Fear is an emotion and not, as we all readily appreciate, one that falls into the pleasant category. Causing unease, tension and knots in one’s stomach, fear is not something most rational human beings seek out. The exact opposite applies and most people, consciously or not, ensure their daily lives are not interrupted by this veritable intruder.
How fear affects us varies. That is, no exact scientific formula exists and like all emotions fear is relative and what one person cowers in dread at another simply laps up as a mere challenge to be overcome. Situations and circumstances also influence how our emotions govern our thoughts and the fear related to extreme sports for example, is markedly different from genuine terror where personal safety is concerned.
Parents have many worries when it comes to their beloved offspring. Some rational, others farfetched and of course the compete irrational variety. Classifications aside the role of dad in parenthood has one very specific and clearly defined fear. From those peering in from the outside this sensation is foolhardy, illogical and without basis. Conversely, every dad in the land understands this is not true. Bravado, and expectations of modern man in family life cause many of those in denial to refute the claims of I and other sufferers. Suppressing their true feelings some dads walk amongst us projecting a confident and all conquering act. We, the realists, see through this façade and have no problem with honestly sharing our biggest fear: four young children and mum announces she plans to be absent for a short period.
Mum’s absence means two things. First, I will be completely responsible for these four young people with no help whatsoever to draw on. And second, she has obviously taken leave of her senses – why on earth would she trust me with responsibility of caring for her most treasured possessions in the entire universe? What happens if upon her return one of the little angels is missing in action, or the entire house vacant because a hospital A&E visit was necessitated by the careless parenting of dad? There could be no forgiveness, no comeback, and only an empty shell left where once stood a proud man.
Entering the ring to contest a battle royal with a fellow combatant, taking up the scalpel for that first incision in theatre, and opening night performance jitters are nothing in comparison to this level of anxiety. However, only one question remains. Exactly what is a dad’s biggest fear: being left alone to look after the precious cargo or genuine concern for the return of mum’s sanity? Will it ever return; never again would she even consider asking me to look after the brood singlehandedly. I earn money, attempt to fudge the finances, and fix everything on a regular basis after our inquisitive descendants have finished dismantling it and pursue their next challenge. Whilst in the realms of reality my dear wife would never entrust me with such a task. Let us hope the marbles return, and quickly.