In this case, shrink does not refer to my needing professional help, though if things continue the way they have been, that just might change.
When we were in Las Vegas recently, we lost M. She was right behind us, then suddenly, she wasn't. It took us a while to find her. We were just getting to our hotel room. We hadn't been there long enough to figure out where everything was. We put the boys in the room, told them to stay put, and took off running up and down the halls. We checked the pools, we checked the stairwell. We couldn't hear her or see her anywhere. I ran back to our room and called security and they helped us look. After I don't know how many minutes, a guy in uniform said, "Ma'am, they found her. She's with your husband."
Lots of weird things go through your head at a moment like that. I figured we'd probably find her, because, after all, non-family child abductions are pretty rare, and it wasn't very likely a two-year-old could find her own way out to the street from where we were. But still, if I was wrong, and we had to leave without her...well, I couldn't imagine, so I imagined finding her instead.
When a crisis hits, all the things I worry about don't seem so important.
Then, last week, most of us (the healthy fairy was smiling down on Mark) got a nasty stomach virus. Recovering from this sickness meant a lot of lying around in bed and a lot of laundry. But poor little K didn't seem to recover on his own. He'd bring up everything we fed him, even water. This went on for nearly two full days before I decided we should take him in. I wasn't well enough to cart him around, so Mark got the honor of taking him to the doctor. They found out he was dehydrated and considered checking him into the hospital before they decided that maybe they could treat him there. So after much driving around to get tests and prescriptions, Mark and K. got home at 1:30 am.
You'd think I would have learned the uselessness of worrying by now, but no. It's so easy to imagine worst-case scenarios when it's late at night, you're tired, and there's nobody else there to pretend to be fine for. And so again, my little world became pint-sized, and the messy house, my hundreds of little projects, and the children's bedtimes didn't matter so much.
But if you're imagining these experiences changed me and put my life in perspective, you have awfully high expectations of me. All it took was a few episodes of Hoarders and pretty soon I was a house-cleaning maniac again. I wouldn't want to have my priorities straight or anything. If you watch enough TV, you can get cured from just about any moral improvement.