I’m Petrified Of Watching The News Since Becoming A Mom

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I first noticed something was wrong about two months after my first child was born. We were on the sofa popping in a film: Children of Men, the Clive Owen/Julianne Moore thriller. What could possibly be cooler than a Clive Owen/Julianne Moore thriller, I thought to myself. And then the plot began to unfurl – a dead child, another dead child, a pregnant woman in peril – and I realized, quite a lot, actually.

“Turn it off. Off. Turn it off,” I told my husband before curling into the fetal position. Movie night was over.

Movies – and TV for that matter – have never been the same since. It rarely takes more than two scenes before a baby goes missing, a mother is murdered, a father leaves home. Then, like Pavlov’s dog, I reach for the remote. The news? Forget it. Kidnappings, abductions, school shootings and sieges… even the healthcare wars in the U.S. reduced me to a hot, snivelling mess. Not a good look for a journalist. It’s got so my husband knows the only way to keep me from bursting into tears is to turn on ESPN, in which I have no emotional investment. That or a Friends rerun, and those start to grate after the sixth viewing.

I never expected motherhood would turn me into one of those sensitive viewers who networks warn to look away before a violent program. I’m the girl who used to host slasher-flick parties and followed the trials of serial killers like they were the World Cup. I made up drinking games around CSI: take a shot every time Gil Grissom makes a cryptic remark, and every time Marg acts like a bitch. Today I need a half-litre of vodka just to get through to the first commercial break – and it’s not nearly as entertaining.

Like someone with a wheat allergy, I’ve eventually learned to recognize, then avoid, hazardous material and live a fairly normal life. Then August ended and the 9/11 anniversary loomed. Suddenly every station was airing a news magazine program, documentary or dramatization about that horrid day, and everywhere I looked was a grieving child, parent or spouse. I’m not proud to say I checked out entirely, days before the actual memorial. I would have had to commit myself otherwise.

Sure, easy for me to say. Still, my weakness shows no signs of abating, and soon enough I’m bound to turn into one of those dramas I’m so put off by. Is this a common affliction? And when, my husband would like to know, will it start to ease? Will I grow up with my children and, perhaps by graduation day, be able to sit down with them as a family to a showing of Breaking Dawn?

I hope so, ’cause I’m dying to hear what happens.

(Photo: iStockphoto)