Worrying about Worry

Carla: First an official announcement: We are lice-free and have been for more than a week. I am declaring us done!!!! We nailed those suckers fast and never heard from them again.

Second, lice have now taken the top spot on my “things I hate about motherhood” list. The former champ has moved into second place. Want to know what it is? Alright I’ll tell you. I hate the paranoia. I hate how worried I am all the time, the dull anxiety that flits around every day and every situation. I used to be reasonably carefree and now I live with this vague sense of dread. And I hate it.

When I first became a mother, I was nearly paralyzed by the worry. I didn’t know how I would manage to leave the house, drive a car, leave my child with a sitter. And while I have obviously done all of those things, I am never completely at ease.

The worst part of paranoia is the dreams. I mean, even in sleep I can’t get away from my own worrying brain. A couple of night’s ago I dreamed my sweet boy was in a boat on an icy lake. He fell in (of course) and I jumped in to save him, struggling to hold on to him while swimming through the frigid water to get us both to shore alive. I hate those dreams.

And before anyone feels the need to tell me I just need to trust God, please know that I do. I really do. I believe that God will hold me up should anything actually happen to one of my children. I believe (perhaps a bit less) that God will sustain my children should something happen to me. But that doesn’t stop the worry, the fear, the awful sense of dread. So tell me my sisters (and Steve), what helps you deal with the paranoia of motherhood?

Caryn: Congrats on the delousing at your house(ing)!

I have to confess: As a mom, I’m not a huge worrier. Doesn’t plague me. It’s NOT because I trust God so much because I do worry about other areas of our life. Like finances. (Years ago, I prayed that God would help me “connect” with the “give us this day our daily bread” part of the Lord’s Prayer and, OF COURSE, that’s the one prayer that God decides to wriggle his nose and bob his head for me on. Thanks, Jesus. Love you too.)

But as a mom, I don’t, for example, panic when they’re away from me. Take last week: my in-laws took my kids to the Wisconsin State Fair (the very same one the hero mayor of Milwaukee got clubbed at) for the day (glorious!). Someone asked me if that “worried” me having them trapsing around some weird fair in another state without me. Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me to be worried. Not to say I didn’t shoot up a couple prayers for their safe travel and that they’d have fun, but I didn’t worry. I know they’re in good hands with my in-laws, etc.

But now that I’m thinking about this, I realize that as they’ve gotten older, new worries have bubbled up. Mostly to do with the ways I’m messing with their lives. Like when my daughter tells me she wants to live in one of those “shiny” houses, I realize that maybe lack of housekeeping skills will indeed ruin her life. Or when my son spends these last few weeks non-stop terrorizing his sister (the shiny one), I worry that this is how seriel killers start out……

But for me, the worrying isn’t a constant. I have to think about it. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’m worried about that.

Carla: Maybe only good mothers worry.

I was thinking more about this, how really this is a control issue for me. The stuff I worry about is so random, so out of my hands, that it drives me crazy. I take no comfort in knowing that the vast majority of child abductions are done by people known to the child. Sometimes a stranger grabs a kid and in my mind, there’s nothing to say that won’t be my kid. Same with freak accidents and illnesses and boats drifting in icy lakes. I want so much to keep my babies safe and I get all paranoid when I think about all the ways I can’t.

I suppose it’s part of the process of letting kids grow up–realizing that you don’t have control over everything and that something awful might very well happen to them. I would love to know how other parents get to that place because I’m sick of having this knot in my gut all the time.

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