I’m not sure why, but for my entire life (that I can remember) I’ve had a strange compulsion to imagine disasters and my reaction to them. It’s some sort of weird desire to be prepared, I think. I can remember as a kids lying in bed at night, saying my prayers that included no deaths, no fires, no robberies (weird, right?) and then trying to picture each scenario in my head to plan for what I would do in each. I had a known fire route from the house, a known location for a bat to hit an intruder and I already knew too well I could survive someones death and I figured my own would be a piece of cake since I’d be the one gone so all was good. I slept well every night.
The result when I was young was that I wasn’t scared of much. (Another result is that I probably needed a significant amount of therapy to understand what the hell was wrong with me that I even had this habit, but that’s a story for another day.) Up until I had kids, I was the girl you wanted in a crisis-prepared, calm and together.
Since I’ve had kids, nearly everything has changed. I’m actually still pretty good when, as they say, shit gets real. I mean, I can mend any wound, organize in a disaster and advocate in chaos better than most people I know. In crisis? I’m still your girl.
But, what has changed is that I’m now often wracked with anxiety about situations that may or may never happen. It seems no matter how well I do in real world crisis, in my imagination, I will never be enough to take care of my babies.
I lay in bed now and worry about fires and how I’m going to get to each bedroom quick enough to carry my kids out. (I’m not sure when they stopped being able to walk on their own.) I walk into crowded shops with my kids and worry that if there is an armed robbery and I have all three kids with me, I won’t be able to shield them in time. I can’t even watch medical shows sometimes because if there are sick kids in the episode it does me in, as I weep for my own, perfectly healthy, children. And forget about well written books? I’ve been known to abandon more than one child-trauma novel.
What the hell?
How did becoming a mother make me even more crazy? How did parenting cause my already over-active imagination to go into overdrive to the point where every terrible situation I see, hear or read about becomes palpable?
I know I’m a loon most of the time, but this particular brand of crazy has even got me stumped.
I’m hoping I grow out of it before anyone starts driving. Oh, the horror!
This post was inspired by Afterwards: A Novel by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children’s school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arsonist as her teenage daughter lies in a coma in this book. (You might imagine this book nearly broke me!) JoinFrom Left to Write on April 11 as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.