Prior to becoming a mother, I considered myself to be somewhat of a daredevil. A risk taker. An adrenaline junkie. I have been bungee jumping twice and I've jumped off piers and dived off sides of some very questionable cliffs and dated, you know, some pretty suspect individuals. Then I made the silly decision to go ahead and procreate. Suddenly I realized that being a mom makes you realize danger's all around us, and it is you guys. It so, so is. Lurking around every sinister coffee table corner. Hiding behind an uncovered electrical outlet. Somehow in the handle of a harmless spoon because my son doesn't understand that it's not plastic and it will, in fact, hurt him if he hits himself with it. The world is just one giant pit of potential pain.
Now, it is worth mentioning that being concerned on a daily basis (and baby proofing the you-know-what out of every home you have, even when your baby is a toddler) is very different from postpartum anxiety and/or suffering from intrusive thoughts. If you're so afraid for your safety and the safety of your child that you can't sleep, can't go outside, don't want to eat and don't want anyone to touch your baby, a bigger problem is afoot and you need to seek the help and support you so very much deserve. However, if you are like me and you just realize that your baby (and eventually, your toddler) has made the earth one big, round, rotating danger zone; welcome to motherhood.
There are very few things I can't stand and/or fear more than seeing my son in pain. I also know it's inevitable, and part of being human. I don't want to be an overprotective mother and I don't want to be a helicopter parent and I don't want to rob my son of freedom or certain experiences or the wonderful urge to explore. But it's hard to balance those desires with the constant need to make sure my son is safe. In the end, I can only do my absolute best while succumbing to the undeniable realization that the world is scary. It's also wonderful. So, with that in mind, here are just a few ways motherhood turns you into one big, giant ball of fear. Thanks, kid.
Everyone Likes To Tell Horror Stories...
Honestly, the writers of American Horror Story don't need to keep coming up with new storylines that push the boundaries of television; they just need to sit in on any mom's group and listen to some of the news stories that are regurgitated. Everyone almost has this need to talk about that one horrific thing they read about or heard about or even witnessed. It's almost as if, in order to continue to go out into the world with our children by our side or in our arms, we have to process the information by openly discussing it. In detail. Frequently. With everyone.
It's the worst.
...And About The Most Random, Seemingly Harmless Things
Most of the stories you'll hear about kids getting seriously hurt involve something completely random and usually harmless. It makes what anyone would consider to be "normal" (like taking your kid to an amusement park or putting your kid in the car or giving your kid a toy that seemed safe, but is now being recalled) suddenly terrifying. You'll literally want to just stick your kid in a bubble and let them play with bubble wrap because that seems to be the only way you can completely guarantee your kid's safety.
Accidents and being a human being go hand-in-hand, so no matter what you do you can't completely avoid pain or sadness or heartache or disappointment. As an adult, responsible for yourself and yourself alone, this is unsettling. When you're an adult responsible for not only yourself, but another human life, this is paralyzing. Learning that you can't keep your kid from getting hurt (even when you know experiencing pain is a necessity and in so many ways, actually beneficial) is difficult, at best.
I mean, I don't know about you, but easily one of the hardest parts about being a mother (for me) is wrestling with two undeniable facts: I would do anything I possibly could to keep my kid from feeling an ounce of pain, but I know I can't be overprotective and, in the end, he needs to know and experience what it truly means to be human. Ugh.
...And You Notice Them More Frequently
Remember back in high school (or college), when you dated someone that owned, say, a red truck? Then, suddenly, all you see on the road were red trucks? I mean, they were always there, but you started noticing them everywhere (and it only got worse when you and this red truck owner broke up). Yeah, replace high school with motherhood and the red truck with danger, and that's what it's like to be a mom.
Suddenly, every "accident" you've ever heard or read about, is a potential accident waiting to happen and you're seeing them possibly play out like a scene from Final Destination. That kid who got their hand caught in a door? Yeah, now you're afraid of doors. Nothing is safe, my friends. Nothing.
Your Kid Likes To Test All The Things, Like Gravity
I'm usually a pretty big fan of gravity, if I'm being honest. It keeps me on the ground, for one, and I would have a hard team eating the foods I enjoy eating if gravity wasn't a thing. I don't test it all that often so it doesn't necessarily hurt me in any way, so me and gravity are pretty good buddies. Or, you know, we were.
Now? Yeah, now gravity is the worst because my kid doesn't seem to believe in it. He'll jump off couches and beds and dive off playground equipment and I'm constantly experiencing severe heart palpitations. While I appreciate that gravity keeps us all grounded (literally), I would really appreciate it if science didn't, you know, pose so many dangers. Science.
Kids Can Turn Harmless Things Into Absolutely Dangerous Things
I've never realized just how dangerous corners of a coffee table could be. Or outlets. Or dimes. Or a colored pencil. Or even a blanket. Even spoons. I mean, these are run-of-the-mill household items that become substantially more dangerous when you have a child around them.
I have had to baby proof and toddler proof two apartments since becoming a mother, and each time I am amazed at what I now consider to be unsafe.
Your Mind Actually Visualizes Horrible Things Happening For A Very Specific Purpose
In the end, we can blame science. Turns out, mothers will envision something horrific happening to their baby in order to create and foster that maternal instinct that urges them to protect their baby at all cost. Those random thoughts you have that kind of make you want to stay in your house forever? Yeah, it's a biological reaction that helps you bond with your baby and prepares you to protect them, should the need actually arise.
Motherhood Makes You Realize How Little Control You Actually Have Over Life
Naively, of course, I've spent the majority of my life feeling like I'm somewhat in control. Yes, I have experienced some pretty terrible reminders that, in the end, there are very few things I can command in my own life and the lives of those I care about. Still, it wasn't until I had a baby that I had to come to terms with the fact that, yep, I really have no power over much of anything at all. Existence is random and things happen for no discernible reason and we're all just trying our best to get through every single day in one piece and to the best of our ability.
Then again, the randomness of life is what makes it so beautiful and enjoyable. While it would ease the majority of our worry and anxiety (as parents and as human beings) if we knew absolutely everything that will happen to us before it actually happens, it would also create a boring and complacent existence, at best. I can't protect my son from everything and, honestly, I shouldn't. He deserves the opportunity to live life to the fullest, and that means I have to come to terms with the fact that, yes, danger is all around us. But so is beauty. So is love. So is happiness. So are all the wonderful things that make life worth living.