We pulled up quickly and efficiently into the darkened parking lot in our cozy and warm minivan. As I put our family vehicle into park I heard a tiny voice emerge from the backseat.
My four year old sputtered, “I don’t like it here.”
I sighed silently to myself, then spoke softly, “it’s ok. This isn’t where we’re going. We’re going over there.”
I pointed across the street to a brightly lit and inviting church. We were attending a much-anticipated social event where the girls would see their friends from the homeschool group we were involved with. At the beginning of this semester my preschooler had cried when left alone in class with new friends, but by the end she had made new pals and truly enjoyed herself. I knew this was something she wanted to do too, but still…
She asked, “Is it on the bottom floor or do we have to ride an elevator?”
“It’s on the top, but just one floor, and we’ll take the stairs,” I answered calmly.
I wasn’t always calm. It was not only challenging to raise an anxious child, but also exasperating. I ranged from wanting to throttle her during her meltdown moments to wanting to cry right along with her for my supposed failures. After all, so many times I had wondered, what did I do that has made her this way?!!
Did I not give her enough attention when the new baby came?
Was I somehow lacking in the love she needed to make her feel secure?
Was it that time I screamed like a maniac at her?
The mommy guilt had been strong over the last couple of years as I watched her quirky, unwarranted fears come out. I couldn’t for the life of me pinpoint why my first child was so social and confident, yet the second that I had raised the same was so not. I tried not to compare, but as she developed her peculiar fears I questioned my parenting over and over. What had I done differently and why was she afraid? No abuse, neglect, or negative treatment by anyone else had occurred.
So why did she ask me if I knew where we were everytine I took a different route to the store?
“Are we lost?”