This past weekend, Isaac and I had a rare night out. Nothing fancy, just cheap sushi and a Saturday night movie, but it’s always special when we get to have some time for just the two of us. The best part of the evening, really, is riding our bikes there and back, bike lights flickering. We take the side streets to avoid traffic and it feels just like it was when we first met.
 
Of course it’s been many years since we first met. As proof, our toddler, Tokki. We are one-baby deep into a grown-up world and being a mom has changed me in many ways.
 
One way I’ve changed is the way I react to stories, in news or otherwise, where children are harmed. Given a choice, I’d want to avoid them. Instead, on Saturday night, we walked into a theatre to watch Looper.
 
I didn’t know anything about this movie except that it had gotten decent reviews (plus, Skyfall was sold out). I was simply happy to watch anything, the more commercial and action-packed, the better.
 
I knew Looper had a warning of violence, but what it didn’t have was a warning of violence involving children.
 
In my old life, I don’t think I would have known to make the distinction.
 
The film’s premise, which involves time travel and assassins, is definitely a clever conceit and it was stylishly shot, but had I known that so much of the film, and all its attendant violence, would revolve around a small, chubby-cheeked kid, I would have opted for something else.
 
Since becoming a mom, I’ve lost any desire to watch movies or read books that involve a child suffering. But on the other hand, when I’m reading the news, I immediately, regrettably, am drawn to the gruesome stories of real-life tragedy and kids.
 
The contradiction doesn’t make sense. But there I was, all summer long, reading tragic stories of children drowning. When I read about domestic violence or car crashes, I read to see whether there were children involved or left behind. When the unspeakable horror of the New York nanny story surfaced a few weeks ago, I followed the story as it developed, every day, hating that I was reading it all the while. Why do we do this? The Globe and Mails Katrina Onstad wrote a very thoughtful essay on why we, as parents, obsessively want to know about the very thing that terrifies us most – harm befalling our children.
 
I admit I’ve followed the Krim story too closely, which doesn’t make sense considering I would have avoided Looper had I known the story involved kids. But one is fact and the other is fiction. Perhaps that has something to do with the ways in which our minds compartmentalize stories.
 
All I know is that I never really knew what it meant to worry until I became a mom. I’d never loved anyone as fiercely or felt so charged with responsibility.
 
These new emotional heights are a good thing. I recognize that I now draw from a deeper well of emotion. I’ll have to remember that that’s a good thing and that being a parent has made life that much more precious, rich and worthwhile.

See all of Hannah Sung's posts here.

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