Parenthood is about unconditional love, fun and crazy amounts of laughter. It’s also very much about a four-letter word that begins with f.
Fear. Make that the worst fear you’ll ever know.
I met fear the other day and it was raw and terrifying and left me feeling delicate, shaky and uncertain for hours.
It came in the way of the staircase leading down to the basement playroom.
My husband and I had just finished dinner and were marveling at what a great little crawler our baby has become. Then, in a New York second, our little guy made a sharp turn and his small hands were gripping the edge of the staircase.
Enter fear — the kind of fear that grabs your heart like a wild animal and drags it mercilessly down to the pit of your stomach. It's scarier than any nightmare you've ever had or horror film that has kept you awake gripping your sheets wide-eyed in the darkness.
Adrenaline races through my body, my heart pumps hard inside my chest, and I don’t have time to think. Instinct takes over and I race toward him with gazelle speed and pluck him up.
He is safe. He is fine. He wears a big smile and his two teeth poke out from his pink bottom gums. He doesn’t sense the fear that's surging through me, but I am shaking. My eyes are burning as ‘what ifs?’ flood my brain.
What if I hadn’t reached him in time? What if he’d toppled down? What if we’d failed at our jobs as parents — at the single most important part of it — to keep our boy safe?
My body shudders as worst-case scenarios zigzag through my mind like an errant marble in a pinball machine.
We are not yet accustomed to, or fully prepared for, our baby’s new cruising skills.
One day he couldn’t get anywhere without us carrying him from point A to B and the next he’s trucking along with speedy precision as if he’s known how to crawl all along.
His world has evolved and the boundaries have stretched. He wants to wander and explore and touch everything. He wants to exercise his newly discovered freedom.
And who can blame him? There is great terrain to discover.
What this means is our house is becoming home to a rather large number of very unstylish purchases, among them cabinet clips, doorknob covers and, possibly, toilet bowl locks.
We will never be able to turn our backs for a second again. Baby gates will greet him at every turn, and so will pairs of eyeballs as we watch him constantly.
Thank god the kid is cute, I say.