Sorry, kids. This is not a sexy post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, which isn’t always a good thing. And one of the things I’ve been thinking about is my kids, so I hope you’ll indulge me as I devote my post today to them. You see, they’ve both had their challenges this year, whether of the scholastic or the emotional variety, and I’ve tried very hard to be strong for them.
However, when they’re not in the room, I want to fall apart if I see they’re hurting. Now, aside from my turbulent teenage years, I’ve never been much of a crier. But when it comes to my boys, it appears I can cry at the drop of a hat.
When did I become this person? This woman who worries and over thinks and wonders?
There was never a time when I considered myself particularly fearful. I must admit, I don’t think it’s a useful trait for a mother. After all, with children in the house, one will invariably be asked to corral and remove creepy crawlies, to say nothing of bandaging wounds that would make a Civil War soldier suffer from the vapors. I can deal with most of the bumps and bruises, but the spiders? You might as well ask me to walk into the valley of death.
You see, since birthing my two sons, now aged ten and twelve, I have become wimpy. I can only blame motherhood for this disconcerting transition. Having a family scared the crap out of me.
Once, I was fearless. I rode roller coasters, watched terrifying movies and swam in murky lakes. I was familiar with every nook and cranny of the downtown Toronto area and wandered at will. I experimented and stretched myself and tried. I often failed and sometimes succeeded. I enjoyed so many things that now frighten me.
My only reasoning for these sometimes unrealistic fears is becoming a mom opened me up to a new plane of feeling. When I gave birth to my sons, my heart began to pound a different beat. On seeing the faces of my two babies for the first time, I felt things I’d never felt before. I loved in a way I’d never dreamed possible. As a new mother, one aches and is laid bare, becoming totally raw and vulnerable over a squawking, swaddled child.
I learned there is nothing scarier than thinking something untoward might happen to that child, or to the world in which he exists. Thus, real fear entered my life.
I’ll never forget the first time I rode a roller coaster after giving birth. I’d never had problems with them before, but on this particular day, I screamed so loudly one might have sworn Ted Bundy was riding next to me. It wasn’t pleasurable in the least. And if I recall correctly, the epithet that erupted from between my quivering lips was, “Dear God! Let me see my babies again!”
I also became much more impressionable with respect to my entertainment choices. While pregnant with my first son, I’d been troubled by horrible dreams of an invisible assailant attacking the child in my womb. This fear lasted after giving birth. Now I can’t watch those TV shows about serial killers. Nuh uh. No way. I’ll have nightmares. I’ll get hives. It ain’t pretty.
Don’t even get me started on feelings. My feelings are unpredictable now, zapping me from out of nowhere. The puppies and kitties on the humane society TV commercials make my chest heave with strange emotion. If a child character in a movie so much as scrapes his knee, I am distraught. My husband cackles when we watch Long Island Medium, because the show sends me into convulsions of tears when I see people being “reunited” with dead loved ones.
So has motherhood changed me for the better or worse? I do sometimes wonder. Of course, all the scary moments in the world will never outdo the simple joy of receiving a smile from one’s baby. All the horrors of the universe will never diminish the purity of a child saying, “I love you, Mom.” Motherhood has given me an unending sense of pride and unfathomable delight. And I’ve learned to shelve my wimpy side here and there. In fact, if anyone so much as looks at my kids the wrong way, I want to pick up a baseball bat, and say De Niro-style, “You wanna piece of me?”
Is this really just a mother thing? I don’t know. I’d bet anyone with a strong connection to another living soul can become just as deranged as I am under the right circumstances.
I have noticed one positive lately. Now my sons are old enough, at least they can kill their own damn spiders.