I worry about passing my fears onto my son. I want him to inherit my love of books and art, not my coulrophobia, which is a fancy term for fear of clowns.
Still, I know if I act afraid of something Ethan may come to fear it too, and it pains me to say some things really freak me out.
I am easily startled. I hate frogs because, well, I don't trust anything that can go from floor to face in a split second. And the aforementioned clowns? Don't get me started on those face-painted circus demons. I once made my husband's arm bleed trying to escape a Pennywise mob at Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream.
Then there are the big fears, the ones we all battle on some level. I fear growing old and my body failing. I fear the ugliness in the world and my inability to stop it. I fear making mistakes.
I know Ethan will ponder life's difficult questions one day. I want to set a good example and not let the daily what-ifs overwhelm me. I want to remember to let go and let God.
I wish becoming a parent meant instantly outgrowing my neurosis, but something tells me it isn't that easy. I can not hide my anxieties forever. I am only human.
So, if one day a toad crosses my path and I scream in front of Ethan, my plan is to laugh it off. I will tell him mommy is silly, that frogs will not hurt him and clowns are just people in ghastly makeup.
And when the serious questions arise, I will tell him the truth: Life is scary sometimes.
It is how we handle it that makes the difference.
Sarah Whitman is a married mother of an infant (soon to be a toddler) who lives in Land O'Lakes.