There are lots of feelings that a person simply cannot experience until they become a parent. I probably would have scoffed at this notion when I was a single, selfish goofball, but now I know that it is true.
I have never known joy like this.
I have never known love like this.
I have never known diaper explosions like this.
I have never known fear like this.
My fear is specific. It goes beyond the average, run-of-the-mill turn your blood cold and keep you up all night worry that routinely accompanies us parents. Worry I can handle.
I fear that I will get sick. I fear that I will get sick, and leave my children too soon.
I fear that I will get cancer. I fear this every day.
To combat this fear I have begun to ritualize my days, fearing that if I do not stick to these commitments, my fear will come true. That I must regiment the what, and how, and why and where of my body and my environment, or it will get me.
To combat this fear I have been cooking for my family. Very delicious, but most importantly, very healthy meals.
I have devised my own list of super-foods, and I must consume as many, if not all of them on a daily basis. So I am eating a lot of broccoli, beets, yogurt, cranberry juice, blueberries, bran, sweet potatoes, and dark chocolate. (I’m not dead yet.)
To combat this fear I have been purging our house and our life of chemicals, from the products we use to clean our clothes to the paper we use to wipe our ass.
I am afraid of plastic. I am afraid of aluminum. I am afraid of chlorine and a million things that I cannot pronounce. Oh, and John McCain’s wife. I’m afraid of her too, though I’m pretty sure she’s non-carcinogenic.
To combat this fear I have had to stop reading the blogs of women I respect and admire, because they are living or have lived my fear, and I cannot bring myself to be a part of their journey, no matter how much I want to support these courageous, strong women.
I am trying to divulge the origin of this fear from within my soul. Does it stem from the discoveries, every single damn day that something else that we have invented, that we have developed, that we use and eat and touch and smell and breathe and wear will make us sick? Does it stem from the stories, every damn day, of people dying too young and too soon?
Or am I simply still grieving my own father, who died of cancer, too young, too soon, too quickly a very short time ago.
My doctor told me that they have recently discovered that Vitamin D helps to prevent certain cancers. Tomorrow I am buying vitamin D drops for the whole family, as she recommended. Today I am filled with guilt that I hadn’t already.
I know I have to reign these feelings in, or I risk my stress becoming a cause of what I fear. A wholistic approach to staying healthy must surely begin with my internal dialogue. I have to speak positively to myself. I have to return to Yoga. I have to eat more dark chocolate.
I have felt fear like this before, a long time ago. I was involved in an encounter where my personal safety was severely jeopardized, and for many months afterwards, I was scared. I could not say that it was a crippling fear, but it was a pre-occupying fear, as this is now. At the time, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and given a prescription for Zoloft, which I threw away. Talking was what I wanted, and talking is what eventually made the fear subside.
I prefer to use this space for jovial recounts of the cute things my children do, or to explore motherhood and its joys and struggles. I’m not all that big on the personal revelations and I can thank generations of stubborn women for the inabilities I have to reveal vulnerabilities very often.
But right now, I think I just need to talk. And eat some high-fibre cereal.