Thursday, March 1, 2012

Certain of the Uncertainty

Today I am answering the question:
"How do you feel about uncertainty?  Is it exciting or scary?"

     I am terrified of uncertainty.  That was what I immediately thought when I read today’s writing prompt.  
     But then I decided to give the question more careful consideration.  Why am I so afraid of uncertainty?
     What does uncertainty really mean to me?
     In my younger days  I can recall being excited about future possibilities.    The butterflies in my stomach produced by the heightened anticipation of the first day of school was a good feeling.    Would I like my teachers?   Would I find a new best friend?
     In my younger days as I began my first job, it didn’t matter that I did not know what a Credit Investigator’s responsibilities were.  I was just excited that I was chosen to fill the spot above all of the other applicants.
     In my younger days, at age 19, I was not concerned about vacationing at the beach for a week all by myself.
     In my younger days, even though it was uncertain whether or not my father would walk me down the aisle or if my parents would attend my wedding, I was thrilled to start the next chapter of my life.
     In my younger days, I looked forward to taking impromptu trips.  I had no reservations about not having reservations.
     In my younger days, I had no doubt that each of the lives growing inside of me would be be born healthy with all five fingers and toes.
     In my younger days, I didn’t think about my parents growing old or becoming ill.
     Even though I never met that new best friend, I did keep my one friend all through high school and still have managed to keep in touch with her.
     Even though my first job as a Credit Investigator didn't work out, my employer was pleased enough with my work ethics to have the confidence in me to place me in a more suitable position.
     Even though I didn't make it the whole week by myself at the beach because some creepy guy plopped himself down on my blanket and paid a little too much attention to the number on my motel room key,  I did go back to that same motel the next summer, with my sister.
    Even though the marriage ended after 27 years, my mother gave me a bridal shower, my father did walk me down the aisle and they both attended my wedding.  And my ex-husband and I remain friendly.
    Sometimes our impromptu trips didn't work out exactly as unplanned.  Our ideas of what an acceptable motel turned out to be different.   Not that I expected anything fancy, but I got no sleep that night at the Bates.  No, I don't think that had anything to do with the marriage not working out.
     I can almost remember exactly when the giddy butterflies of uncertainty changed to a clutch of fear in my stomach.
     It was the first time I called the pediatrician.  My little one month old baby girl was running a fever. I remember it was a Sunday morning.  I fully expected the doctor to assure me that it was normal for babies to get sick.  I thought he would give me advice on how to treat the fever and tell me to call him in the morning.  But instead he said, “Bring her right in!” Okay maybe there wasn't an exclamation point in his voice but that's how I remember it.   And I remember being very afraid because I didn't know what to expect.
     I believe that's when I started to become frightened  of uncertainty. That's when the "what if" questions began.  My child's illness turned out to be an ear infection.  Nothing life threatening.  But I think it was at that moment that I realized that I was totally responsible for this young life.  How could I be certain that I would know how?
     The next incident that re-enforced my fear of uncertainty happened at the same pediatrician's office.  I had taken my beautiful little baby boy for his 3 month check up.  The doctor was moving his finger in front of my son's eyes to see if he would follow the finger.  I remember the doctor saying, "He should't be doing that".  At first I thought that he was remarking on how advanced my baby's eyesight was.  But as it turned out my son's vision was not normal.  By the time he was 5 years old, he had two surgeries to correct the problem.  It was uncertain whether his vision would be affected at some time in his future.  That was scary.
     Age and experience has most definitely changed my attitude about uncertainty.  The hope and promise of uncertainty that I had in my younger days, has been replaced by dread and fear.
     Painful memories of my mother's last days still haunt me.  
     There could be no other emotion but fear as our family waited for the uncertain results of my son's first CT scan.  And that was followed by that same fearful uncertainty many times over the next almost two years.
     I visit my aunt and I can see how the uncertainty of her future without her husband of 47 years is scary for her.  And I wonder if I will ever have to experience that.  And I can't imagine my life without Ross.
    Uncertainty for me equates to worry about the future.  Will my daughter find a job after being out of work for over two years.  What will they do?  How will they manage?  Will my daughter-in-law be okay? What will Domani's life be like without his father?  Will I ever see my other grandchildren again?  How about our health?  The list goes on and on.
     I feel that I have to end this post on a positive note, though.  The spirit within me may not be in the best mood lately, but the spirit within me still lives.  Of that I am certain.

Here is today's entry from Anna's Diary:
Friday March 1 1929
Beautiful and glorious day out.  Mary with Marie here for lunch.  Elsie came over and we all went for a ride.  Stopped at Grace on way back.  Had tea.  Baby Marion getting sweeter and dear.


  1. Beautiful pictures as always--and hopeful, too, all those young 'uns wondering around. I think you can absolutely be forgiven for having some terror and discomfort when it comes to uncertainty. I think we all get a little less comfortable with life's uncertainties as we grow older, knowing that the stakes get higher as we become parents and as we see how vulnerable we and those we love can actually be.

  2. As always, Lynda, I appreciate your thoughtful post.  It may well inspire a post of my own.  You really got me when you wrote about the pediatrician's response to the fever in the one month old daughter.  Sonny Boy was only five days old but he did not eat, was asleep ALL the time (and I do mean all the time),  and had pretty much stopped any bathroom function.  Even my relatively newcomer status as a parent told me something was wrong here.  I called the hospital helpline for new parents and the urgency in the referring voice terrified me.  Her response was. "This is urgent.  He needs to me seen immediately".  Talk about scared and what an intro to the depth of connection to the baby.  Both RR (his dad) and I cried on the way to the hospital with our fear of losing him.  The doctor examined Sonny Boy carefully and was coming up blank.  He then started asking questions about the delivery and I allowed as to how it had been very rough.  I was still taking pain meds - demerol - OMG!  The doctor's face lit up big time - stop with the demerol and the baby will wake up.  and what do you know?  he did!  btw, he remained a very happy little guy.  Only once in his first year did he cry for a long period of time when I couldn't figure out what the issue was.  Happy boy.