Pushing a baby out of your body is punishing. We all know this. No one expects to survive it without some war wounds.
I’d heard all the horror stories of saggy tummies and National Geographic boobs. “Your body will never be the same!” is the battle cry of mums across the world.
What I wasn’t expecting was the mental change. As in… I am now MENTAL.
But I’m not alone, am I? (Am I?!?!). All mothers are a tiny bit mental.
Don’t deny it. Admit it darl. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you made it out unscathed. You’re positively barmy and deep down, you know it.
Once you have a tiny human in your care, something irreversible happens to your brain. Not just the baby brain (which, seems to extend beyond pregnancy. Does anyone know when I’ll feel smart again? I miss being smart) and it’s not just the exhaustion. It’s the imagination. The delusions. The over active daydreams/nightmares that make us a teeny bit idiotic.
My friend calls it ‘Worst Case Scenario’. or WCS.
You know what I’m talking about …..
Thud is obsessed with our balcony. He wants to spend all day running out there, watching the tradies working on the house next door and calling out to the dogs running down our street.
I know he’s safe out there. He can not physically fit through the bars, so there’s no chance of him falling down to the street below.
Dunmatta. I’m a mum.
You may see a baby enjoying the sun on the balcony. I see a baby falling off the balcony and landing on the bluestone stairs below, head cracked open, blood sprayed everywhere. I see myself jumping over the balcony after him. I then acknowledge this doesn’t help anyone, so I picture myself racing back inside the house, flying down the stairs and out the front door to scoop my baby up. I wonder how long that would take me. I think about how hysterical I would be. I can literally feel the hysteria snaking up my arms and curling around my chest, squeezing the breath out of me until I want to run at Thud and whisk him inside.
Except he’s so happy. And he’s not in harm’s way. I know this. My brain knows this.
Dunmatta. That’s my baby. I worry he’s going to start climbing up the railing. I know he’s not going to be able to go much higher. But it takes ALL of my logic to override my mum heart.
It’s not just the balcony.
When he was quite little, he was having a hissy fit in his pram, so I took him out for a cuddle. I kept walking with the pram in front of me and stepped on to the escalator. Out of nowhere, I was struck with visions of him struggling to get out of my arms and falling over the side of the escalator, plummeting to the shopping centre floor below.
I had visions of my splattered baby for days afterwards.
Recently I was getting dressed in my wardrobe while he played at my feet. He grabbed hold of a coat hanger and pulled it towards himself with such force that my mind saw the hook plunge deep into his eyeball. My husband had just left for work and I wondered if I’d call him or an ambulance first. I considered googling what you would do if something really was lodged inside your baby’s eyeball… do you pull it out or do you leave that for the doctors? How would I stop Thud trying to pull it out himself? Would I actually be able to do anything or would I simply freeze in shock and horror?
Sometimes I imagine there’s an alternate universe where the worst has actually happened. I can see that poor Alternate Lauren losing her mind with grief and guilt. I convince myself that’s why the visions are so vivid. Because it HAS happened, but to another version of me. That poor, poor Lauren. My heart hurts for her.
I’m not completely insane. I KNOW you do this too.
A normal person sees a toddler walking down a footpath and thinks “oh how cute.” A mother sees the same thing and thinks “he could trip and fall into oncoming traffic and end up flattened and I’ll have to throw myself in front of the next car in grief and then we’ll both be on tonight’s news and my husband will be a tragic widower for the rest of his life or until he finds someone really beautiful who never nags and always makes lovely dinners for him and they start a new family and he takes our photo out of his wallet so he doesn’t upset his new wife and he forgets all about us and only my mother and father will continue to mourn us until they die and then our memory will be gone forever.” For example.
So the next time you see a mum hovering at the park and think “oh relax and let him play,” consider the fact that she’s probably trying desperately to convince herself her child will not swallow a razor blade hidden in the sand and that going down the slippery dip won’t leave him a quadriplegic. Give her a high-five for playing it cool.
I smugly imagined I’d be a super chilled mum who never fussed over her kids, who let them play and explore and didn’t stress about the small things like those psycho helicopter mums. I thought I’d be all “you can’t stop them from living, what will be will be!” Until “what will be” included the possibility of losing my baby. Having my real live baby in my arms was like a smack across my stupid, smug face. Suddenly I understood what it means when people say it’s like having a piece of your heart walk around outside of your body.
Just a few weeks ago I had a woman tell me to my face that I was being hysterical about my child. The director of my son’s daycare centre rolled her eyes (!!) and told me I needed to chill out because I suggested a child could die from falling and hitting their head on these ridiculous rocks they have scattered throughout the play area.
Thing is, I still kind of think I’m right. Who puts big-arse rocks in a toddler’s play area? Grown men die from hitting their head on the pavement. Couldn’t a toddler die from hitting their head on a sharp rock? So when this woman was telling me to deal or leave the centre altogether, I thought my brain was going to explode. I could hear myself saying “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW YOU DUMB BITCH?! THIS IS MY CHILD! HE RUNS FULL FORCE AT EVERYTHING AND FALLS OVER ALL DAY LONG” but stopped myself before I gave Thud lifelong issues. And before I got myself arrested.
But I still don’t know whether I’m being WCS or whether I’m a bit right.
I DON’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE ANYMORE!
So yeah, I’m crazy now and I’ve accepted that. My eyes may see a baby on a balcony or a toddler in a playground, but my heart and mind see baby splat.
For Thud’s sake I hope my brain manages to keep me from screwing him up permanently when I decide I need to give up work and start homeschooling.
JOKES, I would’t do that! I’ll just have to go to school with him so I can keep an eye on him at all times. Don’t worry, I’ll wear a uniform so I blend in with the other kids.
Do you do this too?? Please tell me it’ll get easier as he gets older and I’ll start relaxing?!?!
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