If there were another job that could be more fitting for me, it would be disaster planning.  I am a master at it.  I lie awake every night just thinking up worst case scenarios and how to avoid them.  I would say 99% of these scenarios involve my kids.

Before I had children, I would have just labeled myself a planner.  I don’t like surprises.  And I definitely don’t like feeling out of control.  So I would make sure I had a plan for everything, and back-up plans.  I don’t think that my disaster planning came along until my kids did.  When you have children, your heart walks around outside your body.  It is the scariest, best feeling to love someone that much.  I adore my husband.  I choose to love him every day, and it will be just the two of us (cue sappy music) when the kids are grown and gone.  And I’m not saying that I don’t sit around planning his funeral and trying to figure out if we would move or stay in our home, etc, when he doesn’t answer my texts within 5 minutes time.  But, deep down, I know there is a 50/50 shot that he will go to heaven before me, so I have to be at least a tiny bit prepared for that.

But the kids…no.  So I lie awake at night.  Apparently the best disaster planning time is between 10pm and 1am.  These are the power hours in which my mind will go to the darkest places (if I believed in former lives, I would be convinced that I was a very successful serial killer, that’s how good I am at thinking up horrible things) and figure out what all the possibilities for the next day’s disasters are.  And during these hours, I could solve world hunger (but I’m too busy keeping my kids safe).  In my mind there is an outline with subcategories upon subcategories of options for scenarios to play out.  It’s almost like those books where you choose the ending, if it’s option 1 turn to this page, option 2 turn to this one, etc.  I cannot stop it either, until I think I have figured out all the possibilities and somehow covered them, or my brain overloads and and shuts down, whereupon I usually have terrible dreams and wake up and spend the next two hours making up a happy ending for said dreams.

It has not gotten better as the kids get older.  When they were babies it mostly included them falling off something, running into something, etc.  Now there are so many more possibilities.  Like when we went to the Grand Canyon recently and I stayed up the night before worrying that they would walk off the edge while looking at a phone (they weren’t allowed out of the car–the phones, not the kids, though I wanted to) or someone would trip or get bumped into, etc.  It took all I had not to put leashes on them, but they did hold my hand a lot (they’re 12 and 10 so they absolutely loved that).  I try really hard not to be stupid overprotective, but when you’re looking at a hole 1 mile deep, there is something inside that insists on clutching your child’s head to your bosom while running in the opposite direction.  So holding their hand was a compromise, really.

My daughter is walking home alone for the first time tomorrow.  I am so tense I should have buns of steel by the end of the day.  My 3 o’clock patient will have THE best cleaning  EVER as I throw all of my energy into eradicating every last speck of plaque and tartar to keep from jumping out of my chair and driving home while I wait for her to text me that she has arrived safely.  I gave her a key, an umbrella, threatened her with her life if she doesn’t stay with her group, grilled her about the garage door code.  I have done all within my power other than pick her up myself.  There is a whole group of kids who walk our way home.  It is not uphill or in the snow.  It may be 8 blocks.  Why am I petrified that she will be singled out and kidnapped?  Or forget her key and the garage door code and have to sit outside in a monsoon until I get home?  Or choke on her afterschool snack and no one will be there to do the Heimlich? This is why all afternoon snacks are either cheese it’s or granola bars–I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to choke on those, and if it’s not, just don’t tell me please.  Why is her growing up is so hard for me?

After she’s walked home for a couple years I’ll probably be fine.  There are so many more disasters to plan to avoid.  I mean, she’s not even a teenager yet.  There should probably be some medication in my future.

Published by Lori Bonnett