Every night, I check on my children before I go to bed. It’s not simply to make sure they are covered up and sleeping comfortably, but to assure myself that a) they have not been kidnapped and b) they have not died in their sleep.
Feel free to laugh. I know it’s ridiculous. Honestly, what are the odds that in the two hours between them going to bed and me going to sleep, that something horrific would happen? But, for some reason I cannot sleep until I know that my kids are safe and sound.
Yes, I am a control freak (there is a place for everything, and everything must go in its place!). But, I think it’s more than that. For many years, I worked in a newsroom. The stories that flowed through the hallways ran the gamut from waterskiing squirrels to co-eds who were kidnapped and murdered. Somehow, for most of those years, I managed to compartmentalize and treat them like they were a story. Fiction. Something that had to be told and forgotten.
Then, I found out I was pregnant. Blindsided by the awesomesauce news, I found myself an emotional and hormonal wreck. And wouldn’t you know it? That’s when so many stories about babies dying from SIDS or drowning in a pool surfaced. Honestly, for every baby-in-peril story reported on air, there are three that are tossed aside. Finally, I left the great news business and found work in a beige cubicle.
The phantoms of my old life linger. I still tense up whenever I hear the chirp of a Nextel (that was how I was alerted to breaking news), and when I hear about a tornado or other weather event, I think about the video that needs to be shot and uploaded to the internet.
But, overall, what remains is how precious life is. So, now, instead of running to the newsroom when the world goes to hell in a handbasket, I run to my kids. I hold them close, inhale their sweet baby scent and relish the fact that I have one more day to enjoy their laughter and more time to be completely drained by their boundless energy.
Parenting, the hardest job you’ll ever love.