For the record, this post is supposed to be suitable for all humans. It isn’t supposed to be about being a mom. Or boobs. Or CPR. It just starts that way, so like… bear with me.
We took a bunch of classes in an effort to prepare for Grace’s arrival. Infant CPR felt both helpful and necessary. Breastfeeding Basics was, well, basically useless. None of it made sense until I actually started breastfeeding, and at that point, I had the invaluable support of lactation consultants in the hospital. They helped me figure that cool stuff out. During the class itself, we watched some weird slide shows (I have never seen so many boobs in my life, nor do I expect to, ever ever again), and a movie with credits that included a thank you “to the women of Bulgaria.” I am still not sure what to make of that. Our instructor for Child Safety went a bit rogue, so the class was more about how weird babies can look when their born, and less about… safety.
Fortunately, the gaps left by the safety class were more than filled in when I had an appointment with a Boston Police officer to have our car seat inspected, just two days before Grace made her early arrival. What I thought would be a two minute check of our car seat (which Nick had expertly installed) turned into 90 minutes of me learning how to actually use our car seat (little did I know how soon I be putting this new found knowledge to work), how many air bags my car has, which items in the trunk could turn into projectiles if (God forbid) I got into an accident, how to safely flee an emergency by car with an infant in tow, how to use a car seat without a base if I were to flee an emergency by taxi, and the importance of actually reading safety manuals.
Our childbirth class was cut short by a blizzard, so while we learned a bit about labor, we never learned about delivery. Needless to say, when it came time to deliver Grace… Nick and I both had a lot of questions. And I am certain our attending midwife and nurses had several questions about us.
Anyway, in an ongoing effort to get my life together before going back to work in just a short time (don’t get me started, I am almost out of Kleenexes), I was sorting through various info packets from the aforementioned classes, and I came across a page of notes I had taken. In all caps, I had written,
Fear is not productive.
I remember one of the instructors mentioning that fear (and anxiety and worry) can slow down labor. I am pretty sure I wrote this sentence down so that I could remember it if I went into labor and we were stuck in traffic. Or in an elevator. Like, I would look at pictures of clowns (or something equally terrifying) and the fear would persuade our baby to wait until we were safely at the hospital.
I think, at the time, I missed the point. The instructor meant that being informed, making preparations, and feeling a sense of control would have the opposite effect. Fear is not productive. Being empowered is. With seemingly so much more to worry about, to be anxious about, and to feel doubtful about these days, I needed this reminder.
Sure, in certain cases, fear probably is quite productive. Say, if I were a cavewoman and a lion came into my cave to eat my cheese doodles, and I saw the lion, and I felt afraid… and that fear caused me to take my doodles (you can’t leave them behind, I imagine they were really hard to come by in those days) and run? Productive. Or that time I went skydiving with my ex-boyfriend in college (that should totally be the name of a Lifetime move: Skydiving with My Ex…. and maybe on the way to the airfield, before she actually skydives, the main character would find out that she had been switched at birth, just to keep things
realistic interesting. Feel free to steal and pitch this idea to the network.), and I felt fear overwhelm me as I prepared to jump. That’s productive. People really shouldn’t jump out of planes for no reason. Fortunately, I survived, but I did lose a contact lens during free fall.
Real, physical fear — the kind that has helped us stay alive as a species for so long — aside, the kind of fear that has us trying to predict the future, or read others’ minds, or play out all possible scenarios, is not productive. Worrying about whether or not Grace will be happy at day care is not going to make her any more or less happy. Getting anxious about making time to fit everything into the day is not going to fold the laundry, preside over meetings, pick out a semi-normal outfit for me to wear, and finish a workout. That kind of fear is just not productive. It wastes time. It wastes energy. And it leads to more fear.
As much as I love cop shows (which is to say, a lot), I’ve always been squeamish when it comes to the violent parts. I like the intrigue, the plotting, and the cool police lingo, but I’ve always tended to cover my eyes during any of the real action. I got into the habit, jokingly, of covering Clark’s eyes, too and telling him to “guard his spirit.” This has always made Nick laugh, but I’ve caught myself saying this hippy b.s. more and more… and sort of seriously. And most often to, well, myself.
When that unproductive fear creeps in, we’ve got to guard our spirits. And with that, I am off to legally change my name to
Soleil Moon Frye Dreamcatcher Incense Flower.
Also On Tap for Today:
Do you have any unusual fears? What was the caveperson version of cheese doodles?