Friday, March 9, 2012

To Fear or Not to Fear?

I admit I’m not as afraid of some things as I should be. In fact, I have what some other moms might consider to be an appalling lack of germ phobia. Tonight, when a kid at Target dropped his pacifier on the ground, I was tempted to tell the mom to just suck on it herself and then give it back to him.
Only after I refrained from offering this unsolicited advice did it occur to me that she might fear her own mouth buzzing with Target floor germs, let alone the baby’s.
I congratulate my lack of germ phobia for HB’s stellar immune system. I never laid a disposable mat on the restaurant table. I operated under the presumption that the table was clean enough. I didn’t sterilize her pacifier or use bottled water in her formula. Straight out of the tap. Not even filtered.
I’m also not afraid of public bathrooms, though we do take a few basic precautions before using them.
I don’t carry anti-bacterial gel or lotion or spray or wipes or suppositories.
It’s not that I don’t understand the basic science of germs or that I mean to intentionally disrespect their disease and ickiness powers. I just don’t have room in my life for that much fear. Some other things I can’t be bothered to fear include China, pro-Life activists, Satan, the apocalypse, infidelity, and aging.
All fear requires a certain amount of suspiciousness. And suspiciousness must be supported by investigation and contemplation, or in the absence of those rational behaviors, speculation and agitation can be substituted.
In fact, I find most fear to be the product of these latter irrational behaviors. They seem to be much easier than the former two. They require little to no commitment or thought. One can simply perpetuate speculation by agitating persons who are poorly entertained by reality TV, celebrity gossip, and other people’s tragedies.
Don’t believe that? Wa
tch Bill O’Reilly take Shep Smith’s “news” about Casey Anthony and turn it into a debate over single parenting or teenaged pregnancy. Wait through the commercial break and an expert will examine the effect of the MTV program “Sixteen and Pregnant” on the case.
Wait, what? I don’t have time to figure out that connection and neither do the viewers who are too busy getting agitated by the monstrosity of it all to really worry about the logic.
There is so much noise, so much to fear, that it’s hard to figure out exactly why. And without a ‘why’ I find it’s tough to rationalize spending my energy on fear or the associated agitation.
Maybe I’m not afraid enough, especially when it comes to HB. Maybe I don’t worry enough that she’s getting Vitamin A or that she’s hydrated, or that she stays away from bees and fire ants. Maybe my sea-turtle approach to parenting leaves her open to being malnourished, or thirsty, or stung.

Or maybe sunscreen on every exposed inch of her body, enablement of her milk addiction, and as many cuddles and books as I can possibly squeeze in between the time we get home and the time she goes to bed are sufficient. Maybe I just choose the things I fear, or the things I protect her from, anyway. Maybe I believe the rest will take care of themselves.
After all, the energy it would take to investigate and contemplate the threat posed by China or the possibility of developing laugh lines could be better used elsewhere, like on the things I am legitimately afraid of. A post about those some other time.  

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