I’m not going to pretend I’ve ever been some sort of super macho hardass; when something gets me in the feels, it gets me. Long have I been one to get misty eyed at love stories, or tragedies or what-have-you. I’m talking about when you’re multiple seasons into a show and they drop some big bombshell… they kill off a character you liked and not only are you dealing with that but also watching all of the other characters you’re invested in deal with it? I mean some Mrs. Landingham shit… (if you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about.) That stuff always got me.
But man… since becoming a parent? I can’t handle anything involving kids getting sick or hurt or worse. Stuff that, in the past, my rational brain would have at least recognized for the writing stroke it is, now skps right past any sort of logical processing. Instead, and I know I’m not alone here, I’m immediately imagining “Oh gods… what if it was my kid?” And then I’m done. I’m sobbing quietly, reaching up to wipe away tears while pretending like I’m just casually adjusting my glasses and hoping my wife doesn’t notice. And resisting the urge to get up and run into my boys’ rooms and give them huge bear hugs that I never release them from.
All of this is something I imagine every parent walks around with on a daily basis. We’ve figuratively taken a piece of our heart out of our chests and said “Here, go run around the world with all this scary and dangerous stuff like cars and drugs and guns and Trump. Oh, and please don’t get hurt?!”
We know it, but it’s something I think for the most part we can shove to the back of our minds for the majority of the day; we have to, in order to function. It’s never far away, though. The news? Forget about it. That thing last year, at the Disney resort, with the alligator? I was fucked up for like two weeks over that. My oldest had some footie pajamas that were covered in alligators.
“Daddy, can I wear–“
My wife and I will joke occasionally that becoming parents has just turned us into giant, exposed nerves, raw and suddenly keenly sensitive to all sorts of things we never had to even think about before. I haven’t been a Dad for so long yet that I’ve forgotten what it was like to be not a Dad, and so I’m constantly fascinated by just how much the whole experience alters my perspective on different things… and reinforces it on others.