Which Came First, The Chicken or the Brave?

chick on pink background

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Before I was a mom, I’d only spent minimal time with babies and kids. It’s not like I didn’t like them. I just didn’t have much opportunity to mix and mingle with the under three crowd. Like any new parent, I was freaked out by all the things that could hurt or kill my baby.


I didn’t know what the term hyper-vigilant meant until my baby entered the world.


He was healthy and we were exhausted. We didn’t have much to worry about except for feeding him, teaching him, loving him, respecting him, soothing him, guiding him, deciphering him, providing for him and protecting him. You know, not much.


It’s easy. Really, really easy to get overwhelmed by everything a new parent needs to learn and do. Some of it I found to be instinctual, thank god, once I cut out a lot of the noise of what I was supposed to do, and buy, and apply to my baby.


I read some wonderful parenting books and blogs, spoke to other parents when I could, and my husband and I discussed what we thought would be best for our child. My worries began to subside and my confidence grew. But, what didn’t go away was the crazed need to protect him.


Was he warm enough? Was he safe in the car? Were his toys all organic? Was that other mom looking at him funny? I’ll cut her throat!


The need (the utter desperation) to protect my child didn’t need any coaxing. I drove my husband nuts by following them to the door every time they were about to leave, to throw some extra hat or sweater or scarf on him. I had to. I couldn’t stop myself from protecting him from real or imaginary threats.


My husband had it with me and so did I. My anxiety level around protecting my son was preventing me from providing him the very best. I needed to chill the f out and come up with a plan to manage my craziness.


Now, I’m not suggesting that creating a safe environment for your child isn’t smart and necessary. It absolutely is! I’m saying my stress and anxiety over protecting him was overriding my ability to be the best mom I could be. So I took deep breaths. Counted to ten. Read more books.


I realized I could protect him but couldn’t hold him back from exploring the world.


He had a natural curiosity and displayed great bravery in trying new things as most babies do. He didn’t shy away from a challenge. He threw himself fully into it with gusto and grunting. He wanted to feel, taste, jiggle, shake, and grab everything he was experiencing.


He was amazed by the simplest of functions and determined to try everything new. (If you want to feel empowered, spend a few minutes playing peek-a-boo with a baby making them laugh their asses off with your basicness).


Unfortunately, so many of us go from fierce warriors slaying the beasts of the unknown to worrywarts afraid to quit a job we hate or tell someone we love them. Do the stakes just get too high as we age or do we learn how to be a chicken from the other chickens around us?


I’d say a little bit of both. As parents, we instill a lot in our children. We write the code of how to be a good human through our modeled behavior. Beyond the very basics, they learn how to be by watching and interacting with us and how we treat them. Our fears are passed along too. The more we fear, the more they learn to fear.


We chip away at their bravery and loosen their grip on what’s possible.


What happens when our reactions to danger outweigh the actual dangers? What can we expect when we allow our fears to rule our world and stifle our natural born bravery? What’s the result of being too scared to explore and evolve?


We turn into a chicken.


Someone pecking away with their head down, safely in their coop, until they meet their fate.


Share a story of bravery when you lived the call of your soul and said screw it to the monotony of pecking away at something you knew wasn’t for you.


4 Responses

  1. I’ve been braving the wilderness (walking along uncharted territory) my whole life. Why, you ask? Who would purposefully put themselves in challenging situations, often? Well, I was an abused kid and I don’t think my internal barometer worked, which was supposed to measure the atmospheric pressure and shout, “Don’t go there! It’s not safe”. So when I was 25 years old, I made a brave move from Connecticut to Calif, all by myself. I had NO romantic prospects in Conn. I mean none, zilch. Being that the north-east corner of Conn was riddled with factories and textile mills, the average adults in that region completed no more than a 10th grade education. I had to make a move. I had just completed my masters degree from the Univ. of Conn in Special Ed, and after much deliberation I decided to move to sunny California. I packed up my 1972 red VW Bug with all my belongings, including two huge spider plants (couldn’t leave those babies behind) and off I went. Once I arrived, I applied to every single school district in three counties ( LA, Ventura, and Santa Barbara) and landed a job at Fillmore Junior HS. At the time I was completely out of my element but luckily I was a bit of a chameleon and in a few years, I was thriving. That was 1978 and I have been a CA resident since then. Twenty nine years ago I did find my prince charming and now we have two lovely daughters. Braving the wilderness is a tough road but it is the only way for me to be fully alive.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing some of your story Arnel! What a brave soul you are indeed…even if it did come from extremely difficult experiences. I’m so sorry for that. What I’m happy about is that you used that bravery to seek out a better life for yourself and from what I can tell, are definitely thriving from that move and your overall attitude. You are a beacon of hope for your daughters and others wanting to live the best life they can live. Thanks for enriching mine!

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