Fear: early parenthood is riddled with it. A baby delivered, pure and pristine. Responsibility: the flip side of fear. It is yourresponsibility to keep him that way, a weight so heavy some of us can hardly sleep for the feel of it crushing our chests. Where once life was a relatively serene landscape, now, everywhere you look, stretch tentacles of danger: corners that are sharp, chemicals that are noxious, strangers that are unsavory. How many precautions can you reasonably take? How safe can you make an unsafe world for those you love?
It’s an unanswerable question, but perhaps its most interesting feature is that, above a basic threshold (e.g. car seats), we would all answer it differently. Fear is a strange and idiosyncratic beast. Maternal fear is even more so. Part of being a parent is engaging in a constant game of risk assessment based on your unique fingerprint of anxiety and the rub is that no two of us will play it exactly alike.
I consider myself a risk-averse person by nature. But I have done things you would not do. I have taken newborns into germ-laden coffee shops. I have laid to sleep babies on their tummies. From time to time, I leave my twin toddlers unattended in the car (cool climate, five minutes). I have not made these decisions blithely, or with my head in the sand: I know the risk factors for SIDS; I know that an overheated car is a death sentence. I have made them, rather, because in the individual circumstances I did not deem the potential for injury or harm great enough to outweigh the practical advantage. And, as a result, I wasn’t afraid…
You can read the rest of the post here, at Brain, Child Magazine.