Tuesday 15 January 2013

I used to fall asleep to the soothing Duh Duh of the Law and Order theme song. I don't anymore.

There's this thing that happens when you become a parent. It's a change in perspective or consciousness. The world hasn't changed but suddenly it feels entirely different. In the years that follow from childhood to adulthood we manage to forget our fears of the boogie man. Monsters cease to exist in dark closets and creaky floor boards can be explained by a lack of joist support. But in the first days and weeks of parenthood all of those fears come rushing back a vengeance.

I have the bad habit of falling asleep to the TV. I've tried to kick this addiction but I can never seem to quiet my mind without the distraction. For many years the opening credits of Law and Order served as an effective sleeping pill. The loud Duh Duh triggered my mind to relax and sleep was soon found. If Law and Order couldn't be found then other procedural crime dramas would suffice. Safe in my Canadian home I was unlikely to be found walking through Central Park or Chelsea Piers alone at night so my mind didn't wander into what if scenarios. That stuff might happen in real life (although likely less than is represented on television) but if it did it happened far from me.

Then I had a kid. And suddenly those murderers and child molesters, the polluters poisoning drinking water, and the kidnappers were all right outside my door. Because a switch flips and the world, and the people in it, feel much scarier. It's coded into our DNA. This need to protect our young. But our minds are our worst enemies as they envision all sorts of misguided and unlikely scenarios.

I've had to say goodbye to the crime dramas for now. Perhaps someday I will be able to fall asleep to the sounds of the men and women in blue solving murders and catching kidnappers. But for now I need to push those demons out of mind. Because being a parent means loving someone so much that even the thought of loosing them can cause a night of insomnia. And we parents need our sleep.

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