Our friendly spiders
I love spiders, I think they are wonderfully cute and silly creatures which are a benefit to all homes, but, I was not always like this, actually I used to be the complete opposite. When I was little, I was terrified of the eight-legged freaks, I'd scream and run whenever I'd see one or even when a bit of fluff looked like one and I'd beg my parents to rid me of the evil thing, although I also had very strong feelings about anything being killed I'd shout not to kill it which was contradicting and confusing to everyone around me, I didn’t want to be in the same room as a scary spider but also wanted it to live out its life away from me.
As I got older, more mature and rational I wish I could say things changed but unfortunately the more I avoided them the more my brain learnt they were indeed deadly and my fear grew. By the time I was in my late teens/early 20s I would have to search my bedroom before even thinking of sleeping, checking under my pillows and blankets wherever I was, like a child scared of monsters. Once while living with friends, I abandoned my bedroom after finding a particularly large critter and slept on the sofa for days until I found it on the wall in the hallway, even then I couldn’t sleep well for week unsure it was actually the same spider, or if I was still sharing a room with the beast.
Then I got pregnant, I know parents don’t always pass on their fears to their children (my mother is terrified of rodents which wasn’t passed on to me or my siblings) but I also knew there was a big chance it would, the cycle had to change so I came up with a plan, a plan which would change more than I realised at the time.
My plan was to fake it, to fake liking my mortal enemies in the hope my child wouldn’t be scared. When a spider was in the bath at bath time, I'd say something like “look at that cute little spider, can you count its legs? What an interesting creature, shall we leave bath time tonight so we don’t disturb it? Bye bye spider friend!” my little precious daughter would get close and smile and laugh not realising I was hyperventilating behind her, hands sweating and heart beating out of my chest, it was painful. Over the years it got slightly easier, I'd pretend the spiders had to go outside to be with their spider friends and other random excuses to get them away from me without showing my fear. After my second daughter was born I remember hearing them chatting to spiders together, my eldest pointing out her eight-legged friends I hadn't noticed living in the corners of the room.
Then something amazing happened, it must have been gradual but I remember the day I realised it had happened. I went downstairs to get some water in the evening, I turned on the kitchen light and a very large black spider was sitting above the sink, I walked in said “hello Mr Spider” poured my water and went back to bed. As I was falling asleep, I suddenly realised I wasn’t scared, my heart was slow, my hands were dry and I wasn’t petrified the spider was going to come upstairs and....well I never quite knew what I was actually scared of to be honest but that’s irrational fear for you. Somehow throughout my faking it I'd given myself behavioural therapy and my fear was gone, I was free! Not completely free unfortunately as most other things give me anxiety but I was free from this one and it’s a wonderful feeling, I highly recommend it.
Now we are a spider friendly house, they live in peace in most rooms, when the kids find a nest they protect the mother until tiny clumsy babies are born, the joy on their faces is heart-warming. We have a few trusty old spiders that stay in the same places forever and the big ones that roam around looking for a mate once a year. I saw a huge one on my now pre teens floor one evening, she was reading on her bed and I was still a little taken aback by it, she wasn’t fazed and said it came out from under her bed from time to time and she hadn't bothered to put it outside, my plan had worked.
We have lots of plants in every room so bugs are a problem especially in the summer, I still can't kill anything even if it’s going to bite me, my children are the same, so we pick up the spiders we find around the house and put them in the plant pots, they are perfect at pest control. They are the cleanest little animals because they never touch our food, just the bugs that eat our food or bite us, we have spiders living in the kitchen cupboards and fruit bowls and if I see them roaming around the kitchen I leave them be.
You might think we are overrun with spiders now but that’s not the case, they live solitary lives so you’ll rarely find more than a couple in each room or cupboard and they are extremely shy, keeping themselves hidden all day silently cleaning my house of unwanted bugs. When we go blackberry picking my children know to pick the ones close to spiders as they will be cleaner, the spider will take care of any bugs trying to get there first, leaving the blackberry untouched. We are lucky enough to have a little outside space to grow fruit and veg, we encourage spiders to keep our crops clean without chemicals. It’s a perfect relationship that benefits everyone.
It wasn’t a quick fix or an easy one but I'm so glad my relationship with spiders has changed, it’s made my life easier, my house cleaner, my children happier and my fruit and veg fresher. So next time you see a spider and you feel the fear, don’t end its life, go a little closer and say “hello little spider”