In every parenting team there is a “worried one,” who is likely to flip out over stuff, and a “mellow one,” who tends to roll with the punches. These terms are fluid, of course, and on a bad day the “mellow one” can become the “worried one” and vice versa, but for the most part a parent picks a role the minute their little bundle of joy squirts out and sticks with it.
I, unfortunately, am the “worried one.”
I blame my mother for this. She was not just the “worried one” in her parenting team, but the “worried one” for the entire Western United States during the mid to late eighties. It’s true…they gave her a badge and everything, but she rarely wore it because she was too worried she’d lose it.
I could tell you many crazy stories about my mother’s obsessive worrying, and I will in a future post, but right now I’m more concerned with explaining how at some point in high school I uttered the phrase, “I will never be like my mother,” and, of course, doomed myself to becoming exactly like her. Before long I will not only worry about everything, but also have hot flashes and wear a girdle.
Sometimes my worrying really pisses Heather off. Take last night when we were getting ready for bed. We laid Maddie down in her crib in the baby room, then retreated to our bedroom and got under the covers. Before drifting off to sleep, however, the “worried one” in me had to check the baby monitor one last time. That’s when I saw Maddie staring back at me with those spooky baby monitor eyes. (Anyone who has a baby monitor knows what I’m talking about.) This unsettled me because I expected Maddie to be asleep, and suddenly an unsettling image popped into my mind of watching the monitor when two foreign hands appeared on-screen and snatched Maddie out of the crib. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, I then imagined the hands not to be human, but scaly, puss festering monster hands.
At that point, as only a man can, I turned to Heather and did something incredibly stupid. I said, “Wouldn’t it be horrifying if you were watching the monitor when two hands suddenly appeared on the screen and snatched up Maddie?”
Heather, who had almost been asleep, was now totally awake. “The fuck are you telling me that for?”
“It just dawned one me,” I stammered. “And -”
“There’s a window in her room. Now I’m totally picturing someone smashing it and climbing inside to steal her.”
“That won’t happen,” I said, trying to reassure her.
“How do you know?!”
(NOTE: See how quickly the roles can switch?)
Heather: “Go get her. I won’t be able to sleep now unless she’s in bed with us.”
Me: “I can’t. She’s on her oxygen.” (for those of you not so familiar with our story, Maddie needs oxygen at night because of her lung issues).
Heather: “Well, I’m not going to be able to sleep now. Thanks!”
Me: “Me neither. It’s a disturbing image…and it only gets more disturbing when you imagine the hands belong to a monster.”
Heather: “A monster?”
Me: “Yeah, like a scaly, puss dripping, eight foot tall demon thing.”
Heather: “Who are you?”
Me: “It gets even more disturbing if you picture yourself trying to run in to save her, but can’t do it because your legs suddenly weigh a thousand pounds.”
Heather: “Do you want me to make you sleep on the floor next to her crib?”
Me: “No, I just… These are the things I think about.”
Heather let out a long, annoyed sigh that told me the conversation was over.
A minute or so later I looked at the baby monitor and saw that Maddie’s eyes were now closed. Heather, however, was wide awake and glaring at me with eyes far spookier than any seen in a baby monitor.
It’s hard to be the worried one. It’s also hard to be the crazy one.