Another day, another post. Another article shared meant to “help” and “make parents aware” of some terrifying thing that happened to someone, somewhere. Shared here, shared there, the weight of every.single.thing I’m supposed to be vigilant about, every waking moment of every day is cumbersome.
I am so tired of being told I need to live in fear. Fear of strangers. Fear of setting up my twins’ cribs the wrong way. Fear of someone injecting HIV-tainted blood into bananas. Fear of putting my kids’ seat belt latch one millimeter too low. Fear of my girls getting kidnapped from my Target shopping cart and sold to traffickers. I could go on forever.
The thing is, none of these things play on any of my ACTUAL fears. I have a hard enough time squashing my own very real anxieties. Letting the internet boogie men inside my head would rob me of my joy. I would not be able to go anywhere, do anything, or even eat. I have the ability to choose what extra fears I allow penetrate my life. It took me a long time to learn that.
Last week, one of my deepest, darkest fears happened to someone I know. The real, raw feelings that tragedy brought out of me made me remember that life is too short to spend worrying that I might be doing something wrong every waking moment of my life. It’s also too short and there are too many wonderful people in this world to assume everyone is a threat.
Yes, freak accidents happen. Yes, people are careless and there are consequences. Yes, people don’t receive proper care for their mental health issues and then they do things that many people would never fathom. But does my local news station really need to share news stories about the one weird or terrifying thing that happened to someone 3,000 miles away, something that, pre-internet, I would never have read about in the newspaper or in a magazine? No. Does everyone need to mindlessly share these stories without reading the whole story or checking sources? For the love, no.
I cannot physically go about my life and actually be vigilant about everything the internet wants me to be vigilant about. It is completely impossible. I will not live in fear of the freak accident. I will not live in fear of the grocery store because one guy went sprinkling mouse poison on food at a store somewhere far away. I will not doubt my choices as a mother because some writer decided to put a click bait title on a “research” piece that says things we already knew in a new way, worded specifically to play on the heightened fears of parents.
So I will not. I will not let the internet boogie men take away my happiness. I will not live in fear of the unknown, the what-ifs, the unimaginables. If I read something applicable to me, I will file it away in the folds of my brain instead of making it the focus of my worries. I will use the street smarts my parents taught me and the intuition I was born with to navigate the world. I will hope upon hope that I can teach my children to do the same.