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My Baby Makes Me Brave

I have never been a very courageous person. Bees scare me, balloons (yes balloons, I know it’s strange) petrify me, and at 30 years old, I’m still not capable of sleeping alone in a room that is completely dark, entirely quiet or that contains a mirror in which I can see myself from the bed. Heck, I’m even too nervous to cross a street against the signal or dip my toes in a lake (it’s a turtle thing). Basically, I am a chicken.

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My fears, nonsensical as some of them may be, have been my close companions for as long as I can remember, and at this point I hardly even notice them any longer. The important people in my life are also well-acquainted with my neuroses and know that I will not watch even the trailer for a horror movie and that if I ever reread "Lonesome Dove" I’ll probably have to go sleep on the floor in my parents’ room for a while to escape any marauding Comanches, just like I did after my inaugural reading of that particular tome ... when I was 15.

None of this really mattered much — until I got pregnant and realized that soon I would be in charge of the well-being of a tiny human. I would probably need to toughen up, I realized, in order to effectively be the barrier between my little girl and the spider-y balloon-y things of the world. Plus, I did not want to plaster my mostly irrational fears onto her developing persona. (Well, I’m standing by the lake thing. Catfish have teeth for God's sakes.) It was time to be brave.

When my baby was finally placed in my arms, I knew I would do anything to keep that little girl safe.

“I will face my fears!” I told myself. “I am now in charge of all bug eradication,” I told my husband. Then I stomped around the house daring beetles and centipedes to make themselves known. Until one did. At which point I began again to cut a pathetic figure. “My husband is going to get you,” I shrilled to the offending creature from 10 feet away. “Darling there is some sort of winged beast in the hall, I would get it but I’m just jumping into the shower,” I shouted to my husband from down the stairs. Then I clambered into the bathroom and into the shower stall, fully clothed, until the insect was removed from my household. So much for conquering my fears.

I spent the next few months being scared that I would be too scared to properly protect my daughter. But as it turns out, I should never have worried.

On a freezing cold night this last January, my water broke. On the way to the hospital, the Sara Bareilles song "Brave" started playing. Sure I was excited and emotional but somehow it felt like a sign. I could do this, I decided. I could keep my daughter safe through the labor and the birth and the everything after. That song played on repeat in my head for the next 21 hours. And when my baby was finally placed in my arms, I knew I would do anything to keep that little girl safe.

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Because as it so happens, I am one tough mother. Yesterday I hunted down and successfully displaced a bee from the immediate area using only a spiral notebook and a desperation that said bee get nowhere near my infant. And last week? When our house alarm went off in the middle of then night? (It was an improperly closed door and a windy night, it turns out). My only reaction was to physically throw myself out of bed and start charging in the direction of the nursery. I am instinctually willing to do whatever it takes to protect my child. One year ago, faced with the sound of a tornado siren going off (followed closely by the power) on a Tuesday night while I’m home alone, I would have balked (or bawked maybe?) at entering the dark basement. These days I grab my baby from her crib and march straight on down. Because these days? I’m brave.

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