I have always been a bit of a worry wort. The other day, for example, I saw a man walking his dog without a leash and immediately felt sick. What if the dog took off into the street and got hit by a car? Or suddenly was attacked by a bigger dog? The owner, I’m sure, would tell me to relax, but even a well trained dog can get startled or run into some bad luck. This is why I make sure Rigby — an admittedly not so perfectly trained dog — always wears a leash in public no matter how safe her surroundings may seem. This amuses Heather, but I don’t care. I don’t want anything to happen to my pup.
I was the same way with Madeline. Often I carried her around in a baby bjorn which was something she loved because it gave her the opportunity to see the world from a higher perspective. No matter how secure she may have seemed in the bjorn, however, I always kept one hand on the front of it. I was worried that a strap might break and little Maddie would go tumbling to the ground. The odds of this happening were very small, I realized, but I was worried nonetheless. It didn’t matter how many dudes with babies in bjorns I saw at ball games jawing on their cell with one hand and drinking a beer with the other – I always secured Maddie with one hand when she was in the bjorn.
Another time the worry wort in me came out was when we took Maddie on her first airplane ride to Arizona for a weekend getaway to see some spring training baseball. I had Maddie on my lap as we took off, and soon it dawned on me that if we hit some bad turbulence she might go flying up to the ceiling. Despite being exhausted from a long work week, I fought the urge to nod off and wrapped my arms around Maddie. I held her safe and sound until we touched down on the ground an hour or so later.
Sadly, no matter how much we worry about our loved ones or fight to keep them safe, we can only control so much. Our worlds can be turned upside down at any moment. As Maddie’s dad I wanted nothing more than to keep her safe, but it was out of my control. I stood fifteen feet away from my little girl as she fought for her life and there was nothing I could do to save her.
We want to think we have the power to keep our loved ones – our children – safe, but we don’t. Not entirely. There is so much beyond our control. With this said it is easy to understand people who don’t love with all their hearts, because the more you love the more you open yourself up to pain. I can’t live that way though, and if you care enough to come here and read this you probably can’t either.
I don’t have any great wisdom about how we can deal with living and loving in a world that can be so cruel. I wish I did.