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THE WIFE’S LIFE: 15 THINGS THAT SCARE ME NOW THAT I’M A MOTHER

 

HAVE BABY, GET SCARED

by Elizabeth Beller
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself —FDR
And a bunch of other stuff ME

FDR spoke those words when The United States was in a depression. The unemployment rate at one point ballooned to 25%. In the speech in which he spoke the now iconic phrase, he exhorted the nation to reject “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance”.  This juxtaposition between retreat and advance is something I get. I really do. After his speech, if not as a direct result, the the nation began to prosper under his presidency. But then look what came his fearless way: rapidly deteriorating health through a mélange of mysterious illnesses. Also, Hitler.

I suppose it’s a question of perspective. Retreat or advance?

I’ve never been a particularly brave person, and have been forthright about my love of Ativan.  There was a time in my life when I simply pretended to be brave. And in that wonderful way that pretending can so often lead the pretender into belief, for a time my dissemblance, combined with the inordinate physical strength of one’s teens and 20′s, I did attain an air of insouciance that only the young, with their inability to grasp their mortality, can achieve. Motherhood has jettisoned all that cheeky bravado out the window.

Research shows that women are more likely than men to worry, having made connections between negative events of the past and future possible ones. For our primeval forebears, this was crucial for raising offspring- one always needed to be ready to run from a trampling elephant on the savannah. Yes, in my simple-minded “missing link” attitude, I am always ready to perform the ‘pounce of a lioness’ should real danger threaten my children. But to avoid that necessity, I prefer to hover in the proverbial cave and count the many, many previously innocuous things I now view as a petrifying menace. I know you will make fun of me, as you should. I’m not proud of the following list. But I bet you’ll have something to add to it.

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  • FLYING 1 of 15
    FLYING
    Air travel used to be a fun adventure, a happy jaunt from the daily grind even if for work. Meh, I used to think, if something happens my parents will miss me, but no big loss to the world at large. Now, possibly because of the physical act of bundling little beings you love more than yourself onto a large tin pterodactyl 35,000 feet above ground, I start to get the sweats a good week in advance of checking in.
  • DRIVING 2 of 15
    DRIVING
    A car is no better! Statistically more likely than a plane crash, albeit smaller boxes of tin at a lower altitude. I'm supposed to trust other drivers to stay sober? And not pull a Kerry Kennedy on ambien?
  • KENNEDYS IN GENERAL 3 of 15
    KENNEDYS IN GENERAL
    No explanation needed
  • PAINT CHIPS 4 of 15
    PAINT CHIPS
    Previously appreciated sometimes as a pleasing aesthetic —sort of like the Shabby Chic reinvention of mid-century Parisian ennui. Now the dreaded chips and their resulting dust are purveyors of toxic lead poisoning, and I often run screaming from pre-war buildings in the slightest disrepair.
  • YOUNG MEN IN THEIR 20′S WITH AN AIR OF MENTAL DISTURBANCE 5 of 15
    YOUNG MEN IN THEIR 20'S WITH AN AIR OF MENTAL DISTURBANCE
    I used to see a poor guy that seemed bewildered or emotionally inept to the point of antisocial behavior and feel pity. Unfortunately I now feel abject terror in case he has access to weapons of any kind, but not proper mental health care. The world has changed forever. But good on Obama for making changes to gun laws and health care.
  • GERMS 6 of 15
    GERMS
    Which can turn into colds or flu which can turn to pneumonia, especially in little ones. I know, a little dirt is good for their immune system. But the CDC says it's a highly active year, and the flu vaccine is more feeble than they'd like to admit. Which leads to:
  • VACCINES 7 of 15
    VACCINES
    I know better. We all know better. Probably due to the anticipated screaming, I worry anyway - typical of motherhood. But we all get lollipops afterward, and know we've done the right thing.
  • WEATHER 8 of 15
    WEATHER
    I used to love watching a thunderstorm, preferably on a deck by a body of water. But as I mommy I dread cabin fever in winter storms or searing heat as well as the probable specter of evacuating a hurricane with small children yet again. Weather scares the crap out of me. Which brings me to:
  • CLIMATE CHANGE 9 of 15
    CLIMATE CHANGE
    I've always been concerned. I was the geek who wrote letters to President Carter about the environment and whale slaughtering. Global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy, and to say my concern has taken on new urgency when I try to picture a planet for my children, and all who come after them is a vast understatement.
  • COINS 10 of 15
    COINS
    The whole nature of loose change has... changed. Once upon a time a dime was a phone call and a piece of candy. Then a quarter was a phone call and a piece of candy. Now they are superfluous little choking hazards. Not to mention every other small thing, including every barbie accessory and small lego, from barrettes to carrots to beanie babies (that may burst) to batteries to magnets to balloons to marbles, hard round grapes, beads, uncut hot dogs. They are all my sworn enemies.
  • POOLS 11 of 15
    POOLS
    Kids LOVE them, and swimming is wonderful exercise. Now they are only acceptable if they are gated, covered, and my child is at a (non-dummy) Ryan Lochte level of water prowess.
  • TRAMPOLINES 12 of 15
    TRAMPOLINES
    Again, wonderful exercise and kids love them. I loved them when I was a kid. Actually I still do- they're fun! And they are also the harbingers of most cute pink or fire truck covered casts I've seen over the years.
  • OTHER KIDS 13 of 15
    OTHER KIDS
    They were always just cute little crumb snatchers before I had one. They are still cute as hell, but now have the power to possibly bully, ostracize or hurt my kids feelings. NOT ON MY WATCH!
  • HORMONES IN FOOD 14 of 15
    HORMONES IN FOOD
    Pshaw! I used to live on a diet of Sauvignon Blanc and beef jerky. And I felt fine. After experiencing the extreme hormonal swings of pregnancy, giving birth and lactating, then the subsequent lapse in mental stability, I know how dangerous they are. Plus, I don't want my daughter to get boobs at six years of age. Or my son, for that matter.
  • BEING TIRED 15 of 15
    BEING TIRED
    I'm not talking about the mostly exhilarating ‘badge of honor' tired I felt after a pre-kid workout marathon or 70 hour work week. Being sad, not tired, is for the young. Or Liz Wurtzel. The former of whom deservedly have that time to explore their emotions and then hopefully mature into sentient beings capable of thinking of things other than themselves and their specialness and honesty. The latter perhaps not so deservedly, and who cultivates that time into a personality, several book deals and possibly being the subject of a scathing short work of fiction by David Foster Wallace. Once upon a pre-kid time, I would (very sadly) declare myself tired, but I knew NOTHING. No matter how gruelling the work day, or the evening that followed, I eventually got to go home, even if late at night, and sleep through that night. And get up only for my own morning ritual - which I always found quite restorative. Now I awake to the daily, incessant, Kafkaesque battle of wills to get irrational short people fed, dressed and out the door. What remains of my morning ritual is the equivalent of the hem of a ballgown, a vestigial shred. I'm afraid of the deep maternal exhaustion that reverberates through to the double helix of one's DNA.

 

 

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