Thursday, August 09, 2007

I particulary disliked U-571

Before I had a baby, I considered myself to be a pretty empathetic person. I couldn’t stand to watch war movies, for example, not even war movies about fictional people, because those things have happened to someone, somewhere, at some point, and why can’t we all just get along? Most significantly, when I used to hear news items about children being harmed in some way, I would of course be appalled and make “tsk” noises to myself while feeling terribly sorry for the victims and their parents. But then I would forget about it an go make dinner. Or, more likely, eat the dinner The Husband had made for me.

It’s different now.

I knew, of course, that having a baby would change the way I saw things, but I was unprepared for how I felt upon learning, to take one recent example, that some children had died after their parents administered medicine tainted with glycerin. I immediately – and involuntarily – imagined how I would feel had I given my child medicine that turned out to be poisonous, and I almost threw up.

It’s not as though I obsessively worry over every horrifying thing that might happen to Jack; on the contrary, I consider myself to be a pretty relaxed mom, willing to roll with the punches, and able to stay calm when he falls down and bonks his head. But when I am confronted with true-life stories about babies hurt despite the best efforts of their parents, my stomach clenches up and I have a little trouble breathing for a second or two. It really is like having a piece of myself out there crawling around, and the thought of him being seriously harmed, especially at my own hands as in the case of the tainted medicine, is so horrifying as to be unbearable.

I know that The Husband feels the same way. While we were watching the news recently, a story about a sick baby came on, and we both fell silent. “You’re imaging how it would be if that were Jack, aren’t you?” I asked him, and he nodded, a sick look on his face.

So is this the rest of my life? I guess so, right? I suppose I’ll eventually have the relief of knowing that we are no longer 100% responsible for his health, nutrition, safety and development, but that will bring with it the problem that we will no longer be 100% in control of his health, nutrition, safety and development. Eventually, he’ll be responsible for his own self, and he’ll even have the right to fly in an Ultra-light Trike if he wants to. Or – frightening thought – a hang glider.

I do not mean to imply that parenthood is a depressing downward spiral of worry. Not at all. Just that the joys of parenthood come packaged with a slew of very surprising, very intense emotions. Intense emotions and the unexpected ability to act as a jungle gym, should the need arise. Which it does. Often.


Arwen said...

Amen. Parenting is the most rewarding and the scariest job in the world, I think.

Tracy said...

absolutely. There are stories I won't even read or watch. I can't take it.

I know that I can't protect them from everything - but I can sure try, at least for now.

Carrie said...

It's an awesome responsibility that we've been given. I think it's the good parents that take it seriously, and stop dead in their tracks when they see/hear stories like that. You can't help it. You literally have someone's (or more than one someone) life in your hands. Nothing more fulfilling or rewarding though to have that little person grin at you, or kiss your mouth, or learn a new skill... to know that you taught that skill, or made them feel that emotion. It's a very complex job, parenting!

Kitty said...

now imagine if you were a pediatrician and could imagine every horrible strange disease that your child could have. Yet another reason to put on your list of why you did not go to medical school.