Sometimes I lie to myself. I allow my mind to wander as I watch my sweet twin three-year-old boys climb the entertainment center babbling something like, “Beep beep, here comes the mountain train.” What could possibly go wrong here?
This one precious room in our tiny town home is where they can actually play inside. I mean, we live in Minnesota where it’s winter for approximately 18 months out the year. And as fun as -30° might sound to you adventurous outdoor folks, just no. I like to be able to shut my eyelids on command, to feel my feet actually touching the ground when I walk, but not my nostril hairs.
I live in Narnia and the White Witch is a stupid voice in my head that sounds an awful lot like my dorm mother from boarding school, saying, “If it’s fun, it will probably kill them."
Our living room is childproofed. Whatever that means. Don’t get me wrong. I love our home. It is every blessing I have ever prayed for. A roof, walls, beds, food, clothing. I’m fairly easy to please. Really. Ask my husband. Today is our anniversary and I completely forgot. HE had to remind ME. Welcome to my low maintenance life.
That can happen when most of your life has been spent wishing you were dead.
But things changed for me when I got clean, medicated, married and had children. Suddenly the idea of death changed from my desire to no longer live, to my every waking moment being dedicated to keeping two little people as far away from harm as possible. No big deal.
These boys nearly killed me during pregnancy, not an exaggeration. 7 months of bed rest, 9 hospital stays and a hospital bed installed in our living room because I dropped to nearly 100 pounds. With twins. When you give entirely of yourself and work that hard for that long to bring two lives into the world, the job is hardly done the minute they get here. Oh no. That’s just the beginning.
Why didn’t somebody tell me?
That is a rhetorical question, folks. Please don’t reply. Please.
So my little miracles made it and I realized early on that the stress and anxiety of what it means to be a parent was just beginning. Many of you have probably read a recent article I wrote called, Excuse Me While I Lather My Child In This Toxic Death Cream, as a result. The never ending list of things that seem to be threatening our homes, our lives, our children’s lives.
So how the hell do you maneuver this world when you already have anxiety or struggle with any other sort of mental illness? In my case? At first, you don’t. You choose denial. Denial is safe. It is comfortable and easy. It is the land of eternal rainbows and gluten free cupcakes that actually taste amazing and everything is made out of bubble wrap and marshmallows. A land of no chemicals. Anywhere. Ever. In anything. And you are invincible.
And then your two year old flies head long into the wall and splits his forehead wide open.
Even in our tiny living room, which we so naively thought before our boys arrived that we could share as an adult space with them (get a grip), has proven to be a challenge. We did all the child proofing, the books, and websites, and mommy groups say to do. Bought all the stuff. But I am learning as I grow in motherhood, that the idea of fully childproofing anything is really just a fallacy.
I can’t use the bathroom on the first floor because I can’t figure out the child lock. I am an adult.
I sat on the couch today and thought how nice it would be to have a bigger home with a room in it dedicated to playing, for the boys. A safe room. Yes. Those actual words entered my head. Like a psychopath. The room had soft walls and floors. And a tiny window, but up by the ceiling where they couldn’t get to it.
You guys, I built an imaginary padded room from a psych ward in my mind for my children. Just so I can go to the bathroom by myself. And maybe clean out the fridge from last years Thanksgiving leftovers. They’ve taken over the bottom shelf and are reproducing now. They have their own zip code. Something must be done.
Once again, I am not saying safety is not important. Of course it is. But when did we get so paranoid? So worried about everyone else’s opinions.
My boys are wild and independent and I absolutely celebrate that in them. They have been climbing the jungle gym by themselves since before they were two. Yes. You read that right. I am that Mom. I saw and felt the looks. Keep staring folks. I was at the park the other day and now that they are three, parents actually ask how they are able to do everything so well. What did we do? Well…nothing.
A majority of my life was spent in dark rooms. Sad, pathetic and lonely places. I want my boys to live. To really live. We go outside a lot. We go hiking, camping, fishing, adventuring regularly. That is our priority. That was our decision.
I understand that life is scary and dangerous. I should be dead. Many times over, I should be dead. But I’m not. I’m here. And my boys are going to know what it means to live. And not to fear. To be smart. But not paranoid. To take chances. To get scars. And wear them like badges of honor.
So please, if you are living in fear, stop. Just stop. I chewed on batteries when I was a kid. Fairly certain that’s on the list of things that can kill you. Granted that may be a big part of what’s wrong with me now, but it’s almost worth it just to be able to tell the story in this blog.
Be smart. Be proactive. But don’t let the world wreck you. Determine what kind of parent YOU want to be. Trust your instincts. They are there for a reason. Now go find your kids and do something fun with them. Something exciting. Adventurous. Maybe even a little daring. Whatever you do, just start living. Right now.