Switching off

Is it me or does it suddenly get much harder to read the news when you’re a mum?

Or read a book.

Or watch a film.

And I don’t mean because the small humans prevent us from doing so…

Though that is also an issue.

It’s more that since I’ve had baby girl OC, and even prior to that, when I was pregnant with her, I have suddenly found anything involving small children or babies, or even a mother daughter/father daughter relationship more gut wrenching than ever before.

It all started when we were re-watching all of Game of Thrones. You know how Craster kills off all the babies who are not girls – or rather he leaves them to the White Walkers as a sacrifice so that they leave him be, and he can continue to have sex with his daughters, keeping only the girl babies (for more sexy times) and getting rid of the boy babies who, of course, would be a threat to his nice little set-up. You didn’t know this? Ok, well so you don’t think I’ve finally lost the plot, you can read about this guy here:

http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Craster

Anyway, the point is, there are two scenes which involve leaving a crying newborn baby in the cold, snowy and dark forest, all alone. Never has a tiny baby looked so defenceless – so innocent and undeserving of the cruel world into which it’s been born. Never has tv been so upsetting.

Until the scene with Walda Bolton (nee Frey) when she and her newborn baby (the heir to the Bolton empire) are torn to pieces by rabid dogs that evil Ramsey Bolton sets on them.

It’s honestly a great show.

Really.

But that was just the start. That was when I suddenly realised I couldn’t even physically bring myself to watch these scenes (that I’d actually seen before), but that now forced me to walk out the room and try to hold my shit together.

Unfortunately reality doesn’t give me much of a break either. A couple of months ago it was the story of the baby whose life was tragically taken in the pedestrian/car accident in Melbourne. And in the last week we have had to read about the mother who tried to kill her sons in the Murray River. It’s all so heartbreaking.

Honestly, I now can’t go near an article or book if it is going to take about child abuse. I always knew my mum was unable to read or watch anything that had that in the storyline and I always felt she was very sensitive. I understood her feelings, but it didn’t affect me like it did her.

And now I am totally on the same page. It sucks really that I had to become a parent to be able to truly feel a strong adversity to these atrocities, but at the same time it plainly just sucks (understatement of the century) that these things can possibly happen to innocent children. They of all people should be free from such monstrous goings-on. Once you’re a parent, if you weren’t already massively upset about these things you probably will be before long.

Last night I was chatting with one of my best mates whose son is 3.5 months older than Little Miss OC, she was saying she was watching a documentary on Dunblane but had had to turn it off. She wouldn’t even tell me what channel it was on. And she was right to do so. We would have both had nightmares if we had watched it.

Which got me to thinking. Surely the worst pain anyone can feel is to be a parent that loses a child? There is no measure of grief. But never has it been so clear to me what it is to love so unconditionally. To feel like a being is an extension of you. To know that what hurts that child hurts you. And if anything were to happen to her that it doesn’t even bear thinking of.

I have a friend who lost her daughter when she was about two years old. It is something for which you cannot really comfort her. Words and actions might show love and support to her and her family… but we have talked about how that grief doesn’t ever go away. It’s been ten years since the little girl passed but this year it affected me more than it has in the past – I felt even more helpless to take away pain for my friend, and I felt so upset in my commemoration of this tiny life lost. I knew it wasn’t about me, but as we let balloons into the sky for her, as is done each year, I couldn’t help but look at my lovely little girl and feel like my heart might explode in just considering what we were for there that day.

And apparently there’s no escaping from the tragedies of the world in a good book. Or at least, not in the ones I’ve recently been reading. We read The Light Between Oceans for Bookclub the month before lost. I’d already read it as a non-mum years ago but my now-mum friend read it and said “It’s not really the easiest read for new mums is it?!” And she’s right. The last month it was Big Little Lies. Now, this book is meant to be quite light-hearted but I still found it hard when Jane’s son Ziggy was crying and saying none of his kindergarten friends would play with him. Urgh. Ok ok. I get it. Kids are the greatest. Can you stop tugging at my heart please? And then this month, well Hannah Kent… you marvelled us all with Burial Rites and so I chose your new book The Good People. Poor unknowing me. It’s only mostly about a little handicapped boy in 1825 in rural Ireland where there was very poor understanding of things like Cerebal Palsy or any such affliction. This book damn near broke me. I shed some tears. It didn’t, in the end, take away from my enjoyment. But I sure felt some strong urges to hide it under my pillow at times.

So, it seems, I’m way too sensitive, and new motherhood has merely put me at further risk. I could be brought to uncontrollable tears and yes I might occasionally be able to blame hormones or sleep deprivation. But the main cause of my newfound inability to cope with anything involving small children coming to any harm is down to that gorgeous little human known as my daughter. And I’m cool with that. Even if I have to stop reading the news and half of the tv shows.

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