'What do you fear you'll pass on to your kids?'

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3 under 3

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age in her mummy blog. This week Amy talks about her irrational phobia, and the fear that she might pass her behaviour on to her girls...

'What do you fear you will pass on to your children? A big nose? Unruly hair? A penchant for extreme sports? Or do you fear passing on fear itself?

I'm not a particularly nervous person. I believe life is for the living, and would rather give something a go than regret missing the chance. I spent my childhood removing spiders from near my terrified sisters, love getting somewhere high to see the view, and have even stroked a crocodile. I've managed to overcome the fears I have had. I used to get nervous in lifts, hating the feeling that the wire might suddenly snap. The addition of twins and their double buggy into my life soon cured that. Lifts are a godsend. I can't say I exactly like flying either, but I've learned to breathe through the terror of take-off, then simply convince myself for the rest of the journey that I'm on a train. But there's one fear that remains, a terror I can't talk myself out of. In short, a phobia.

I was walking the girls to the bus-stop the other day when I spotted it. At the bottom of a lamp-post was a very obvious and very dead little blue tit. Muffling a shriek, I let go of 2 of the 3 most precious things in my life and actually veered onto the road. Desperately trying to keep the out-and-out panic from taking over my voice, I urged the girls to keep walking.

‘Don't touch it!' I yelped, as T peered down. ‘It's sleeping. We don't want to disturb it.' I was actually running by then.

They looked at me like I was insane. Gripping their hands again, I tried to calm my breathing, and managed to squeak out a question about the Alphablocks to keep them occupied while I recovered my senses. For as long as I can remember, the sight of a dead animal has sent me spiralling. I'm not just repulsed like anyone would be. I can't just shiver and move on. If I see some unfortunate bird or mouse or rabbit, I panic. I can't breathe and become convinced that every twig or stone just out of focus ahead is more death.

But I'm a mother now. I can't have a phobia, can I? I can't pass on my irrational panic to them. I want them to live their lives to the full, not live in fear. Are phobias genetic? Or if I let my girls see me lose it, will that make them believe there is something they ought to be scared of? My mum always puts her fear of moths down to seeing her own father freak out at one. Will my girls see me panic over a deceased rodent and spend their lives doing the same?

Or maybe it isn't that simple. Maybe kids are born to surprise you.

A few weeks ago, we had another bird incident that gives me hope that my children are just built of tougher stuff than I am. T and I had wandered into the playroom in search of juice, while G and M were overseeing Daddy and Grandad constructing a new trellis at the very bottom of the garden. As we walked in, there was a panicked flurry of feathers as a blackbird emerged from under the girls play table. It had clearly wandered through the open doors in search of food, but now, I don't know who was more surprised. As the bird, flew up, I yelped in shock, which caused the bird to panic even more - and fly straight into the window.

My heart still restarting from the surprise visitor's emergence, I flat out panicked. As it hit the glass with a sickening thump, I was utterly convinced it must have died. Gripping T, I screamed, somehow aware of my own ridiculousness, but completely helpless to stop it. I can't even describe the noises I made. I was crazed. Goodness only knows what my husband and father thought, but they came streaking down the garden. As my husband stepped into the room, there was another flurry of feathers. It turns out the poor bird was merely stunned, and my husband managed to usher it out of the room, while I tried to calm down. Still clutching T, embarrassment and guilt flowed over me. What had I done? How could I have let her see me like that?

‘Mummy just got a fright,' I quivered, breathing deeply. ‘I just didn't want the bird to get hurt.'

T just frowned at me, before turning to her father, correctly assessing who was worth trying to communicate with.

‘Birds shouldn't come into the playroom,' she informed her father, completely unfazed. ‘They might get an ouchie.'

With that, she wandered off into the kitchen.

‘Can I get my juice now?' she called.

I spent most of the day shaking. T and her sisters carried on playing, although T did keep insisting on shutting the back door because ‘a blackbird might fly in and scare Mummy'.

But not because it might scare her. She simply took it all in her stride.

So maybe fears aren't genetic and maybe you can't pass them on by letting them show. Or maybe I just have tough kids. Whatever the truth, this has been yet another lesson in parenting. I may not know how to overcome my phobia, but I've learned one thing. However you plan, whatever you try to show them and whatever you try to hide, your children will simply always find a way to surprise you.'

Is there something you're scared of passing on to your kids? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below.

Continued below...

Amy's other blog posts...

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