Motherhood Screws You Up. Big Time.

Motherhood has changed me. And not in all those mushy ways. In bizarre unthinkable muffin-top ways.



I have never been afraid of heights. EVER. I can look over ledges. Heck, I could STAND on ledges and jump into lakes.

I go on roller coasters. I’ve been rock climbing without rope. (Shut up. I was in high school. Stupid is acceptable.)

But whenever my children walk to the edge of a bridge to look over? I get weak in the knees and feel like I’m going to pass out. The world tilts and I see blonde women. (Hitchcock reference)

I’m actively trying not to vomit on my son. Also who let me out of the house in parachute pants?

I’ve even tested it. Scott stood with the children away from the bridge. I went close. For me? No vertigo. Scott tossed the kids over the edge and right before they hit the water? TOTAL VERTIGO.

(Actually, we just let them look over the edge again. Which also caused vertigo in me. And way less drama and wet clothing for us.)

I didn’t even understand what the feeling was at first. It’s been happening since E was little. But because I had NEVER EXPERIENCED IT BEFORE, I ignored it. (Also? Denial and me are friends that go WAY BACK.)

But between Alfred Hitchcock and medical school, it dawned on me. Vertigo.

Or more accurately: Vertigo-by-proxy

I’m pretty sure this is where I’m supposed to draw some grand conclusion about motherhood and hormones and the underlying cause of vertigo and make millions of dollars.

But my daughter’s near the window so I’m just going to pass out instead.

I was interviewed for Studio 30+ (a site for bloggers over thirty. mostly to protect us from the twenty-year-old hooligans.) by the awesome Andygirl.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

22 thoughts to “Motherhood Screws You Up. Big Time.”

  1. Yeah, I think it’s a Uterus Override Switch Issue. Vertigo by proxy sounds clinical enough. It’s the internal Mama remembering labor and saying “I’m not doing that again to replace this one…save the baby!”

    Fashion notes: You are rocking the parachute pants. I first read that and said “Yeah, she’s wearing a parachute. Check. No, Backpack.” I see a woman of child bearing age wearing a back pack and see it chock full of bottles and diapers and sippy cups. Cleaning supplies that would rival a HAZMAT team. A complete change of clothes for everyone in the party including the husband. And snacks. Maybe some humus. You can never have enough humus.

  2. Yup, motherhood is a strange thing. Like when I used to go on roller coasters and scary rides and love them, but now I can’t because I’m afraid it will break, I’ll die and my kids won’t have a mom. Seriously.

    Loved your post (as always) and a great interview, too, at Studio 30+! 🙂

  3. First, it’s awesome that you/we can love our children enough to acquire psychophysiological conditions or disease states (<— that should be on a t-shirt by the way). Second, who said parachute pants are out of style?! THEY'RE MAKING A COMEBACK! *shifty eyes back and forth*

  4. Well can’t say to much about vertigo by proxy. I have always been a little afraid of heights. But it doubles when I see my daughter wanting to run and look over said bridge or when she wants to see if she can fly and tries to jump head first off the bed or couch. Oh and I loved your interview it was great. So will we ever get one sneak peek at one of your poems? Or is there one on the site that I have just over looked?

  5. This is not good for me – AT ALL. I am TERRIFIED of heights – always have been. I have literally had a PANIC ATTACK on the 6-foot ladder. I have said panic attacks when strangers look over the edge of things. I have them when they show people on TV looking over the edge. Seriously. Not even kidding.
    Will I literally have a heart attack and die when my son goes near the edge? I’m staying away from all bridges and high places when he is around. I don’t want to find out what will happen to me.

  6. Vertigo by proxy sounds completely plausible to me. I can’t even go up a freaking escalator.

    Parachute pants…I once rocked a pair with a kabazillion zippers in an unfortunate shade of brown. Not a pretty sight. But at least you aren’t wearing a fanny pack!

  7. My husband and I used to walk across the Mackinaw Bridge every Labor Day. Once I had my daughter , however, I could not take her in a stroller as I kept thinking that the stroller would go over the side of the bridge. Thinking that, I was quite nauseous.
    Fast forward many years: my husband , son and I biked across the Golden Gate in San Francisco. I told them to go on ahead and I’d meet them on the other side. I’d learned my maternal imagination could be stifling.
    Through the years I have allowed my kids to function normally, but did try to provide them with all the necessary tools (for example: swim lessons together with smart decisions). Both are athletes and are now college age. But the worry and the fertile imagination are here to stay.

  8. OMG!! Tis so true! I’m glad you’ve given it a name. Normally my family and I just refer to it as Tonya-has-turned-even-more-neurotic-then-she-was-before syndrome. I have to wear those little anti-moving sickness bands if I’m going on anything that even remotely has motion.

  9. I’m happy that the Hitchcock viewing came to your rescue faster than the medical training did.

    Cause you know I’m all contrary and anti-establishment that way.

    Vertigo-By-Proxy. Like Munchausen-by-Proxy with a view.

    I have Back-Seat-Driver-by-Proxy: where you are terrified that other cars will jump median dividers or cross three lanes of traffic to run over your child.

    And Hansel-and-Gretel-by-Proxy: where you are convinced your children will get lost taking routes they have traveled a zillion times and get lured into a gingerbread house by a registered sex offender who offers them iTunes giftcards.

    I don’t recall studying those disorders, ever…but…isn’t the DSM-VI coming out soon? I’m sure they’ll be there.

  10. Vertigo-by-proxy!!! That’s exactly what I have too! I am certain, whenever my kid walk down a flight of stairs, that he will tumble head first. Of course, I also have fantasies of myself doing that… so perhaps the by-proxy part, not so much.

  11. Dude, your pants rock and I totally can’t sleep anymore. Just can’t. I am just walking zombie version of myself now. Any noise or slight sound stirs me and I wake up. No matter how tired or what time it is, if the kids are with me I can’t sleep. Went to BlogHer and Type A Mom and slept like a ROCK!. WTF?!

  12. I think that vertigo is a sign of mini-panic-attack. I am so not diagnosing you with GAD. I think it’s normal, a motherly instinct, the fear of possibly losing your children.

  13. I haven’t been to medical school but that sounds like anxiety to me….
    I get a vertigo like feeling when my kids go near a balcony or railing also… but my doc says it is anxiety related… no vertigo.

    And I actually DO get vertigo if I look over a ledge or balcony. So, I hear what you are saying…
    But reading your other posts it seems to me like you are a supremely concerned parent and it would only make sense that you would experience A fair amount of anxiety if your child is near a potentially fatal falling over a ledge scenario.


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