• When Empowering Your Children Doesn't Go Exactly as Planned (OR: how I tried not to hand down my phobias to my children)

When Empowering Your Children Doesn't Go Exactly as Planned (OR: how I tried not to hand down my phobias to my children)

spider with a web of words relating to fear

When I became a parent, I was hopeful that my children would inherit only my best traits and mix them in with their own amazing personalities.

What I didn’t want was for them to be the me that I didn’t want to be.

I didn’t want them to have my fears, my doubts, my obsessive compulsive need to make lists.

I figured they’d manage to find their own issues in life that I’d coach them through and they didn’t need to walk in any of my more uncomfortable shoes.

For instance, in a recent post, I spoke to my inability to connect easily to humor (Live and LOL). Thankfully, I have managed to nurture 2 girls with similar and yet completely different senses of humor: one who is quirky and is a great mimic of character voices; the other who loves to be hysterically silly to the point of hysterically sobbing. And, they have taught me that I can crack up alongside them.

But my other ‘for instance’ is spiders. Frankly, I’m not a fan. In fact, spiders rate up there with what I have always called silverfish (but are actually the really very ugly, very hairy house centipedes* ) in giving me the heart-racing heebie-jeebies. I will, however, confess to a fascination with worms and snakes. Go figure.

From the day my first daughter was born, I was a mother on a mission. If my girls would not be arachnologists, they would at least have a humble respect of eight-legged creatures.

Because here’s me before giving birth: I scream in fear at a spider. I scream louder upon spraying it with hairspray. (It slows them down.) I feel badly about the hairspray but I crush it anyway and then scream louder and do the creepy wiggle dance as if the ghosts of all spiders past are now coming for me.

And here’s me after giving birth: I marvel at the wonders of a spider; it is suddenly something wondrous to behold. Outward calm is required. And along with any other misdirected indoor bug, I carefully and calmly capture it an upside-down plastic container or glass under which I masterfully slide a piece of thick paper. The offending crawly creature - sorry - spider is shown to all with my ‘oooh’ and also my ‘ahhh’ and then placed outside.

At least, that is what my girls saw shortly after they were each born and it is what they continue to see to this day.

Confession… What I actually do is totally creep-out inside while the “never let them see you sweat” tagline plays as my new very loud, unspoken mantra in my head repeating on some high speed loop.

Then, I (seemingly) calmly capture said creature, (seemingly) calmly recite its praises as to size and color and hairiness to my audience of captive children, and then – when their attention is redirected – I run the damn thing at full speed to the nearest door and try not to toss said spider and container airborne. (Spiders, I believe, do not take kindly to flying. Plus, I want my container back.)

I stayed true to my plan/pain. I became the resident professional no-kill spider relocation consultant. I lost only a very few – and those went to the overly ‘playful’ cats with lessons to the children about the circle of life as we all watched in equal parts fascination, agony, and disgust. Still, there was a lingering touch of fear as we kept a respectful distance in case noted spider won with a devious escape plan.

Then my girls got older. And wiser. I’m still the resident professional no-kill spider relocator. But my girls provide the backdrop for the sound effects in Arachnophobia with screams that are worthy of Academy Awards. (Is there a category for “Most High Pitched, Believable Shrieks of Terror”?)

So much for good intentions. So much for the years of my own silent suffering with cheerful tones a I spluttered, “Isn’t this the coolest one we’ve everrrrrrr seen? What a beautiful color! Look at those long hairy legs! She clearly never shaves!” <insert casual sounding but choked chuckle here>


My aging teen girls? They refuse to enter the garage. To hell with the garbage cans and rakes and snow shovels; it’s full of … yes, spiders. Full to the brim apparently. “I’m not going in there, mom. You can’t make me.” Indeed. I can’t. Damn.

1 0


My girls won’t step into a shower with a spider that they could easily wash down the drain. They’d rather stink for weeks.

SpidersStinky Girls
1 2 (2 being the number of girls, not the score)


My girls won’t empty the very full vacuum cleaner bag because they bravely sucked up a spider two weeks ago when I wasn’t around to rescue them (and the spider) and the creature might still be waiting for them. Dirty floors prevail.

SpidersClean House for Guests
1 0


Spider: 1; Clean House for Guests: 0

So much for being an amazing role model.

So much for being an amazing mom.

So much for saving the planet in my own small way.

Hell, my girls won’t even pick up worms after a rainstorm and I’ve done that without even a trace of squeamishness since I was a kid!

In their lives, spiders rule.

Somehow, in spite of all my best intentions, I have failed them.

On the other hand, they are pretty amazing in lots of other ways – all of which, I like to imagine, they clearly inherited from me.

Note: My business partner advises that "insectophobes" (or rather, un-technically, "arthropodphobes") should NOT look up "insect with many long legs" shortly after eating. Please only click the link in the post after determining your own level of fascination risk.


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