The Greatest Fear

There was an electrical outage at my office on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning so I worked from home on Wednesday. It was wonderful: it was blissfully quiet, I could play music, I could work in my sweatpants, and I didn’t have to interact with anyone except through instant messaging. I was able to sit at the dining room table and look out the window and enjoy the sunlight, glad to not be stuck in my windowless office. It was a great day and I couldn’t wait for my family to be home.

After five o’clock I began cooking our dinner meal while I waited for my husband and children to arrive. I waited. And waited. And waited. Then I heard sirens from police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks.

I am normally not a person to worry. I don’t often think the worst in most situations, but as six o’clock came and went my anxiety got the better of me. While dinner sat cooling, I began to have a panic attack. Think positively, calm down, I told myself. Don’t be silly.

I have many fears, like losing a parent, not being a good mother, or driving on icy roads, and I have phobias, like losing my teeth or being covered in spiders, but my greatest fear is losing my family.

Thoughts raced through my mind as I became more and more nervous. Should I call my husband? No, I thought, if he is driving he shouldn’t answer. Is he just late leaving work? Maybe they stopped to put fuel in the car. Has he spent a long time visiting when picking up the kids? Maybe if there was an accident they had to take a different route. Perhaps they stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I can’t go on without them. Please, don’t let anything have happened. So many possibilities made my pulse race and my head pound. I began to feel lightheaded. I busied myself with stirring food, setting the table, arranging and rearranging things.

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At last, at 6:30 p.m., I heard the garage door open and the car pull in. I breathed a sigh of relief and was able to calm down. When the children entered the kitchen I gave them extra long hugs until they tried to squirm and wiggle away. “Sorry,” my husband said, “I didn’t realize it was so late when I left work. I was in the middle of a project and lost track of time.”

I was so grateful that they were home safely that I ignored my desire to yell and tell my husband the hell I had gone through as I waited. Motherhood can be so damned scary sometimes, especially to those with anxiety, like me. I sent an extra grateful thank you out into the universe and gave everyone extra hugs and kisses that night.

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