August 22, 2006

What's that FDR line about "Fear"?

A long, rambling Post.
The One Where I Prove This Blog is Really For Me........

When Arun was a scant 3 weeks old, I started going to the breastfeeding support group at my hospital - it's offered on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. It was a NoBrainer decision to begin going - the hospital is a mere minutes away, it offered a great resource for breastfeeding and general baby questions, it gave me the opportunity to weigh Arun on a regular basis, and most importantly, it got me out of the house. Over the months, as I watched mother after mother go back to work when her maternity leave ended, I realized that I needed to make some Social Connections while people were actually still attending. To this end, I started asking people to go Mall Trolling on the alternate Wednesdays. At first, this worked out fine because it was winter anyway and our babies were small. Then, as our babies got older, we started getting together on other days to allow said babies the chance to interact and exchange pathogens. Regardless of which day we are actually meeting, my friend S and I refer to it as the Wednesday group because we must lack some sort of creative gene, I guess. Anyway, when I first started doing all of this, I made a solemn vow to myself to not allow this group to become delicious blog fodder. And we all know what the very best, most delicious of all blog fodder is, don't we? The Snarkastically Delicious kind, of course. But I have fought the Good Fight and resisted temptation.

Yes, I have been Patient. And Good. To the very best of my Blogging Abilities. However, I'd like to post just this once, just a little. ........

The Wednesday group met at my house today and in all honesty, was one of the best gatherings ever. It was SO fun and such a DIVERSE mix of folks because in addition to the Wednesday group, I invited some people that I met through blogging....... Amanda (a regular commenter here who I met because of the Dearly Departed blog, The Rabbit Lived) was there with her son N. Bethiclaus (who I met because we both read Amalah) was there with her daughter Alliclaus (Rancid Tangent: Um, is it kidnapping if it happens in your OWN home? Um, like, if I just happened to maybe "accidently" stash Alliclaus away in a closet, do you think Bethiclaus would notice? Is that against the law? Seriously, that child is one of the sweetest, most delicious babies on the Internet. Check her out. I wonder if Mexican-Americans do the arranged marriage thingamabob like the Indians?? Arun's going to be on the Market before you know it. ) But I digress........Of the Wednesday group, S was there with her daughter A.... M was there with her son..... And finally, C was there briefly with her daughter, BUT she was actually there to introduce her husband R - she is going back to work full-time and her husbad is taking the reins. Yep, we have ourselves a SAHD in the group. Which is very awesome - it's sorta like when WASPs say "Oh, but we have a Jew AND a Lesbian in our social circle" to prove their diversity. Now, we can say we have a DAD in ours! Jealous, much?? Anyway, don't underestimate having a SAHD in your playgroup! In the span of ONE playgroup he showed me where I need to tack down some loose carpeting. So, yeah - it was very cool having a SAHD - he had the Dad's point of view on Parenting and the Husband's point of view on Everything Else.

Okay. Here's where I vent a little. Or a lot. Or maybe not at all. Whatever.

M is a bit of a Nervous Nellie. I have always known this and for the most part, don't really care. But this time? It made me feel uncomfortable for some reason. I mean, I am in my OWN home and yeah, it's not child-proofed to the hilt, but I at least keep the liquor locked up, okay? And yeah, I have some homemade toys around - lentils with rice in a water bottle seemed to really bother her, though. When her son was playing with it, she was quick to take it away from him. Um, NONE of the kids there today were in possession of nearly enough Gross nor Fine Motor skills required to get the bottle open. Furthermore, even if they did? Rice and lentils aren't choking hazards. And I do understand that most folks aren't comfortable with the babygate being on the 4th step, instead of the bottom, so I did move that down, at least. It's not the first time that someone, besides M, has expressed Pressed Lips Quietness at how I do things concerning Baby Safety.

I am very torn on the this whole baby safety thing. Maybe I AM too relaxed. For the most part, we have all toxic things locked/out of reach, we're child-proofing doors/drawers and we've stuffed most outlets with those plastic thingies (hello, Electricity!) but we primarily depend on good old-fashioned Vigilence. Arun goes room to room with me throughout the day. We have an open floor plan to our house that doesn't really lend itself well to any sort of Baby Confinement, anyway and since this whole SAHM thing is my Job, I don't mind having a Shadow. Furthermore, in some areas, I think it is SAFER to teach a child a skill under close supervision, rather than totally cutting off the Danger. For example, Arun is a Champ when it comes to stairs - he can safely go up AND down them. However, does he get free rein? Hell No. Make that a HELL NO. But, I do keep the gate at the 4th step with a pillow at the bottom so that he can get ample practice in the meantime. Is this where I mention that he fell once when the gate was still at the 1st step but he hasn't fallen since?

So, I am not sure why, but M's attitude today really bothered me. REALLY.BOTHERED.ME. Perhaps, babyproofing goes a lot further than just keeping your baby safe and that it taps into something much deeper ? A Mother's Worst Nightmare Come True? I do think that M would be surprised to know I am actually a very fearful person. I call it the Rising Paranoia in the Back of Your Throat and FUCK, it's always there. ALWAYS THERE. And as a mother, I see it as one of my primary responsibilities to constantly beat it the FUCK DOWN.

Folks, on a daily basis, I have to tell myself that everything is going to be okay. That my India-born husband is going to be okay even though he travels all the time and is subject to the Risk of Idiocy that comes with having Brown Skin and a Green Passport in this country. I comfort myself knowing that at least he speaks fucking good English and we have a Christian last name, as Curious that may seem (Christians? In India?!?!).

When I get in the car??? I have to tell myself that fatal car crashes are actually rare and how many people do I know that have actually been in one? One. J's husband - which still shakes me to the core. But to that end, I did buy the Ridiculous Carseat for Arun.

When I fly in an airplane??? God, I am afraid. Yes, I just typed that - the person who travels ALL THE TIME and has taken her 10 month old son on SIX airplane trips, coast-to-coast, thus far. Every time the plane TAKES OFF and LANDS, I do a bit of what I like to call Reflection and I renew my faith in God.

When I wake up at 3:00 AM for Whatever Reason and X is out of town??? I have to talk myself from the Ledge that tries to convince me that someone is breaking in to my home. And this happens at least once, every time X is out of town.

The Greatest Fear of All? The one in which ALL mothers are in possession? The fear of dying before your child even knows Who You Are?? Enter J's Husband. Enter my own grandfather, my dad never knew him because he died when my dad was a baby. It is one of the very reasons why I continue to blog even though I will never be a Power Blogger and I will never get tons of "Love you, love your blog" comments. I feel safe blogging because I know that if I DO die tomorrow, I can hold fervent to the belief that someone I know will print all this blather into hard copy so that Arun can see that while I appreciated a nicely executed Run-On Sentence, Good Sarcasm and Foul Language, that I did love him more than just about anything but his Daddy, which is saying VOLUMES because I love his Daddy A LOT. Actually, maybe it's even a tie between those two.

Damn, the list could go on and on and on regarding how fearful I am - I didn't even cover my paranoias concerning raw chicken. The point is, I don't want to pass these Fears to my son. The successful, productive members of our society are not Fearful People. People who are afraid usually accomplish not.much.at.all. I want my son to Live. And for that, I have to constantly stuff my fears deep inside. And I will keep the gate on the 4th step. And I won't buy the toilet lock. And I will hold firm to the fact that we have NO history of food allergies and that even though clams LIVE in the sea, they are not, in fact SEAFOOD. And I will continue to depend on my elbow to determine the water's temperature. And I will let him ride a bike. Someday. And I will get him a passport so that we might go to India where GODKNOWS what sort of germs might lie in wait and where for sure, carseats are not fashionable. And I might, just MIGHT, let him play football, even though I would rather he'd hunker down with some Harry Potter...............

So, this evening when I picked Arun off the floor to give him a kiss and immediately got a pungent whiff of cat food on his breath, what else could I do but laugh?


Frank Herbert, Dune
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

13 comments:

Christine said...

We have the toilet locks. But only to prevent one of us from having to fish some beloved object out of said toilets.

Interesting post. We're having a party in a couple of weeks and I'm debating inviting the mother's group for this reason. Because they'll come to our house and see that we don't have everything locked up, and I let my kid run around with a cheese grater, and when he pulled the knife out of the dishwasher and held it over the dog I got a picture before I took the knife away. And I'm terrified the woman who went on and on about how carefully she keeps everything clean for the baby at home will come to our house and seizure.

Love you, love your blog.

Leah said...

I am a lazy person and so almost never comment, but I love you, love your blog, and read you all the time through bloglines.

Just wanted to say thanks for posting this. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who is terrified to leave the house, drive the car, fly, etc. - but too stubborn to actually give in to any of it.

Jane said...

Awesome post!

As one of those (tsk, tsk) people with no kids, my house is the polar opposite of "childproofed."

I've had friends bring over kids who have pulled down my towel racks, yanked all my CDs out of the organizer, taken the (unlit) candles out of the fireplace, etc., etc., but it's so not a big deal. All that stuff is fixable and as long as we're watching the kids so that nothing dangerous happens. That's really the key.

Diana said...

Damn! Once again, you said it for me. Your baby proofing sounds completely like mine, except I had the baby gate at the bottom as it was easier for me to step over at that level. Anybody have a problem with it? Watch your kid closer. Mine are good.

I should have a toilet lock, though, for the pets. Tired of finding sopping, fished out kleenex (a la kitty) on the bathroom floor and having the dog dribble toilet water all over the tile.

And, yes. Love you, love your blog. Always have. Smooch.

Flybunny said...

I love this post - you put my feelings exactly into words. I always run the worst case scenarios through my mind - for all different situations but I haven't let it paralyze me.

I am with you on the child proofing, we didn't go over board just the basics primarily because I couldn't figure out how to work some of the locks.

My kids ate everything they weren't supposed to earlier than we probably should have let them but they (including the dreaded peanut butter)and they fared pretty darn good but my SIL who is a freak about such things still will not let my 5 yr old nephew eat popcorn OR grapes - it is crazy!

I love you and love your blog even though I don't comment all the time, I read every post!

EEK! said...

If you completely Baby Proof, you're missing primo guilt opportunities later on. Tsk Tsking over shattered lamps and hours crouched over superglue and a weird ivory statue of a vaguely sinister Chinese dude - the Tour of Broken Objets was more popular in my childhood home than nekkid baby pictures. Then there was the time my stepgrandparents committed insurance fraud by blaming some broken vases on my brother, when we all watched the cat break them one by one. Good times in Shardland!

Modern Day Hermit said...

What a wonderful post! Our house is also an open floor plan and we have one gate that is used at the stairs (on the 2nd step). As long as there is nothing boiling away on the stove, he's allowed to follow.

It is my view that if I am visiting a person's home, it is not their job to baby proof their home to my standards, it's my job to watch my child.

I, too, worry about all things you mentioned. Especially the driving bit (my husband was in an accident and I almost sent Alex with him, well, the backseat was gone and the carseat base was mush after that was said and done) but I think it is so important to not shelter a person too much. And, as hard as it is, to allow them to do things and learn with guidance so that when they are no longer under your wing they can make decisions with confidance.

By the way, I feel your pain on being worried about your husband. On the morning of 9/11 my then-husband and I were driving to work and some asshole tried to run us off the road! On the freeway. At about 70mph. Because, you know, he's all brown-and-stuff, he must be a terrorist. Jackass. Some people...right in the kisser.

Susan said...

First of all, love you, love your blog.

Second, maybe the liquor cabinet should have been UNlocked yesterday - loosen up that tightlipped M. Some people just need to unclench.

Third, you hit on all of my major fears. The one that surprised me the most since becoming a mother was the fear of something happening to me. I knew I would fear for my baby, which I do constantly. But the possibility that I won't always be there to love her and care for her in the way that only I can, terrifies the daylights out of me.

dorothy said...

Will you marry me?

Brit said...

I hear you and I will print out your blog in book form for your little guy. I swear it is one of the reasons I blog too. What if something happens to me and they don't know how much I love them everyday? How often I wake in the night and have to check to make sure tehy are breathing...because even worse than dying before they know me? Is them leaving me.

also re: playgroups. One woman came to my house for playgroup once and brought her own bacterial wipes and proceeded to wipe down all the toys' her kid played with. Niiice. OF course she let's her kids watch violent movies and he is the one that taught all our sons to kick each other...isn't it Ironic?

Goofy Girl said...

Good post! I think this is something that all Moms struggle with...how to balance paranoia with simple safety. It's a tough tightrope to walk.

Re: germs - While traveling this past week, I saw a lady with a baby-in-stroller that actually had a hand-written sign taped to the front stating, "Do Not Touch the Baby". I wasn't sure what to think about this. At first I was taken aback. WTF? Maybe I don't even want to touch your freaky baby. Then I thought, well, it IS her right afterall. Live and let live. But overkill? I think Maybe So.

As a final note, most Daddies (not wanting to stereotype here) are more relaxed about the safety thing, so maybe that SAHD will have some diluting effect on the Wednesday group. Especially M. Good luck!

CPA Mom said...

Rock on sister! I love-cubed this post. a note of caution for you (from an absolute stranger, I KNOW, what BALLS I have) we have NO history of allergies in my family and my son is DEATHLY allergic to all manner of food. PLEASE for the love of all things holy (including ChickyChickyBaby margaritas) don't be blase about allergies.

Lisa said...

What an awesome blog! Just found you accidentally...did a google search on "impending doom"...gonna bookmark you!
And wish I lived in KC so I could knit with you and your group, instead of boring sunny SoCal.