OK I admit it. I was always a bit of a control freak. I like a clean and orderly life and lack of the same can seriously put my nose out of joint. However, this in no way prepared me for the wave upon wave of worry and paranoia that comes along with being a mother.
It started the day Ayaan was born. Most mothers I know talk about an instant outpouring of maternal love as soon as they hold their baby for the first time. Not for me. I felt scared. Was I holding him right? Was his head supported well enough? What if I slipped and dropped him? Am I holding him too tight? Am I feeding him correctly? Is he getting enough milk? Is the room too cold for him? Is the room too hot for him? Why is he crying? Is he hungry? Is he wet? Is he in pain? And all this was just the first week at the hospital!
Since then, the list of worries has changed but the fear persists. My top five fears at the moment:
- What if he hurts himself really badly? No matter how much you childproof your home, there is no 100% safe environment for a curious baby who has just started to crawl and is also trying to pull himself up on the furniture. We discover and fix new hazards every day. Last week, I worried that the bookshelf might topple over so we bolted it to the wall. This week I am worried about Ayaan pulling the tablecloth and everything on it down onto himself – so its goodbye to tablecloths for a while. And the list never ends. Almost everything can be a hazard if you really think about it. Ayaan can either fall on it, he can fall from it, it can fall on him, he can swallow it, he can break it into harmful pieces, and so on…
- Germs. Germs. Germs. They are everywhere. They always have been but I have never been this aware of their existence. Now entire chain of events can be built around everything. Here’s an example: Ayaan is putting his hand into his mouth. Earlier, we came up in the elevator and he touched the buttons. There’s a cold epidemic going on. So there’s a good chance someone with a cold was in the elevator sometime earlier. And he would have also touched the very same buttons. And what if he wiped his nose before that…you see where this going?
- What if I die? My own mortality has suddenly taken on a new significance for me. Earlier, I never thought about it. But now another human being depends on me for his very existence. And this strikes me every time I get an urge to dash across the road – I now wait till there is a substantial gap in the traffic before attempting such a thing. I am even thinking about writing a will.
- Is he eating enough? Is he gaining enough weight? Every visit to the paediatrician is like going for an exam and every time we get a pass or a fail grade depending on whether Ayaan’s weight gain is adequate.
- What if my nanny quits/ falls sick/ behaves so badly that I have to sack her? The last search made me realise finding a good maid for the baby is not easy, in fact it is bloody tough. How will I go to work if that happens? What if I can’t find a replacement and I have to quit? How will we repay our home loan?
I am pretty sure that the lists of worries will keep changing but I pretty much signed myself up for worry when I decided to become someone’s mother. A lifetime of worry is pretty much part of the job description.
As someone once wrote, “Don’t tell me that worry doesn’t do any good. I know better. The things I worry about don’t happen”. The chances are pretty good that this was written by a mother!