Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition

I’ve had an overwhelming feeling of dread/free-floating anxiety for a few weeks now. I know myself well enough to know that it is probably at least partly due to the change of seasons. Even though my work schedule doesn’t change, I just hate to see summer end and the days get increasingly shorter. If it is possible for Seasonal Affective Disorder to hit in early fall, then I officially diagnose myself as S.A.D.

But it’s more than that. It’s a feeling of having it too good and fearing it will end. And no, I’m not talking about my new dining room table or my leather sofa. I mean my monkeys. My husband. My extended family. My friends. I don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone of them. Ever.

And that’s just not possible, is it?

I read an essay ("Holding Baby Birds") about a little girl getting run over by her school bus in front of her house in the last issue Brain, Child, and it’s been haunting me. The monkeys just love running out into the street. Thankfully we live on a dead end with not a lot of traffic, but in a way this makes me fear for them even more. They will be so used to light traffic that they will just carelessly run out and…SMACK!

There are kids just a few doors down who spend the majority of their time out in the street riding bikes, walking, playing ball, etc. They don’t appear to be too much older than the monkeys. When I see them out it makes me feel silly, over-protective. I think about streets in other countries where there is a constant threat of being shot or terrorized or worse. Streets where going outside to play isn’t an option. This of course makes me feel grateful to live where I do, but makes me feel somehow guilty about my anxiousness.

Satchel is old enough to understand rules and will follow them for the most part. I feel he could be trusted to look both ways and to stay on the sidewalk, but I also know that he could very easily get caught up in chasing a ball or a bug and then SMACK!

Jiro doesn’t understand rules. He can repeat them and nod and pretend like he does, but he doesn’t. Rules are just a game, and the best part of the game for him, is testing the limits of the rules. It’s frightening really. I’d say 90% of the time he is just fine, but there’s that 10% that keeps me up at night.

Normally I can push my fears down and go on with my day, but lately they refuse to stay put. Even just driving in general is causing me concern. Statistically, getting in my car and driving to work or school or the store or anywhere, is a very dangerous. And I do it multiple times every single day. As I drive along, I can’t help thinking about someone running into me out of nowhere. Will I have the kids in the car? Or will someone hit Warren? Will he have the kids in the car? Will we all be together? How would I raise the kids without Warren? What would I do if one of the monkeys got killed? What if we all lived, but just barely, kind of like in “The World According to Garp?”

I can’t stand these thoughts.

I want them to go away.

Here, Internet, take them!

p.s. I also read an essay (Close Encounters with Kindermusik) in Brain, Child about an ultra-environmentally conscious mama with a serious case of OCD who deconstructed the Kindermusik program in her town in a way that just made me feel like a little free-floating anxiety wasn't so bad after all.


RJA said...

I can't imagine this feeling is new for you. I think the term for it is parenthood and it started for me the second Big Mama said "I'm pregnant" (the first time).

If you weren't such a good parent, you wouldn't even notice the anxiety.

Courtney said...

beautiful. for me writing is better than any anti-anxiety meds or special light to keep me from being blue in the winter. thank God for words.


Kristy said...

I think we all have phases where those fears become stronger and harder to ignore. And the happier we are, the more we have to lose, the more acutely we sense the potential for loss. To a certain extent it's just something we have to come to terms with and push back into the darkest corners.

On the other hand, you have to teach that baby not to run into the street, and possibly by any means necessary, because it's not irrational to think he could and probably will get hit if he thinks it's a game to run out into traffic!

RJA said...

Or, you know, the anxiety could just be caused by all the blow you guys do at work.

Dr. Dubie said...

Spanish Inquisition...I don't get it. I think your subconscious is telling you that you need a change of environment. Your early-onset S.A.D. is a symptom of your repressed desire for higher latitudes. I think you need to move to Alaska, then you will only need to worry about Jiro getting run over by a moose.

Kaleigh said...

I mostly agree that some level of anxiety is pretty normal with parenthood. I have jags in which I have horrible nightmares about my daughter dying (in strange ways). Never have those dreams about my son, just my girl.

But I would be remiss if I didn't say that if this anxiety is getting in the way of living (you mentioned driving becoming an issue), do talk to someone. Besides Dr. Google. Because he'll totally make you think your kids have leukemia (I promise, it's a true story).

Candice said...

I've noticed an increase in these types of feelings since we found out we were having a baby. They've increased a little more since having him. So I agree, it must be parenthood.
Having said that, the driving part may not be quite as bad for those living in cities with better drivers than we have here in Memphis!

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