I come from a long line of professional worriers. My mother being the leader of her worrier tribe. I often remember rolling my eyes behind my mother’s back as I stepped outside excited to play or meet up with a friend, as I heard her list of warnings about the world. I always thought it came from her surviving a revolution in her country. When she was growing up in Guantanamo, Cuba, walking outside could be a dangerous thing. I remember vowing to myself I would not be a member of her worrying tribe. I thought I wouldn’t, but it was not until I became a parent did I understand what worrying really was all about.
My son spent time in the NICU after he was born due to breathing issues. He was born full term, so this came as a huge surprise. As a first time mother, I had to leave the hospital without my baby. It was my first big worry. Would they hold him when he cried? Did he know he was loved? Did he miss me? Would he get better? All these worries ran through my head 24/7 until my husband and I brought him home. I remember my mother-in-law being there, waiting to greet her new grandson. As she held him I told her how I did not need to worry anymore because he was home. She lifted her head and looked me in the eyes. I saw compassion and a bit of pity. Then she said, “I’ve been at this mother thing for forty years. The worry doesn’t go away, it just changes.” Those words shook my soul. Was I doomed to be a worrier for life?
My mother-in-law’s words are so true. As my children have grown I have found other things to worry about. Just this week my son had the flu. It was a typical illness-fever, headache, cough-nothing I couldn’t handle. Thanks to my own mother, who stayed home with him so I could go to work. I knew in a few days he would get better and our family routine would go back to normal. Until this past Friday, when he wasn’t getting better, but getting worse. That old familiar friend, worry, came charging back into my life.
My son wasn’t eating, his fever spiked to an all time high this week, and he had no energy. I took him to the doctor, and since it was a virus we just needed to wait it out. My worries began to build. Can he catch up with all his missed school work? can I help him feel more comfortable? and what if he doesn’t eat anything and never gets better? Then our heater started acting up and the repair person couldn’t come out until Monday. So, another worry joined me and I thought if the heater stopped working, how could I keep my sick child warm. Just like a broken record these worries replayed in my mind. I have become a full fledged member of my mother’s worrying club.
As my worries were swimming around in my head I noticed my six year old daughter on her back on the floor with her arms and legs in the air laughing. I asked her what was so funny. She took my hand, walked me to the kitchen window, and pointed out to the backyard to a water sprinkler covered in snow. She thought it was hilarious that an object used in the warm months was frozen to the ground. My thoughts turned to worry again- “It’s already March how did I not notice the sprinkler. I hope it works. Great, now I’m probably going to have to buy a new one in the spring. What a waste of money.” For some reason, probably from worrying about the sprinkler, I then asked my daughter how the sprinkler was feeling right now. She just let go of my hand, and said, “Does it matter? It’s not real.” With that I began to laugh. As I did I felt some of my worries float away. Just then my son walked into our warm kitchen and told me he was hungry.