I Really Want to Talk About My Big Parenting Fear

We've decided on kids, but I'm still scared as hell


I always thought that when the time came to have kids, Michael would end up dragging me into action kicking and screaming. Because while I’ve always wanted kids, I also assumed I’d never be ready. So you can imagine my surprise when, one drunken Christmas a few years ago, I finally admitted to myself (and Michael) that I really, really, really wanted kids. Like, now. It’s been a strange, almost freeing two years since then, reconciling the fact that I’m emotionally ready for kids, but giving ourselves space to clear out some room in our lives for them. But now we’re almost there, and it’s starting to feel very… imminent.

I generally avoid parenting advice online, because most of it makes me want to hide in a small dark space and never come out. But every once in awhile I’ll venture into the unknown and read an upbeat article about why being a parent is great. Inevitably, they all head in the same direction: being a parent is so amazing, it’s like your heart imploding in on itself. You never knew you had the capacity for such love. It devours you whole.

And that makes me want to run for the hills. Because babies? I can handle babies. Sleeplessness? I’ve done that. Work? Not worried. But an all-consuming love, the likes of which I’ve never known? That scares the shit out of me. Here are a few other things that scare the shit out of me:

  • Children ruining my marriage
  • Children dying
  • One of us dying and leaving the other with a young child
  • Me loving a child more than I love my husband
  • My husband loving our child more than he loves me
  • Having our world turned upside down so hard it can’t be turned right-side up again
  • Any kind of all-consuming love that threatens to explode my heart

Y’all, I don’t want my heart to implode on itself.

I remember a similar (if not slightly less intense) anxiety when I was a teenager and got my first job. I had an epic meltdown in front of my mother, not because I was afraid of work, but because growing up seemed like it was all happening very fast and a job felt like the final nail in that coffin. It would tip the scales in a way that couldn’t be undone. And for me, having kids feels similar.

But here’s the thing: we’re doing it anyway. It’s decided. At some point we’re just going to pull the trigger (or the goalie, as it were). Whether by childbirth or adoption or fostering or kidnapping, there will be no turning back. And while there’s a lot of talk on these pages about kids or no kids, I want to talk about what happens when the answer is yes, but with a fair amount of anxiety behind it.

So let’s talk. If you’re a parent, did you go through the same pre-jump panic I’m going through? Were any of your fears realized? Can you please explain this heart-bursting thing to me in a way that doesn’t make me feel claustrophobic? And if you’re thinking about kids, what are your fears and anxieties? Does anyone else find articles about the joys of parenting more stressful than ones about how hard it is to raise kids? It’s the final countdown and I am looking for comfort here.

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