When my children were young, my mother said, “I’m going to mind my own business, but this piece of advice I do want to give you: when they start school, make sure they do their homework, don’t take their word for it, check on them. Had I done that for you, I would have noticed that you didn’t really know how to learn. You were just smart, and because of that you didn’t learn how to learn and study.” Fortunately, my genius of a piano teacher taught me how to practice and that helped with school. A bit.
On the topic of home-making, my mother emphasized the importance of a beautiful home, tastefully decorated, clean, tidy – for the children’s sakes. She said that when she was a child, her own mother, my grandmother, apparently didn’t care too much about decorating – not even simple gestures such as a table cloth on the dining table, flowers in a vase. My mother said it always made her feel inferior when she went to other people’s houses and saw how beautifully decorated they were. My own thought on this is that I am sure that if you asked my mother’s younger sister, who grew up in the same house, she would have no recollection of an inferiorly decorated home. Not only because, perhaps, she didn’t care as much as my mother, but more so because she didn’t feel inferior, period. My grandmother apparently very openly favored her younger daughter, treating my mother rather coldly and unlovingly. I have often thought that if it hadn’t been the missing table cloth and flowers, she would have found something else – anything – to make her feel inferior. It is a sad testament to how my grandmother raised her two daughters that my mother grew up feeling inferior. Never good enough.
I live in fear. Like my mother’s feeling inferior, there’s not much of an outside reason for me to be afraid. But I am. I am afraid of losing Mark. To illness, accident, death. I am afraid because we are so very close. Is it normal for two people to want to be together all the time? It can’t be normal that two people don’t get tired of each other, can it? I am afraid that something might happen to me, illness, accident, death. I am afraid that something will put Mark again in a position where he will have to take care of someone, or lose someone. I am afraid that I am not good enough for us.
Being afraid is different from worrying. I don’t worry, I am afraid. Worrying implies an active state of mind, hand-wringing, obsessing about perceived danger. Being afraid runs in the background, it is.