Monday, June 6, 2011

The Worrywart: Kryptonite for Supermoms?

Last week was full of many what ifs for me. While I may not look like your mainstream worrywart, trust me--the warts are there, buried under anxious mommy shoulders and buckling mommy knees.

In general, I don't lie awake at night biting my nails over my health, or gas prices or paying bills, or even death. I wouldn't say I spend a ton of time agonizing over what people think about me. You know, the average worries. I've realized lately that just because I don't brood about the popular worrisome issues, it doesn't mean I'm not a worrywart.

For me, as a mom, worrying and control seem to go hand in hand. I don't worry much about the things I know I can't control. But if there is something I think I can control, then my mind goes wild. For some reason, I usually end up worrying for my kids. I think it's natural to worry for our kids; we want them to be happy and healthy, we want them to have a million friends and never skin their knees. But I'm already realizing that even when I have the best intentions and try to do everything right, I will never control their fate.  My worrying causes needless anxiety for me, and in turn my anxiety is often reflected in my kids as well. 

In the past week, two prime examples jumped out and revealed that my furtive fears for my kids are often unwarranted and make me feel silly in retrospect. I am not proud to admit that I waste time thinking about things I can't control, but as a mother it is a battle I fight constantly.

Last week our family spent four days at camp with around 280 other friends from our church. I was very excited to go spend time away from routine with our family, to not worry about meals to plan, laundry to fold and I was especially excited about the luxury of having Daddy away from work and all to ourselves.

I must admit though, I was more than apprehensive about the schedule, which called for several hours of nursery time during each day. I have never been a fan of putting my little ones in the nursery, and no it isn't just because of the germs they might acquire there (although the germs are usually invited to the party!)

Call it a fault, but there is something gut-wrenching about dropping off a young one in the nursery while he is screaming your name and digging his nails into your arm. I don't enjoy it. The thought of my baby crying for hours on end while I am listening to a speaker or enjoying coffee with my husband is initially not my first choice; I have to step back and convince myself to do it after some anxiety and prayer.

The short end to this scenario is that my little guy was fine at camp. Did he love being dropped off for little bits at a time? No. Did he survive? Yes. (Thanks to great nursery workers!) Will he remember being left in the nursery for a few hours while I enjoyed some much needed adult interaction and lovely conversation with my husband? No. Once again I am learning perspective; in the big picture, the time I wasted worrying about the well-being of my little one would have been better spent elsewhere. We had a great week and spent scads of time together as a family of 5—little guy included. He may have even learned in a small way that our family dynamic doesn't entirely revolve around his little world; an important lesson that he might as well start learning now.
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While coming down from the fun of family camp, we returned to church classes that were promoting everyone up to their new fall grade level. Anxiety once again reared for me as mommy since we recently decided to keep our big guy back in Kindergarten, although many of his friends are promoting to first grade. I know he will be fine in his new class in his big school, but I thought the church transition might be tough. I tossed and turned about how this traumatic event might cause him pain and suffering and wondered if I needed to brace him for the change or pain that might ensue on Sunday morning. He is a pensive thinker and I wondered how it would all go down.

Sunday morning came and went. I carefully asked a few probing questions after his morning class; he shrugged his shoulders and ate his lunch. Later in the evening when I picked him up from his evening class, I was amazed to find him running around and actually leading a game in the gym. He can't wait to go back next Sunday and even enjoyed having his younger sister join him in class. Imagine that.

The thing is, “If anything bad can happen, it probably will.” Even if I am constantly afraid of running out of diapers or lacking a spare kid outfit or having a flat tire on the highway or running out of my morning coffee or milk going bad, those things are still going to happen. Because they can. I can keep my kids carefully buried deep under my wings, protecting them from every potential outside danger, but they will still fall down and get hurt when I'm not looking.


I can do my best to prepare and be organized and have a back-up plan, but I can't control it all, and I shouldn't control it all! If I never leave my house for fear of all the scary things I anticipate happening, then what am I teaching my kids? Isn't it better to teach them that bad things will happen and show them we can respond in a calm manner? Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

I'm not saying we'll never have another nursery meltdown or that I won't pick up the phone to call when I leave my kids for the night. I'm a mom. There are plenty of things to worry about as moms and dads because we are entrusted with a huge responsibility as parents; I'm hoping I can learn from moments like these and perhaps someday become as adaptable and flexible as my 5-year-old.



"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

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