No, not labored, but definitely rasping. Wheezing. Dammit. Why didn’t I drive around? The long way would’ve taken extra – precious – time, but it would’ve assured we would not be stopped by a train.
But I didn’t. And here we are, you rasping in the backseat, me stealing worried glances at your angelic face through the rearview mirror.
It’s not an emergency. Just a precaution. I’m reminding myself, convincing myself.
As I second-guess my choices, I think about how much fear there is in this whirlwind called parenthood. In this whirlwind called life.
I don’t want you to be afraid. I want to teach you that health problems can be managed, that all problems can be managed. Your troubles don’t define you. Yes, we must be cautious. We must somehow strike that delicate balance of planning for the what ifs, of proceeding with caution, while still living – truly living – in the here and now.
I want you to live your life fearless enough to follow your dreams, despite that necessary caution. Just fearless enough. And I know the best way is to show you. So I will try. I am trying. I will keep trying.
We’ll go to that new event, try that new restaurant. I’ll let you climb up to the big-kid slide. My hand might be hovering behind you, but each time, it’ll be a little farther away. I’ll pull back, little by little.
And I’ll show you by not giving in to my own fears. I’ll keep riding the waterslides with your big brother (and, soon enough, with you). I’ll put my writing out into the world, even if that means risking rejection, even if it might never grace a shelf. I’ll put myself out there, little by little.
I’ll keep following my dreams, because I want you to keep following yours.
As I make this vow, I glance back again, and see that you are happy – of course you are, you love trains. What 3-year-old doesn’t? I call Daddy, home with big brother, for some quick reassurance.
I breathe, listening to you breathe.
And the train passes. We reach our destination. The doctor and the nurses are nice, helpful, competent. There are medicines, an x-ray, some extra screen time to distract you as you wear your cute little dinosaur nebulizer mask.
Soon, you are breathing easier. And so am I.
The train has passed. More will come. But we’ll be ready. Together, we’ll be just fearless enough.