I have been thinking about fear a lot lately. I am in the midst of this romantic relationship with a guy I really like and it has caused me to have a certain level of anxiety. Where is this going? Does he like me as much as I like him? Did a delay in his text message mean that he is no longer into me? I am trying to work through it.
So today the boys and I are getting ready to go to the beach. We are in the car, seat belts fastened. Jonah, my five-year-old, starts screaming.
“What? What?” I yell back. He is screaming so much and so loudly I can only assume he is being murdered.
“A bug! A bug on my whistle!” He cries. I bend into the car to see. My other son Cole points.
“There, Mommy.” He screams, too. “It’s right on your arm!” I look down and see a large brown bug, and I start to scream too. I am not screaming because I am in any real danger. I am screaming because they are screaming and I am pretty sure one of them was screaming about it being a spider.
“Ok, everyone out of the car!” I yell as I dance around, shaking my arms and legs and dragging Jonah out of his car seat. He is still screaming and crying and as soon as his feet hit the ground, he is running far away from the car. Cole is a bit braver and he is trying to help me locate it so he can kill it. He has already removed his flip flop and is poised to smack it to death.
“Ok, Mom. Get back. I will look for it,” he says. My brave protector.
I back up from the door and I see it. A large brown moth is clinging to the side of the door.
“Oh,” I said softly. “It’s just a moth.”
“A moth?” Cole says as he leans in. “Where?” I point to the side of the door and I scoop the moth up with one hand and push it outside. It flies away.
“Jonah,” I yell. “It’s ok. It’s just a moth. You can come down now.” Jonah shows up a few minutes later with his blanket clutched in his hands and his eyes red and teary.
“What was it, Mommy? A spider?”
“No, baby, it was just a moth.” This information does not seem to make him feel any better.
“Did you kill it?” He asked pushing his hand against his mouth.
“No, we didn’t kill it. It was more afraid of us than we are of him.” He didn’t seem to agree, but he climbed into the car anyway and let me put his seat belt on.
“How do you know, Mommy?”
“How do I know what, Jonah?”
“If the moth was more afraid of us…I was pretty afraid.”
I wanted to tell him that we don’t really know. Maybe it’s just something we tell ourselves so that we won’t be as afraid the next time. Perhaps it’s easier to digest than the possibility that the moth really didn’t give a shit either way and we were running around and screaming like a serial killer had just entered our midst. The idea that our feeling of safety was so disrupted by a small bug landing on our laps is more laughable than anything. It makes me realize that much of the fear I have felt over the last few months is being created by something that is tiny and more afraid of me than I am of it. Perhaps it is faith in the idea that my fear is predicated on what I imagine it is as opposed to what it really is. And maybe this is what is causing the problem.
I can only assume he won’t be able to understand much of this, so I just smile at him and say that big moth had a look of terror on his face like he wouldn’t believe as I scooted it out of the car. Cole gave me a face that said, “Mom” as a way of showing me that he knows I am total bullshit, but Jonah just nods.
And the danger is averted. Once again peace is restored and our fear subsides. If only it could always be this easy…