Friday, March 20, 2009

#33 Bye, Bye Bravado

I've been blogjammed [as my college roommate coined]. Over the past few weeks I've had a lot of ideas flitting in and out of my head, but nothing seemed to stick for long. Then yesterday I heard about Natasha Richardson's skiing accident. Today, I learned of her death. For those of you who don't know who she was, I will tell you. She was a very talented actress, a stunning women, a wife of many years to Liam Neeson and most importantly the mother of two teenage boys.

Why after being blogjammed did this seem like a topic to write about? It's because her accident really hit a cord. I gave up skiing 10 years ago because of fear... fear of hurting myself so badly that I wouldn't be able to care for my family, that I would damage myself so terribly that perhaps someone would have to take care of me. Silly, perhaps. Felt by other moms, definitely. When I was telling some girlfriends at lunch today about this babble, I learned that one of them had given up scuba diving a couple of years ago for this reason, and I heard Kelly [Live With Regis and Kelly] say on the show that it's a parent's worst nightmare to leave your children young without having told them all you think they need to know. I felt validated. I read an article in Esquire Magazine [The Rationality of Personality by A.J. Jacobs] that said our brains are flawed; that they are not rational. Well, fears can be irrational, but they can also be very real. Nonetheless, the fear that came to mind when I heard about Natasha Richardson was primal. It was the motherlode of motherhood.

Momma's fear [pronounced mommasphere] - adverb - the global all encompassing, perhaps unfounded, real or imagined feeling that something may happen that will stop you from being able to care for your child/children.

Ask anyone who knew me before I had kids and they will tell you that I was a bit wild. I drove fast, played hard and wasn't really scared to do many things. Well, I might have been scared, but I did them anyway, and as I got older, bravado usually got me over the fear hump.

Exit bravado. My first experience with momma's fear came as a wedding gift. Friends bought Marc and me a pair of his and her roller blades. I'm not sure why, but it wasn't until our son was about 8 months old that I finally put mine on. This is an embarassing and ugly story, but the end result is I fell... badly. It was actually a crash landing where I knocked my head, saw stars and got the wind knocked out of me. I went home and slept for five hours straight. The next day I learned that I had broken my coccyx. I told Marc that I was never ever going to put on roller blades again, that luckily all I did was break my coccyx, but it could have been my back or neck or skull. What went through my mind on that day was, who would take care of my baby? My family? My dog? I gave the roller blades away toute suite.

Momma's fear and I became reaquainted in 2000 after 9/11. Marc and I had scheduled a trip to Europe for our 10th anniversary. The date we were supposed to leave was October 8th. Regretfully, I had to put the kybosh on this romantic getaway. He didn't understand that I was actually more scared of being stranded in Europe without a way to get back [G-d forbid something happened to the kids] than of getting on a plane. "What about my chidlren?" was the litany that ran through my head and out my mouth until my husband agreed to cancel the trip.

As I read my babble above, Spock comes to mind [from the TV series Star Trek]. Spock and his race, having dispensed with emotions, live their lives logically. That's food for thought. I mean, I wouldn't want to give up emotions like love and humor, but maybe a little bit of fear and worry could be bred out of us over the next couple of centuries. I know it sounds irrational, but why not. There's a saying that goes, "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?" I think I'm going to coin a new phrase concerning motherhood -- "What would you do if you didn't have to worry?"

Quote of the Day: Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice. Bethany Hamilon (top female surfer)

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