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Balancing the What Ifs: Trying to Push Past Worry

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were talking with my cousin and his wife. It came up that my cousin wanted to hike to the Everest base camp. My reaction to this consisted of multiple high pitched, “what?!” and my drawing out the word cr-A-zy into three syllables.

I was surprised when my cousin asked me, “Why is that so crazy?” Uh, because people die on Everest! It’s super scary! There have been like twenty made for TV movies and a million books on the subject. “But,” my cousin argued, “you could also die going camping, and you do that.”

Ya, and it scares me just a little bit every time.

The What Ifs

The imaginative what ifs can easily consume me once the sky is dark and there are few noises left, but nature itself. What if a mouse has made its bed inside my sleeping bag? What if a mountain lion came to our tent?

I began to wonder… how much do these “what ifs” affect what I allow my children to do? I don’t think I could give an exact number, but my worries can definitely affect what my children do.

Encouraging exploration while hiking or camping with my kiddos is one of the harder things I have to do when what ifs are filling my brain. What if a mountain lion comes out? What if they fall into a camouflaged hole? Or what if they run into a crazy mountain man? Do I have some ridiculous fears? Why yes, yes I do. Maybe it’s all the “Final Destination” movies I’ve watched.

Overcoming the What Ifs

Months ago, my oldest wanted to get a ukulele. I put off purchasing one because what if I buy it and she loses interest in it? What if she doesn’t take care of it and sits on it? That could happen. For Christmas, my husband and I decided to get our girl a ukulele. I was so surprised how she jumped right in and learned song after song. She’s protective of her ukulele. It’s her prized possession.

I want my girls to explore, to find problems to solve, to have questions and to search for answers. If I want my girls to explore, I can’t listen to these what ifs. Or I can, and stay quiet as they climb that tree to see as far as they can see (while my insides are cringing). There is of course a balance for the exploration, but it’s going to be different for every parent. My point is, that if I listened to every what if I have, there would be no balance for my girls.

I have to remind myself of a quote that is the signature in every email that one of my girl’s teachers sends: “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

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