I used to watch the news every morning. I found out the weather, traffic, headlines and latest gossip from my favorite channel while I ate breakfast and got ready for work.
Then I had a baby. And another.
And now I avoid the news as much as possible.
Because I enjoy my own share of mom-guilt, mom-shame and mom-fear. The mom-guilt and mom-shame usually come from places like social media. I easily block, un-follow and remove any negativity with a few taps and clicks. I've got practice and it works for me.
But the news was the number one contributor to mom-fear in my life. Every day there is a story about tragedy. Local. Nationwide. Worldwide. There is a regular smorgasbord of diseases, shootings, sex-trafficking, abuse, addiction, bullying, death and torture that are thrown in our faces. Graphic images and video of suffering and loss and pain are layered on top of one another as a, "this is what's happening in your world" sandwich. All of it is too much for me to swallow.
Please don't misunderstand, I think its important that all of these stories see the light of day. These very real stories need to be told. People need to know what is happening. Information is not a bad thing.
But then I became a mom. And every. Single. Tragedy took on a new magnitude of reality.
I will never forget going to the movies on a date night with my husband to see Murder on the Orient Express. I am a huge fan of murder mysteries (I can hear the Murder, She Wrote theme song in my head right now as I type this) and my husband and I watch movies just about every evening before bed. We have a wide selection on our shelves. Walking out of the theater that evening, I knew I would probably never watch the Poirot remake again.
Because the idea of my child getting kidnapped and killed is enough to give me heart palpitations. The fact that I could so vividly relate to the pain and rage that every character was experiencing and that I could so easily justify their desire to murder the person responsible for the child's death...truly scared me.
I haven't taken the test that everyone talks about but it's safe to say that I am an empath. I can easily empathize and relate to a person's situation and feelings. I can be overwhelmed when I see someone achieve something amazing and I can ball my eyes out when a person is hurting. I feel it on a personal level because I can find a way to relate.
And then there are situations that happen or that people experience that terrify me. Tragedies that make me think about what could happen to my own children. Fear that stabs right into my core and shakes my faith-held, optimistic nature.
I call it mom-fear because it is a different beast than I had ever experienced in my life before I had kids. In the throes of mom-fear, it causes me to rarely want to leave the house because all of the scenarios I can create in my head can easily be avoided by staying home. And if I do venture out, I compensate by being hyper-vigilant, anxious and over-protective.
So when I figure out that there is something that triggers unhealthy thoughts, I tend to avoid those triggers as much as possible. Examples - I don't watch horror or war movies. I don't watch most reality TV. I don't read graphically violent novels (I can visualize too much too easily). And now, I don't watch the news.
I'm not saying that each of these medias are "bad" but each one is bad for me. Mom-fear robs me of the joy of the moment. It makes me spend the best days with my kids worrying about what will happen tomorrow. It's not healthy for me or my kids or my family.
Don't get me wrong. I still know that all of those tragedies exist. I get my current events through other outlets that let me filter out the good, the bad and the really bad. And someone else - like my husband or dad - has no problem keeping me up to date with the latest happenings around the world.
But overall I am a happier person and a healthier mom if I focus on the positive energy happening in my own little world right now. Maybe my mom-fear will go away and I'll go back to watching the news someday. But right now, I'll stick with some Sesame Street, Great British Baking Show and Project Runway. *wink*