented by me is dependent on the erroneous assumption that I have the control to prevent terrible things. I don't. I may even be part of the process, make a decision in a chain of events, that leads to something terrible -- but I do not have perfect foreknowledge of how everything I do will turn out. I would never choose to cause something terrible to happen. And yet, terrible things might happen -- terrible things that I may even be able to find some culpability in, because I am their mother, involved in nearly every aspect of their lives, especially right now.

It is a difficult thing to live in a world where terrible things happen. But they do. I am inoculated from so many that I forget that this is just how life is, and I do not prepare my mind and my heart in some regular practice for their eventuality. I perceive them as something that can be kept at bay because they are kept at bay by factors largely outside my control, like my nationality, my socio-economic status, the language I speak, my skin color, my education and, especially, the ways the society I live in perceives the meaning of those things. But none of these things alter the ultimate truth of this life... that we will all experience terror and pain as well as awe and beauty.

The same person who told me that I am not interesting to her because I am a stay-at-home mother, also told me that "humility" means having the strength of character to suffer without resentment. And the more I think about this, the more I see its truth. Who am I to think that I should not suffer? Why go about blaming others, myself, the world, the circumstances, God for the fact of my suffering? Aren't I human? Is there any other choice for human beings but to suffer on occasion? Why should it surprise me when I do? Why should I hold my arms out straight against that inevitability as though I can keep it at bay? Only pride would tell me that I am different from the absolutely every other human being who will have to surrender to it. It bends us, it breaks us, and if we're lucky, it breaks us open, so that the beauty of life can penetrate that much more deeply.

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