The Weight of Worry
In many ways, I’m not easily fussed. I think as the youngest of four children, I learned early on that you just sorta have to get on with things…figure it out…do your best and hope no one notices when you f*$& it up. And on the outside, I probably appear pretty easy-going and laid back. I really try to be. But let me tell you a dirty little secret…underneath this cool exterior*… I’m a worrier. I worry so much that I worry about worrying. It’s a problem.
*I hope you know that this is a joke…anyone who knows me knows, my exterior is anything but cool.
At any given moment, there are 36 things I am actively worried about. The good news is that most of these things are completely out of my control (and generally involve hypothetical traffic accidents or midnight intruders), so it is a totally productive emotion and doesn’t drive Brado crazy at all.
Nothing has made this little personality trait more pronounced than becoming a mom. You could say that motherhood has taken my worrying to new heights. And speaking of heights, have you ever been on a tall ledge/cliff/building/tree/bridge with an energetic and unpredictable toddler? = Worry
I love to think that I am special and unique but, alas, I know I am not. I am supremely human. And **news flash** I am not the first woman to have ever had a child. Which leaves me wondering, if I feel this endless weight of worry, how many millions of mamas before me have felt it too?
While I have no scientific evidence to back this up, my gut tells me that most mamas out there are worriers. I figure it must be some sort of evolutionary survival strategy that prevented infant mortality back in the cave-man days. Now, of course, worrying serves no actual purpose. It is just another thing preventing you from getting a decent night’s sleep. Whomp whomp.
We worry. All. The. Time. We worry about whether or not our kids are warm enough, eating the right foods and drinking enough water. We worry about their teeth and their eyes and that little scar that just doesn’t seem to be going away. We worry about them being left out or, perhaps worse, them leaving others out. We worry about the now; like whether or not they ate their lunch or said “please” to their teacher. And we worry about the future; will they be successful in their career and will they develop healthy, loving relationships?
And of course there is the mother of all worries…the worry that we are totally f@#$ing this whole parenting thing right on up. That our children might be a tad-to-totally messed up and that it might be our fault. The one where you think, “if I had just handled that differently (or, inevitably, better), my child would be better off right now”.
Then there are the worries that we don’t dare even speak of. The things we can’t bare to imagine, let alone write down for fear that, somehow, we will jinx ourselves.
Of course you can’t give any of these worries too much breathing room or you will go insane. Like, seriously insane.
We consider ourselves fortunate if our worries do not have to be loud and all-consuming; if our children are healthy, safe and we can provide for their basic needs. But the worries are still there…in the back of our minds…a low, steady hum of worry. A quiet, but constant whisper in our ear while shopping at the grocery store, or while watching our kid play at the park, or while making that left-hand turn on the way home from work…there is always an undercurrent of worry.
I think it is safe to say that most mamas are about 5-7 worries away from being locked up in a mental institution and put on a steady drip of Valium (attn: medical doctors…is that even possible? If so, can you hook a sista up?). We intimatelyunderstand this type of emotional torture. And yet if you ask these anxiety-ridden women if they would do it all again, I’m pretty certain they would all respond with a resounding “Yes!”. A million times over. Yes!
Because being a mother is heartbreaking and breathtaking, horrible and awesome, confusing and clarifying, exhausting and energizing all wrapped up in one little ball of unconditional love. And there is nothing like it. Fact.
And while I am worried (naturally) that this post will be a little too heavy for some of you, I think it high time that we acknowledge that this mothering shit is hard. Emotionally hard. Physically hard. Cognitively hard.
With that, I officially declare today, October 25 (or October 24, depending on your time zone), International Hug A Mama Day.
Because we are freaking basket cases. And we need you to tell us that it is all gonna be okay! It is your civic duty.
Ok my friends…go forth and prosper…errrr…hug mamas!