So it may very well be the case that I'm alone in this, and it is not normal. It may also, perhaps, be the case that you (parents) know *exactly* what I'm talking about.
Here goes: when I became a parent, weird shit started to brew in the quiet moments of my brain.
No, I mean WEIRD shit.
At some times, weirder than others.
While there was a wide variety of scenes my mind's eye constructed, it all worked around this central theme: my child was in danger, at times Xtreme! danger, and I was mentally going through the steps to protect/rescue/resuscitate him.
These were not dreams. At least they were most often not dreams. They were vivid-as-all-hell waking fantasies of the oft-disturbing variety.
A scene would form in my brain, and then I would watch myself try out a variety of methods to solve the problem or change the terrible circumstances.
Sometimes the situations were plausible bordering on likely. For example, after working out the practice scenarios in my mind, I now know exactly how I would have reacted if my son had wandered into the middle of the street when he was just beginning to walk. I also worked out what I would do if he ever fell into a pool or waded too far into the lake.
However, when he was just two months old--based on one of these out-of-nowhere fantasies--I worked out a number of methods I would have employed to respond to the extremely unlikely possibility that Talibani fighters had abducted him. Like, in Afghanistan (a place I'd never been to nor had any plans to visit).
As my son grows and my living situation changes, the thoughts expand and shift to include my steppy son as well. I know how I would handle it, for example, should an intruder break in and Kevin were out of town and I alone were tasked with keeping the boys safe. I know what I would do first and second, and so on.
I also happen to know JUST what I will do should my 4-year-old somehow and for no reason whatsoever insert his head all the way into a blazing gas stove and catch his hair on fire.
There is no filter, see?
There is no part of my brain saying 'How stupid. When and how and why would that ever, ever happen?' Instead it says, 'Well this is a new variety of clusterfuck. How are we gonna handle THAT one?!'
I discussed this with my mom a few years ago because it had started bothering me, and she told me the same thing happened to her when she became a parent, and my dad, too. She always felt it was a biological response: sort of the brain's dress rehearsal for if/when an emergency situation should actually arise.
That made sense to me.
As parents we are suited for this type of thing. It is both our duty and our primal instinct to keep safe the life we have brought into the world.
So I suppose it makes sense that our minds would do what they could to prepare us for those moments when we may have to step in and save the day. And if all those imagined scenarios work to heighten our senses and awaken our instincts in normal life, that's all good, too.
What remains terrifying is the knowledge that, however many imagined crises I can work through in my head, there is no way I will ever be able to safeguard my children against all possible dangers or ward off all possible pains.
Have you ever seen the Planet Earth footage of the mama Grey Whale who tries in vain to protect her baby calf while a pod of Killer Whales stalk and drown the little one? Damn! (Do not watch it if you're sensitive.) I love the Planet Earth series, and I've watched plenty of predator/prey footage, but that particular segment makes me cry every time.
I just can't even imagine (well clearly, I can imagine--but not comfortably) having to endure even a moment of time during which my child were being harmed.
If I felt I could have turned off these wild imaginings, I think I would have. I think I would have. The hesitation in making a definitive call on that comes from knowing that when I feel my mind and body's immediate response to the thought of my child in danger, I know things are working as they should. I know my parental instincts are in-tact because on some whole other level that feels almost outside of me, a danger/response sense has been enlivened.
I hope I should never have to rescue him from the mundane OR the fabulously absurd threats created in my brain, but in the event that I'm called to, I would hope one of the fabulously absurd solutions I've created will come in handy.