Sometimes when I feel like giving up on a challenging parenting task I stop and ask: “What would Zombie Apocalypse Me Do?” What would I do if there was no one around I could call for help?
Yes, we are fans of The Walking Dead on Tinkerbell Road. In the story there is a baby whose mother is gone and the team of survivors in the zombie wasteland are left to keep her fed. Even the toughest dudes pull Daddy weight with the little one.
Last week, in the real world, I was giving our 1 month old a bottle while Mom was out. He wasn’t taking it. More appropriately, I wasn’t doing it right. We were both frustrated. In the back of my head I knew that I could call her. It would be so easy. But there I was with a child, a bottle of good breast milk, and nothing but time on my hands. As an At-Home Dad there are many times like this during the day. The fact Mom was on maternity leave and I could call in help was all too tempting.
Before I gave in I imagined a world where I was my child’s last resort, his only hope. The two of us alone in a zombie apocalypse. I knuckled down and did my job. (Apologies to my would be zombified wife in such a scenario.) A phone call to a relaxing mommy was not necessary.
I also recognize that there are many people in the world living their own apocalypse. Refugees, survivors of domestic violence, torture, and other horrific things. I could think of friends who at one time huddled with their child in the Sudanese brush, the jungles of Burma, or the rescue mission down the road. To think that I would cry UNCLE when a little trouble came my way? I can buck up and make it through.
The idea that people in our real world are faced with such adversity can be emotionally crippling and in some cases too close to home. In the South, we have a notion that if we think about bad things happening they may in fact come true. It’s best we don’t focus on a situation that could come true for us or anyone. So it’s safe to pick a scenario that’s fake. Imagining fictional people in a stressful reality that will never exist can be a safe way to imagine a scenario that inspires perseverance.
This is important for me now because next week Mom goes back to work and my caseload will grow from one to two. I will need to bolster my nerves for a whole new set of challenges.
Feel free to join me and use this the next time you are feeling like the baby won’t eat or sleep and the buck stops with you. If you are not into Zombies, think of your own alternate world where you are the only one left who can help your child. You can get the job done. You can pull through. (Even if you hear scratching and moaning at the door.)