Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Get It Honest

No one can worry like a mother, right?  And my mother is the queen of them all.  When I fly anywhere, she worries that my plane will fall out of the sky.  When I drive to see her in Nashville, she worries that my car will be totaled in a terrible accident.  When she hears a sniffle over the phone, she asks me about my "cold" and how it's doing for the subsequent three months.  When I rented an apartment, she worried that I didn't own a home, and when I bought a house, she worried that I would become trapped and maybe I should rent.  And don't even get started on the dating days.

I am a mother myself, and grappling with my own worry about my preshuss snowflakes is definitely one of the hardest parts of the job.  The funny thing is, the bulk of my worrying time (much like my mother's) is spent worrying about highly unlikely, catastrophic disasters.  I suppose the more mundane, more likely worries are too hard to draw close, and so I push them away by occupying myself with ridiculous notions of danger.

I worry that they will electrocute themselves in the bath.  Every time I draw a bath, I check the whole room for plugged in electronics.

I worry that they will stop breathing when they sleep.  Each morning when I go upstairs to wake them, I wince a bit until I see their chests move up and down, up and down.

I worry that they will pull knives down off the kitchen counter onto themselves.  This happened to Jake one time - before I knew he was tall enough to reach the counters, suddenly there he was feeling overhead and grasping the edge of a cutting board.  A large kitchen knife slid down the board toward his face, and only my lightning fast mom reflexes saved him from getting a heavy, sharp point in his little bald baby head.  That ruined me forever after, and four years later I still push knives off the cutting board and to the back of the counter.

Speaking of eyes, I worry that they will trip while holding a fork and poke out an eye.  I worry that they will fall off their chair while eating dinner and put a fork in an eye.  I worry that they will just be playing around at dinner (as they often do) and carelessly put a fork in an eye.  The integrity of their beautiful, wee little eyes keeps me up nights.

I worry that they will fall down the stairs.  Cubby has fallen down the stairs, top to bottom - he talks about that fall a lot, even though it happened last summer when he was only one year old.  Apparently when children fall down stairs, they bounce right back.  Nevertheless, I worry.

I worry that they will lean against the baby gate, which we keep on the deck steps outside, and that it will suddenly give way and they will fall down those stairs and into the grass.  What occupies me about this particular scenario is the possibility for little fingers to become trapped in the little fencing bit of the gate and possibly get bent back or broken during the fall.

I worry that they will stop breathing while I'm driving and they're sitting behind me in the car seat.  I check them in the rearview mirror pretty regularly while I drive, always preparing, preparing myself for the worst.

I worry that when I am holding them in my arms while we walk around the second story of a mall, or an outdoor condo or hotel railing, or some sort of open air area, that I will suddenly fling them over the edge in a spastic, involuntary movement that sends them hurtling out into the open air.

I worry that they will be hit by flying debris flung from the back of a parade.  I worry that they will disappear into a crowd and won't be able to find me.  I worry that balconies will fall out from under them, or that railings will give way when they lean on them.  I worry that if they get too close to my office window on the 22nd floor, that it will suddenly pop out and a current of air will whisk them out and down, down, down, and I will have to jump out after them.

I worry that they will go over to a friend's house, and his parents will step out for a few moments, and he will pull out his dad's gun "just to show you."

I worry that a tiger will escape the zoo and pick them up in his enormous paws.  I worry that a rattlesnake will crawl up out of the wooded lot beside us and chase them down, fangs bared.  I worry that a spider will crawl into their beds at night, bite their little pudgy feet, leave them gangrenous, swollen, falling off.  I worry that they will catch leprosy, tuberculosis, pertussis, measles.  I worry every time they have a fever that in a few weeks I will be bereft, clutching a sodden tissue and saying "I thought it was just a fever!  I didn't know it was THE END!"

I worry that they will stop breathing while I am still breathing, and then I will have to learn to breathe air in a world in which they do not exist.  And so I fixate on the worries that are easiest to brush aside, and tell myself how foolish I am for thinking of them.  I laugh at my silliness, and think Of course they're safe.  Of course they are.  There are no tigers running rampant.  You have never met a single person who poked his eye out with a fork when he was a kid.  You have never spastically flung a solitary thing over a balcony in your life.  Be rational.

They are protectable.  I can protect them.  As long as I check for plugged in hairdryers, secure baby gates, kitchen knives, and vaccinations, they will be safe.  So I am vigilant.  I am careful.  I am watchful, thorough, swift.

And I am constantly - forever and ever from the minute I knew they were going to be born - worried.

1 comment:

Caki said...

I was laughing, laughing, laughing at your ridiculousness until I got to the part where you would have to learn to breathe air in a world in which they do not exist, and now I'm crying. Love does funny things to you doesn't it?