Do you guys have irrational fears? Sure you do. Everyone has them. I guess the bigger question is Can you push through your fear when you need to? Yesterday I had a humbling experienced that proved to me that I. Can. Not.
I don't do bugs. Let me clarify that. I don't do gross bugs. This is an important distinction.
I am not afraid of wasps or bees or spiders. I can kill those without thinking. But the sight of a roach will take me all the way down to the fetal position. A few friends have seen this happen, because sadly I have seen my fair share of roaches in my home. Did you know that roaches love pine trees? Did you also know that I live on a street called Pine Valley. So I guess it's my fault. I chose to move into their sanctuary, but whatever, they all deserve to die. (I digress) (Also, I feel like I need to go take a shower with all this roach talk.)
So anyway, yesterday I discovered that I feel the same way about ticks that I do about roaches. (ok that's the last time I'm typing the R-word.)
I'm not an out-doors girl. I don't care to get dirty and therefore haven't had to deal with many (or any) ticks. Until yesterday.
It is church camp week for us. Amelia and Walt left for camp on Monday. The younger kids (Walt's age group) only camp for 2 days as a way to sort of ease them into the whole "Sleep Away Camp" thing. So he returned after 2 glorious days in the great outdoors and can't wait to do it again. I'm glad he loved it. I hope he will still love it after all of this.
Camping in the south means checking for ticks is regularly. For reasons already stated, checking for these pests is Steve's job. I'm just going to let that hang out there for a bit. I'm not blaming anyone...I am not petty or bitter.... I'm just stating the facts.
I sat on the couch yesterday morning reading my Bible listening to the kids play when I heard "Ew Gross!!! There is a bug on me that won't come off!!!" Awesome. I know what that means and my fight or flight instinct immediately kicks in. Spoiler Alert: My body always chooses flight. Always.
Then it hits me. I am the only responsible adult in the house. I have to deal with it. This is so not ideal.
I went to work and tried all the "home remedies" that I could find online.
Burn it with a match.
Smother it in Peppermint oil.
Pour Hand Sanitizer on it.
Cover it with clear finger nail polish.
Nothing worked. I texted at least 8 people asking for help. All of them said the only solution was to pull it out with tweezers. I wish I could say that I pulled myself together for the sake of my son and handled it all with grace and dignity. Um... That is not exactly how it went down. Let's just say, my son will probably be permanently scarred from this event and will always know that his mom could not get over her fear to help him in his time of need.
So I cried. He cried. It was a whole dumb tearful scene. Over a bug.
My friends were cheering me on texting things like "You can do this!" "We've all done it countless times." "It's no big deal." But it was a big deal to me. That's the thing about irrational fears. They are completely...well... irrational. I've been on the other side of this, telling a friend who is afraid of heights to "Just don't look down" or a friend afraid of being on stage to "Just picture them in their underwear." But clearly, logic doesn't doesn't work.
I have been thinking about this constantly and just feeling very weak and convicted on one hand and weak and closer to God on the other.
On the one, I hate that my child saw me in this light. I felt like such a failure as a parent. Completely helpless. My brain knew that this was not a big deal and all I had to do was suck it up and grab the tweezers, but my heart (and more importantly my body) failed me. The voices in my head were really letting me have it.
How many times have you encouraged your children to face their fears and be brave?
And now you are gonna just stand there looking like the biggest hypocrite?
Your kids will never trust you again, because you can't even touch a bug for them.
Just go ahead an buy yourself that t-shirt that says "Worst Mom Ever."
|I mean, it's actually a pretty cute shirt.|
But on the other hand, feeling so completely helpless as a parent brought a nice helping of much needed humility. I have to let my children see that sometimes even parents are scared. That we are powerless to our fears without God. Sure, I would rather my kids think I can do anything, but maybe it is better for them to see that I can't. Only God is THAT good.
All I have been able to think about since this "event" is how we are in such a similarly helpless parenting place with Walt at bedtime.
In the last few months he has been dealing with a ton of anxiety and fear about falling asleep at night. We pray about it, we talk about it, we sing about it, and we negotiate the heck out of it, but nothing seems to work. He will say..."I don't know why I'm scared, Mom. But I just can't stop worrying that I won't fall asleep." My husband and I just get angry and bothered by such a weird (and irrational...yep there it is) problem.
Is the nasty tick God's way of helping me extend grace to my worried little boy?
Did I need to be reminded of my own fear and weakness in order to be patient with his?
I know God works in mysterious ways, but really, God? This is not just mysterious, it's gross. Thanks for meeting me right where I am. Curled up on the floor in the fetal position crying about a bug.
I wish I could say that the end of the story was me conquering my fear and pulling that thing out like a boss. That would make for a good story. But actually, I stuck a band-aid on that thing and drove to my mom for help.
Yep, I loaded my kids in the van and drove 50 miles to Mississippi to someone I knew, without a doubt, was not afraid of silly little tick. Because my mom CAN do just about anything. Plus she grew up in the country and has seen her share of ticks. I can't help it if I'm a city girl who knows the beauty of delegation. Find an expert and out source the problem. There's a lesson in there too.
At the end of the day, the tick "event" was not my proudest parenting moment, but I learned a great lesson in humility and vulnerability. Hopefully my children learned something too, and not just that they can't trust their mom with their life. I would like to think if it were a life or death emergency, I could summon the courage. Let's just hope that isn't anytime soon.
And maybe, just maybe, I will one day thank God for that nasty blood sucking bug and for using it to teach me to be a more understanding mother. But let's be honest, that definitely won't be anytime soon.
My mom is letting the kids win in a game of chutes and ladders. Further proof that she is a nicer person than I am.