Prior to getting pregnant, I used to think people who spouted lines like “you don’t know what love is until you’ve had kids” should be gathered together under the auspices of a Global Cliché Convention and summarily blown up with a bullshit bomb of their own making.
After all, despite having not made full (any) use of my reproductive organs by the age of 37, had I not recently experienced the ultimate in four-letter-word witchcraft by meeting and marrying the man with whom I would ultimately be going halves on a baby?
I knew ‘love’, thank you very much. It was that stuff spoken of by poets, playwrights and philosophers. It was life! (Leo Buscaglia) It was a single soul inhabiting two bodies! (Aristotle). It was all around us! (Wet Wet Wet).
Now I realise those platitude-proffering parents may have had a point. In fact the only thing more powerful than the unconditional love I feel for the boy nowadays, is the fear I have concerning his continued safety.
For me, ‘love is..’ …. Not being able to sleep at night for imagining your infant child being consumed by pigs during an urban farm petting incident that goes horribly wrong.
That’s right. I’m a worrier. On an industrial scale.
From the moment myself and the hubbie knew we couldn’t be bothered finding anyone better and should therefore get married, we questioned whether we should procreate.
Was it really fair to bring an unsuspecting and non-consenting child into a world where famine, disease, war and The Chuckle Brothers still exist?
Now I wonder whether we did the right thing bringing a child into a world where SWINGS exist.
I see danger everywhere.
Take the Sun for example. No not the red-top-tit-tabloid-shit-fest-junk-journal available from newsagents (although it is responsible for destroying its fair share of lives) but the actual sun.
It’s an eight hundred and sixty five thousand mile-wide mass of burning hydrogen and helium, punting out temperatures that make an atom bomb look like an altar candle.
And that’s in our sky, that is. Above my son’s head. Every day. And I’m meant to take him out in it?!
I liberally apply sun cream, but how can Factor 50 be enough against a burning ball of flames a million times the size of Earth? Surely I need something with an SPF of a WW2 bunker?
But what of the danger of rickets if he doesn’t get enough sunlight? I foresee his little thigh bones softening and bowing until the other kids won’t let him play in goal anymore and he has to give up on his dreams of being the next David Seaman (yes, he retro-dreams – he’s that cool already).
My imagination goes into overdrive. Final Destination-like scenarios play out in vivid technicolour…
Like when I slip over in the shower and my eye socket becomes a fleshy holder for a pointy-topped bottle of Vosene shampoo, penetrating my brain and leaving him to starve to death because his father, who never travels further than five miles to work, happens to be in Australia on business for a month.
(I practise falling at just the right angle so that at least one breast is left hanging over the side of the bath.)
Or the one where during a seemingly innocuous trip to Tesco on a hot day, I put him in the car before returning the trolley, but then am mown down and rendered mute, so whilst I’m on my way to hospital, he boils to death in the back seat like an irresponsibly-owned dog.
(That shit kinda takes the pleasure out of collecting Clubcard Points, let me tell you.)
I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this obsessiveness – I have form. I fold my G-strings in a very particular way. I can’t leave the house in a mess in case we’re burgled and the perpetrator considers me untidy. I worry that my left hand feels left out whenever the right one greets someone new.
I try to share my fears with other mums at playgroup, but many find discussing their brand-new baby’s mortality, when they’re only just discovering the wheels on the bus go round and round, can be a real downer.
“The closer you try to keep them, the further you push them away,” one sage opines. Yeah? Well how do you explain Stockholm Syndrome? Would kidnapping my own son and holding him hostage for his formative years be going too far?
I Google ‘neighbourhoods full of slack-jawed yokels too busy watching daytime TV to notice screams coming from the shithole next door’, but it looks like Rightmove is all out of dungeons this week.
I know I’m not the only one who has such wonky thoughts. A close friend reveals that she’s considering laser eye surgery so she’d be better able to protect her children in the event of the apocalypse. Because there are no free passes for the kids of girls who wear glasses.
Of course, we’re biologically and evolutionarily wired to protect our offspring, even at the risk of sacrificing our own lives (or retinas). And given that the boy is to be our only child, our DNA must really be on tenterhooks as to whether we’ll manage to get him to an age where he can procreate (which is 13 nowadays, right?)
So does all this mean he’s a gibbering wreck of a baby, too fearful to suck his thumb in case he accidentally punctures his own windpipe? Will his first words be ‘just in case’?
I sincerely hope not.
Of all the things I’m at pains to shield him from in life, it is my own (largely) irrational fears that are top of the list. I’m determined to feel the fear and let him crack on anyway, because what is life if not a wonderful and miraculous daily negotiation of things intended to kill us?
And so I concur with the cliché utterers. You can’t wrap children up in cotton wool, can you?
Of course you can’t. It’s a choking hazard.
But bubble wrap with a straw at the mouth hole would be okay, right?