Before I had kids, I rarely thought about catastrophes and world disasters. I was the typical young and carefree person who really believed that nothing bad would ever happen to me, and thankfully, nothing ever did. So I was surprised at how having my daughter turned me into an instant worry wart. Once she was born, I was worried about SIDS, her sleep schedule, if she was getting enough nutrients and if I’d be a good enough mother.
As she got bigger, I worried about blunt falls, head trauma and sicknesses. When she was one year old, she came down a severe case of bronchiolitis and was hospitalized. At age 7, she took a tumble off her bike and suffered a concussion and a broken tooth. Now that she’s older and on her own, I worry about car accidents and strangers. As much as I would like to keep my troublesome thoughts to myself (and I try very hard to do just that), I probably let out my worry from time to time which is exactly the opposite of what I intend to do.
And then I worry about that!
I keep an open line of communication with my kids so I feel that I don’t really hold back on anything. They know exactly who I am, faults and all, as I do them. But I do hold back on random doomsday thoughts that sometimes take over my mind. I’m not alone. I heard a psychologist on television yesterday explaining how to talk to your kids about the recent tragic events in Japan and he said that worry is not something that is even remotely new with moms. He said he has had several parents in his practice over the years, who admitted to feeling in a state of bliss when they looked at their babies, but then immediately imagined something horrible happening. It’s a result of the natural part of the huge and overwhelming abundance of love that comes from being a parent.
I don’t know why or how I got this way after having kids, but I would like it to stop. I would love to be that mother who is laid back, a mom of real free-range kids so to speak, but I just haven’t been able to do it.
Outwardly, you’d probably never know it. I let my kids go on sleepovers, eat lunch without first basking in Purell, and don’t throw a fit over a cough or sneeze. I have a friend who washes down the entire house at the first sign of a sniffle and won’t allow the sick family member, including her husband, to touch the phone while under the weather. Other moms worry about terrorism, global warming, getting into a good college and contracting incurable diseases. I’m not at all that way … but I am on the lookout for the speeding car and falling tree limb.
On the work front, I’m a pro. As an editor, I didn’t care if we had 10 blank pages and were going to press in minutes, I knew that together we’d always find a way to make it work. No project was too big or messy to get a hold on. Professionally, I am known as being calm under pressure and I am….so what is this incessant fear and worry surrounding my kids?
The thing is that I just cannot fathom any of my children getting seriously injured or God forbid anything worse. I try my best to hide this from them because I don’t want them to become worriers themselves.
Being a news writer has actually helped me see just how many news stories are media driven hype that are based so loosely in truth, they should be considered works of fiction rather than news reports. That helps lessen my anxiety a lot, so much so that I would never even consider getting potassium iodine pills from the supposed radiation that some say may hit the U.S. but ultimately won’t.
Ironically reading about other moms that worry makes me feel better and not so crazy, like this piece from Parents:
“Worry is part of the dark underbelly of parenthood, the flip side of joy, pride, and fulfillment. The part they never really warn you about — that you’ll discover a fate worse than your own death. Worrying is right up there with providing food and buying cute dinosaur pajamas.”
Well, if that’s true, I should relax … it’s practically a job requirement and boy do I excel at it.
What worries you most as a parent? And perhaps, more importantly, how do you deal with the worry?
Read about the personal struggles 6 other parents try to hide from their kids.