• Sun, Dec 22 - 1:00 pm ET

Top 4 Things I Am Unreasonably Afraid Of As A Mom

Fun fact: I am a huge worry-wart. I don’t mean your typically parenting worries, either. Nope, I worry about basically everything. I’m talking about unreasonable, ridiculous things that there is almost no chance whatsoever of happening to my kids or anyone else I know. Intellectually, I know this. But emotionally, it’s hard to swallow.

Below are some of the inexplicable, unlikely and sometimes silly things that petrify me as a parent.

4. Choking on basically anything

My youngest child is now three, going on four, and yet I am still insanely worried about him choking on basically everything he eats. I still cut up his grapes, hot dogs, cantaloupe, strawberries, etc. If it’s not already bite sized, chances are I cut that shit up. I didn’t stop doing this for my other kids until they were at least four. Hell, they were cutting up their own damn foods and pushing me away before I stopped doing it.

3. Getting hit by a car

Much like the one above, this is a rational fear that I’ve just taken to the next level. In my defense, I did witness my 16-year-old cousin get hit by a car right in front of me, and it’s stayed with me all these years later. Crossing the street with all three kids here in NYC where I live is an anxiety attack waiting to happen.

2. Random act of violence

Being an American, this honestly wasn’t something I put a lot of thought into growing up. All that changed on September 11, 2001 when I, along with nine million other New Yorkers (and the rest of the world) witnessed 9-11. A close friend of my family died that day, and it forever instilled in me a fear of something like that happening again in my hometown. Obviously, it happens in other parts of the world every single day, a fact that I am well aware of, and you can’t go a day without reading about it or seeing it on the news. I think about this every time I take my kids on the subway, or on the bus, or into a crowded shopping mall.

1. Kidnapping

When I was six or seven, my family and I were visiting some relatives in Kansas. We were staying at a motel, and I got separated from my grandparents for a few minutes. A lovely looking couple came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go back to their room and see their dog. Being a kid, I said yes, and started walking with them. We got right outside of their door when my grandfather caught up to us. The scariest part of this? When they opened the door, there was no dog. According to my grandparents later on, the couple swore that I had been mistaken, but I remember distinctly what they said. Were they trying to kidnap me? Who knows. This was the 1980′s, well before Amber Alerts or even decent security cameras. Still, intellectually, I understand that in general, kids are way more likely to be victimized by someone they know. But that moment stayed with me, and allowing my kids the freedom that they deserve has been an uphill battle for their entire lives. I don’t keep them in a bubble, but dammit if the desire to isn’t there.

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  • Kay_Sue

    I have an irrational fear of driving with my children over bridges. I’m always afraid it’s going to collapse.

    Yours all sound totally and completely rational to me also. Parenting’s so fun.

    • Jessica

      I have a lot of driving anxiety that really went into overtime once I had kids, and bridges are the worst.

    • Kay_Sue

      They really, really are.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Have you ever heard of the Sellwood bridge in Portland?

      Thousands of people drive over it every day and just about every single one of them is convinced that it’s going to fall into the river and kill them. I’ve only driven on it like four times because it’s so horrifying. Luckily they are fixing it.

      But seriously, the guy who DESIGNED the bridge refused to drive over it. That’s how bad it is.

    • Katie L.

      I’ve always hated driving over the Sellwood and it’s only gotten worse since they shifted it while they rebuild. Fortunately I don’t drive over it often but I always hold my breath.

      I have to drive past it tomorrow and I am already not looking forward to the traffic snarl. Everything will be better when it’s fixed.

    • Kay_Sue

      I had not, but I am kinda thankful to live on the opposite side of the country from it.

      We got stuck on a bridge going over the New River in Virginia not long ago. Talk about a nightmare!

    • Natasha B

      We have family that lives in Eugene, so we make the trip from MPLS to OR every summer, in our family RV (we Rollin gangsta) and we cross that bridge, plus the terrifying ones/ overpasses in Seattle. I hide in the back and make hubby drive that leg. Also, crossing Lake Claire de lLune in Idaho. Gorgeous lake. Terrifying bridges.

    • Alicia Kiner

      Ever since that bridge collapse in MN a few years ago, big bridges terrify me. We go to Ocean City, MD almost every summer and there’s a big bridge that goes over the Chesapeake Bay. My mother and sister in law think it’s hilarious that I am terrified of it. I refuse to drive over it, and keep my eyes closed the entire time.

    • Kay_Sue

      We travelled to Charleston, SC, and there’s a huge bridge that goes over the harbor. I squeeze my eyes shut going over it too. It’s the only thing that gets me over it in one piece.

    • Natasha B

      Yeah….we live in Mpls. Even though it was rebuilt, I still avoid the shit out of that thing. There’s a ton of bridges here, and to get anywhere in the cities you have to cross one. Bridges are my worst fear-and it gets worse with every kid I have. I have a ‘strategic plan’ in my glove box in case we go off one. Not smart, but… I need it.

    • The Great Queen Spider

      When I was a kid I was afraid an earthquake would hit and we’d be on a bridge and it’d collapse.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    That last one freaked me out. I can’t think of a realistic or normal reason a pair of adults would ask a child they didn’t know to go to their room and see a dog that doesn’t exist.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Or even a dog that DOES exist. That’s a little frightening in my opinion,

    • Andrea

      I watched something on TV about this once. What they did is this: they got all this kids (with their parents permission of course) and gave them all this lecture about stranger danger and how to act and what to do if a stranger approaches them. They had them rehearse, role play, etc. Then they all went to the park and played in the playground. The parents were all watching this, but were not with them.
      Then they had a guy approach them asking them if they wanted to see some puppies in his van. All of them went. ALL OF THEM. There were no puppies in the van, but he told them, oh they are at another part of the park, you guys want to go with me to see them? About half of them actually got in the van with him. This was all staged of course, but the parents were horrified.
      Moral of the story: keep an eye on your kid.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I think I saw that one. However, I saw something else in the same vein that was very encouraging. In this set-up, a child alone at a park was approached by a man and all the parents in the area went on alert, kept an eye on the situation, and told him to beat it once he made his move to get child to leave with him.
      So, there’s that.

    • Andrea

      Gives you some hope at least.

    • Simone

      Mmm. I am that interfering person who observes everyone around all the kids. I will ask, and have asked, the child if this person is known to them.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I think that was Oprah a long time ago….

  • Andrea

    Here was my irrational fear. When my children were really little, I was staying at home with them. Pretty much me alone for most of the day. My irrational fear was that something would happen to me, like faint or get seriously injured or something like that and pass out and my children would be unsupervised and unattended for the rest of the day until dad got home.
    I blame Steel Magnolias for this.

    • Bria

      This actually happened to someone my husband works with. His wife had an aneurysm while she was home with their newborn and he was at work.

    • Andrea

      OH GOD!!! *sobs* Please tell me she was came out ok!!!!! And the baby too!!!

    • Bria

      This is not at all going to help your irrational fear.. the baby was ok, but the mom died. The doctors said that something like this happening is so incredibly rare though

    • Andrea

      *sobs some more*

    • Guest

      Yes! I have this same fear and it is TOTALLY because of Steel Magnolias. I always think how distressed he would be trying to get mommy to wake up. Totally get this one.

    • Andrea

      My phone was always clipped to my waist. And my cellphone in my pocket. ALWAYS. Not that this was 100% protection, but you know..

    • Natasha B

      Oh my gosh yes this!!! One of my biggest fears :/

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Me too! I read a story once about that woman who was killed out on Long Island and left with her 3-year-old for almost a week. It gave me the chills. Apparently it happens sometimes.

  • Amber Starr

    I have an irrational fear of my newborn getting whooping cough. Until she gets all of her vaccines, I’m still going to assume that everyone and everything is infected with it.

    Funny enough, I don’t mind friends and family holding her… but if they start coughing, it’s game over.

    • Andrea

      Considering how wide spread anti-vaxers have gotten in many areas, I don’t believe this is an irrational fear at all. If my children were still little and not had their shots yet, I’d be scared too.

    • Amanda the crafty

      My son DID get whooping cough and scarlet feverand he had been vaccinated. He was ok after a hospital stay and a buttload of antibiotics (that is the medical term for lot) :-)

    • Andrea

      It’s scary as hell. My sister had the whooping cough when she was little. (this was before the vaccine). I’m sure no one likes to see their child sick, in pain and/or suffering, but I am sure watching them struggle to breathe is a special kind of hell.

    • JussyLee

      I’m pregnant, and I demanded a Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) as soon as I hit 27 weeks! I’m not screwing around with that shit!

  • keelhaulrose

    I didn’t have a fear of kidnapping until one day a guy who, while he looked like a perfectly nice gentleman, gave me the major creeps came up and told my daughter how pretty she and her red hair are. It got me thinking of how many people approach her because of her hair. Now I get panicky if she’s out of my sight in public.
    I gotta stop watching Criminal Minds.

    • Andrea

      I never watch the ones involving kids. I just can’t.

    • Natasha B

      Oh, this. Yes. One compliment, sure. Going on and on and naming features? GTFO creep.

    • AugustW

      When my daughter was about a year and a half an older man came up to her in my shopping cart and said that her beautiful smile deserved a dollar.
      I took it and promptly put it in the donation bin at the cash register.

    • Natasha B

      Eeeeesh. I mean, kids are beautiful. And I’ll tell them! But….don’t take it to far!

    • AugustW

      For sure.

  • Katie L.

    Yes to all of these and all of them in the comments. My twisted little brain comes up with all kinds of horrifying calamities. Right now my fear is other people (including my husband) driving my child while I’m not in the car. I don’t know where it came from but it’s no fun. My kid is only two! I don’t want to be the crazy mom who never lets her kid do anything! How do people let go?

  • EX

    The last one is really scary and reminds me that my mom was almost abducted when she as about 8 or so. She lived in the city and was on her way home by herself. A man tricked her into having her let him into the building (he pretended he was going to visit someone in there – he had studied the names on the directory ahead of time) and then once inside insisted he needed her help (I can’t remember the exact details of what he said to her) but in the end she started to get creeped out so she tried to leave and he grabbed her by the back of the coat. She screamed bloody murder and I think the coat ripped and she got free and made it to her apartment. She never told me that story until I was much older but it’s a miracle that she ever let me go anywhere by myself after having had that experience.

  • Sarah

    I can so relate to this. My family calls me mama bear because they think I’m overprotective. Like yours, I think most are basically rational, I just take them to the next level. I’m super scared going up and down the steps because I’m afraid I’ll trip and my daughter will fall over the railing to the floor below. I’m afraid ill have a stoke while my older daughter (2) is taking a bath and she’ll drown. I’m freaking TERRIFIED of choking. I’m not sure how normal or common all this is.

  • 21foothouse

    Sigh, I have a pretty morbid irrational fear too. I was a kid when Columbine happened, and a few years later while I was in I think Jr High, one of the victim’s fathers came and talked to us about his son and the shooting. That’s when it started, I began to worry about where I would hide and how I would escape if someone came into the school and opened fire. Then of course more school shootings followed, and I spent the rest of Jr High and High school constantly monitoring my exits and picking my seats based on angle in relation to the door etc. There was a brief reprieve for a few months when I got to post secondary school then BAM Virginia tech and I was a mess again, followed by a security lockdown at my residence when they thought someone had a gun in one of the apartment complexes. I moved off campus the year after that. I thought when I graduated I was FINALLY safe, I would not be caught up in a school shooting… and now I’m afraid to go to the movies…

    Then, when I was visiting the United States this past fall I walked around a corner at an event I was attending and ran right smack into a guy carrying a gun. I almost lost my shit. Fortunately I held it together enough to realize there was a gun show happening next door at the same fair grounds as my event.

    But yeah, basically, I’m afraid of gun violence in the mass random shooting sort of context. When I have nightmares, that’s always what they’re about, and you bet it will affect me when it’s time to take my future kids to school for the first time. I’m going to try to avoid giving them preschool commando escape training…

  • Natasha B

    Kidnapping is def one of my biggest fears-I just know if someone offered to show my 9yo a puppy or kitten she would follow them anywhere, no matter how much we pund it into her head.
    My biggest, completely irrational will prob never happen but I obsess over? Me, driving alone in the SUV with 4 kids (#4 is on the way) and we get in an accident, go over a bridge and crash in the water. Which kid would I unbuckle first? Who would help who out? How would I get them all out of the water? It’s bad enough where I have sat down with the hubs and strategically written out a plan of escape. We live in a metro with several rivers/lakes snaking through-it’s to the point I go 20/30 min out of my way, and through heavy traffic, to avoid them.

    • Katherine Handcock

      I have had that exact thought about going into the water, and I only have two kids I’d have to get out safely. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. It’s pretty well the only really irrational parenting fear I’ve got, and I have no idea why it’s quite so stuck in my head.

    • Natasha B

      It’s terrifying :/ it didn’t used to be so bad, but the past 6 months it has def amped up. It makes me feel better I’m not the only one too haha!

    • Tiffany

      Trying to be logical here, though I know it’s hard to when your children are in danger… But I’d plan to get them out of their seats in order from oldest to youngest… Then the oldest could *potentially* help by opening a door or window, unbuckling a sibling and/or even swimming to shore themselves while I proceeded to the younger children. If you start with the young ones, depending on their age you may be stuck holding them and need to get them entirely to safety before you could go back to help another child which I think would just eat up time.

    • Natasha B

      Hubby and I actually sat down and talked through a plan-keep windows rolled up to give yourself time and let pressure equalize, unbuckle 18mo and send with 9 yo through sunroof, (curtain airbags-won’t be able to get out windows) unbuckle 4yo and have him piggyback while I carry newborn. Being logical def helps tamp down that sick feeling in your stomach :)

    • AugustW

      I worry about this as well because my 3 year old figured out pretty quickly that she could go places with an adult she couldn’t go alone. Unfortunately she isn’t all that picky about which adult.

    • Natasha B

      Being a parent is terrifying. 24/7.

    • Michelle Pittman

      OMG that’s my biggest fear & phobia in ONE!!! i HATE driving over or near water – lake, ocean, river, doesn’t matter — i HATE it — and if there aren’t guardrails? i almost have a panic attack driving…i have totally thought the scenario out of trying to get out alive w/my 2 kids if i accidentally crashed into a river or lake…and for a very long time when they were little i kept 2 pool noodles in my trunk (can get to my trunk thru the backseat) just in case…because you know, pool noodles would totally work :-( but in my defense — there have been 2-3 accidents in my hometown on this really bad road where people crashed into the river and died…one was a grandma and her granddaughter — and they had 911 calls from them while they were trapped in the car — freaking awful — so yeah — that totally pushed a slight fear to an all out phobia :-(

  • Alexandra

    WOW that last one was scary! I remember being around 6 y.o. ish and playing in our cul-de-sac with a neighbor (also 6-ish) and a car came up and asked us for directions. Our parents were inside (it was a VERY safe, good neighborhood) and I just remember being taught that adults don’t ask small children for directions.
    (I mean, obviously, but when you’re little you need to be taught that!)
    I ran up to get my mom, while neighbor-kid talked to this man in the street, and as soon as I ran up my driveway calling “mom!!!!” the guy sped away so fast.
    I still remember that.
    Was is an attempted kidnapping? Obvs we were so little no way that adult man could have thought we knew the streets well enough to give him driving directions???

  • Alicia Kiner

    I need to stop reading these, ya’ll are freaking me out

  • MamaLlama

    You freaked me out… Right before bed…. While my husband is gone working an overnight shift. And, you forgot drowning… Ugh!