Fear – a permanent part of every parent’s life.
Of course, that main fear, that overriding fear, that fear that can knot your stomach like a cats-cradle is that something will happen to your kids. You enrol them in swimming lessons because you fear them drowning, you hold their hand when crossing the road because you fear them being hit by a car, you give them a big kiss and cuddle, not long after having to tell them off doing something naughty, because you fear that they will feel you don’t love them.
But there is another fear, a fear that you seldom think of but is there all the same, you fear not being able to be there for them.
Without going into details that I don’t consider I have the right to share with the wider public, the clan I come from has experienced extreme heartache this century. We have had parents lose their child – the most horrific thing that I can ever imagine happening to anyone – and conversely we have had young children lose a parent. Both scenarios have caused more heartache and loss than I could ever put into words here.
It is the second scenario that right now sits at the forefront of my mind, and is causing a level of fear I have seldom encountered in my life.
Once I became a parent, my life became secondary to that of my son and a few years later also my daughter. I exist and my purpose on this planet is to care for, look after and love my children. That’s my job and to me there is nothing else that comes close to being as important. To this end there are a lot of things I don’t do that I either used to and don’t anymore, or had never done and now never will. I don’t get blind drunk or take drugs because that would impair my ability to care for my kids. I don’t do dangerous things that might result in me going to hospital or stupid things that might result in me going to jail as that means I won’t be at home to look after my little ones. I look after myself primarily so I can look after them. I figure I have no right to put myself in a scenario that would take me away from them.
Of course, now I have a skydiving ticket. It’s for this Sunday.
A gift from my wife for my 40th birthday. I can’t blame her as when I was in my twenties I really wanted to go skydiving and have always professed it’s still on my ‘to do before I die’ list. But the timing really does suck. 10 years ago I would have literally leaped at the opportunity and 20 years from now, when my kids are grown up, it would breathe some life into the old duffer I had become. But right now, as the Househusband who spends all his days looking after his two kids, all I can think of is ‘What’s gonna happen to my kids if something goes wrong?’
Yes, I’m aware I might be coming across a bit of a coward here who is just making excuses but it’s not really that. Yes I’ve developed a problem of heights that I didn’t have when young and that’s not helping my anxiety much. But then I’ve Bungy Jumped and gone on helicopter rides and stood on the edge of cliffs so I can deal with it. And yes, I’ve never liked the idea of death much, as an Atheist I don’t believe in an afterlife so when you go that’s it. But as much as I don’t want to experience it, I’ve never massively feared death and would lay down my life to protect my family without a single moment’s hesitation. I will say that the fact there were 5 skydiving deaths in Australia last year and two of them were at the exact venue I will be doing my dive at has given me a serious case of the willies though.
So then exactly why am I so scared about this Sunday? It’s the idea that if something goes wrong (and let’s face it – it does happen) that I’ll never see my kids again. I’ll be separated from them forever and they will have to grow up without their Dad. My beautiful children – my son who loves cricket and fishing and video games and Transformers won’t have his old man around to help him learn to ride his bike without the training wheels, how to operate the pedals on a manual vehicle, how to stand up to bullies and be a good man. My daughter, who has a giant mass of near-untameable blond curls which stand out from her head like the afro of an angel, she will no longer have a Dad to teach her about animals, take her for piggy-back rides and later threaten any boys that get interested in her when she gets older. Yes they will still have their mother and could not ask for a better one, but they will have lost their other parent, their Dad who makes their lunches and cooks their dinners and gives them neck-rides and tickle fights and a million kisses and cuddles each day.
So more than heights, more than actual death, more than anything else the idea that I won’t be there for my kids anymore has gotten me filled with fear. There are times I feel almost paralyzed by it, or like I will break into tears. This past week I’ve had trouble sleeping, I’ve been moody and snappish and morose. After doing so well with cigarettes for so long I’ve been smoking a pack a day, which is really stupid as that is one thing that will guarantee your kids lose you sooner rather than later. I’ve been drinking more than a few beers each evening to try and knock me out come bedtime. Given my attitude, my wife is probably wishing she had given me an experience that wouldn’t cause such stress – a night in a 5-star hotel with a steak as big as my head, some ancient scotch & a large cigar followed by a night of passion would certainly have been a nice way to welcome me into my fourth decade without the prospect of becoming the dimensions of an oversized pancake. Save the skydiving for when my kids don’t need me anymore.
Of course our children are unaware of what is going to happen on Sunday, I don’t want to worry them. They probably think things are great right now as I’ve been taking lots of extra time to play with them, been giving them little treats each day and, even moreso than usual, just picking them up at random times to shower them in kisses and warm hugs and tell them how much I love them. Because deep in my heart I know there is the possibility, however unlikely, that these are my final chances. After all, all it takes is one strap to break or chute to tear and dear old Dad is a splat on the ground. Of course I could just not do it, I have that option. But what can I say, as well as being a Househusband I’m also an idiot male that never backs down from a challenge and never chickens out. I just hope that male pride doesn’t kill me. Thank Primus that a mate has decided to do it with me; Brendan – I’ll do my best to not hold your hand on the flight up but I’m not making any promises.
So what do I do in these last few days before the jump? Well I guess I just gut it out and try to keep the paranoia under control. It doesn’t help to have a very active imagination and I’m even making my wife sign a form I wrote acknowledging my wish for assisted suicide if I end up in a permanent coma or am permanently paralyzed and can never move again (a horrific fate worse than death for someone as active as me – every moment would be hell). But I need to remember that hundreds of these jumps happen all the time and that resulting deaths are few and far between. Even moreso I need to remember that I am Big Angry Trev and I will kick skydiving’s arse!
And above all, I just need to keep lavishing the love on my two kids, so that if something does happen that’s what they remember of me – a Dad who loved them with every fiber of his being and always will.
Got anything to say about the above? Pop it in the comments section below.
Edit: Just thought I’d pop this in. It’s the day after writing this blog and I am feeling soooo much better. Writing the above was very cathartic, really helped me vent my paranoia and thus work through it to get past it. I’m feeling ready and raring for the jump – watch this site for the upcoming video soon!
Random Rant: It’s valid for you to feel stressed
Ask Trev: What is the purpose of meaning?
Video: Big Angry Trev Bungy Jumps!