Motherhood opens your mind to its own dark recesses, ones you never knew were there. Even within the first few minutes of having Baby Brown Bear, I started worrying. I worried that he was cold, that he wouldn’t be able to do the baby-led crawl to the breast, that he was pooping too much on me (the latter to which the answer is probably always a yes).
I used to think my grandma worried too much when she told me to be careful about the most ridiculous things. “Be careful when opening your plastic Easter eggs because they could slice your fingers!” Um, okay.
I also saw how much my mom worried, especially once I moved away from home. Granted, it was probably smart of her to be worried about my 18-year-old idiotic self. Still, it never seemed to end. And hasn’t to this day. “Yes, Mom, there are other people riding the ‘L’ with me at 4:00 p.m.”
Then I became a mother and I suddenly understood.
Even though my baby is not even a year old, I can only imagine how nervous I’ll be when he starts to become more independent. Driving? By HIMSELF?! Forget it.
While my imagination has always been colorful, the most irrational fear I had before baby was one of snakes. Motherhood, on the other hand, has brought to light a whole host of things I never realized I needed to worry about. Though, to be fair, the thought of snakes anywhere near Baby Brown Bear is especially horrifying.
In the last eight months, at least three scary scenarios have popped into my head each day regarding the safety of my baby and/or me. While I think it’s important to be aware of our surroundings and mindful of the people nearest us, I do have the tendency to take things a little far and worry about the unlikeliest of issues.
On the more realistic end of what I’m talking about, I recall that on our first stroller walk after Baby Brown Bear was born, I yelled at Papa Bear to push the stroller with two hands. “You drive a car with two hands. Why on Earth wouldn’t you drive our baby’s stroller with two hands?” In my mind, the tire would hit a sidewalk crack at an angle, jolt uncontrollably, and roll into oncoming street traffic. Even though there are about six feet of grass between the sidewalk and the street.
But that’s pretty tame compared to what I really mean.
Top Three Irrational Fears Thus Far, or, Why My Brain Needs a Chill Pill
From what I can remember (and there’s a lot of baby-induced memory loss going on here), below are probably the top three most irrational, improbable situations I’ve envisioned since Baby Bear was born.
3. Strangers throwing acid on my baby.
I remember this one clearly. Baby Bear and I were walking with the stroller when he was about two months old. At the time, he was still in his car seat attachment, so he was facing me. As we walked past a laundromat, I saw two people on the sidewalk in front of us with their backs turned. Before I knew it, I pictured these people waiting until we walked by, then lunging forward and heaving hydrochloric acid into the stroller. Of course, I then tried to figure out how I would intercept the throw and block the acid with my own skin. Then this led me to think about how this would likely incapacitate me for long enough for the acid throwers to steal the baby. Would I be able to crawl and tackle them? Call 911? Would anyone on the street help me or would it be a Kitty Genovese situation? Dammit, I’ve always hated doing laundry and this is probably why.
2. A ghost haunting Baby Bear’s bedroom at night.
Luckily for us, Baby Brown Bear is a pretty amazing sleeper (knock on wood this continues). His naps can be hit or miss, but his nighttime sleep is one for the books. That’s why, on the rare occasions when he wakes up screaming, I naturally wonder if he’s not being haunted by a malevolent ghost. What else would cause him to go from zero to 60 in the course of 10 seconds?
As soon as this thought initially occurred to me, I had to wake up my husband because I could be thinking it alone in the dark. Then I felt bad that I didn’t rush into the baby’s room because, if he really were being haunted by a ghost, shouldn’t I be the one to save him and send it away? In the time it took me to think through all these things, he stopped screaming. It must have been a friendly ghost who just scared him by showing up unexpectedly, I guess. Carry on, affable spirit.
[Source: My own pitiful, adult self]
1. A zombie apocalypse occurring while we are away from home.
As Baby Bear and I were packing to leave for a trip to Denver without Papa Bear, I was suddenly seized with fear. What if, while we were gone, the zombie apocalypse broke out? I’ve already
read too much about zombies thought about this kind of situation before, but not since I had the baby. Obviously there were several things to consider: 1. How would I communicate with my husband and family when the world’s communications systems stopped working?; 2. Would I be able to keep my six-month-old quiet or would he immediately attract all the zombies around us with his cries and babble?; 3. Would my husband be able to escape Chicago or would the city be too overrun when he realized he needed to leave? Assuming he wouldn’t be a sure goner, I had to plan. (Note: I never once doubted my own survival skills. This girl is prepared.)
Since the zombies in my mind are of the Max Brooks variety (i.e., sluggish and slowed down by cold), I threw together a rough strategy. Given that I had only one night before we left, it would have to suffice. When my husband came home that evening, I told him our plan: we’d reconvene in the countryside outside of Winnipeg since it was far enough north that the zombies would freeze in the winter and was situated roughly half way between Denver and Chicago. To which he responded, “Wait, what plan is this?”
I’d like to say that over time these bizarre thoughts will fade, but if I’m honest with myself, I know better. In fact, I’m sure they’ll just become even stranger and more irrational.
But you know what? If they help me over prepare, I’m all for it. After all, I’m signed up for the long haul no matter what.
What are some of your strangest and most irrational fears?