Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Life in the Rocking Chair

"Worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives your something to do, but never gets you anywhere."
~Erma Bombeck

Which bedding set should I get for my baby, that I have yet to even hold in my arms?  Which diapers should I use?  Do I let him cry it out or go in and comfort him?  Should she be crawling yet? Walking? Talking? Should he go into Young 5s or Kindergarten next year?  Is she ready for a sleepover yet?  How much do I help him with his science fair project?  What if no one asks her to the dance?  What if someone DOES?  Which college will he choose?  How will we afford it?  Is he really "the one" for her? From before they are born, until they are parents themselves and beyond, we worry.  Rock, rock, rock...yet we get nowhere.

I am a worrier.  I admit it.  I'm not proud of it, but worry seems to creep into my thoughts whenever it darn well pleases.  It's just there.  It's what we do as moms.  We worry about our kids.  We worry about things we can't control.  We worry about people they have yet to meet, obstacles they have yet to face, challenges they have yet to overcome.  We know we can't be there with them at every moment, and so we hope we are preparing them the best we can to go out and face the world, whether that world is the other kids playing on the playground at the park, the new roommate they meet for the first time as you move them into their dorm room, or unknown co-workers at a first job halfway across the country.

There is such a wide variety and so many options when it comes to worry.  Don't you worry...I seem to have mastered them all.  Let me share a few pages from my personal worry book...

The "I Can't Believe I Did That!" Worry

Scene: Driveway of our day care provider's house on a cold, dark December night, after picking up both of my children.  Life has been overall hectic, and I have just wrestled my oldest (who was 3 1/2 at the time) into his car seat, which took quite a bit of force and effort.  Both kids are successfully strapped in.  I am beyond ready to get home.  Push button on automatic door to close.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!!" I say as I turn in slow motion and see my car keys lying on the front seat.  Check doors.  Locked.  Tightly.  All of them.   

"Hey, buddy!  Do you think you can reach your arms out of your straps?!" said hopefully, playfully, as if it's a crazy new game mom invented.  Continue miming how to do this outside of his window.  Son looks at me as if I'm crazy.  He tries, to no avail.  (Note: In the long run, a good thing.  If he could get himself out of his 5-point harness car seat on his own, that is an entirely different set of worries...)

Walk to day care providers front door.  Knock, knock, knock.  "Um, yeah, I know you're trying to start dinner with your own family after an entire day with other people's kids, too, but do you think you could call a tow truck for me?"

Thank goodness our day care provider was a good friend from high school, who stood out in the cold with me with a flashlight waiting for the tow truck and did NOT later call child protective services on me.  Tow truck arrives, and I realize I have forgotten my wallet at home.  Call Mom to get her credit card number to give tow truck driver, and tell her I will pay her back later.  (Thanks, Mom!  You're the original Good Mom!! :)  The fun just never ends, right?

That one was even in my control, so to speak.  It was something I did, and unfortunately, it was not the first or last time I will be guilty of pulling something like that.  The lesson I learned here is don't beat yourself up over it.  It happens.  We're moms and it comes with the territory of being human and having a million things on our plates and on our minds at once.  Get up out of the rocking chair, work to resolve the issue at hand and move on.  

The "What Will They Think?" Worry

Scene: Our little family of 4, the secretaries, and the principal, in the office of my son's preschool, also a K-6 school, the Friday before Christmas break. The secretary has asked my preschooler what Santa will bring for Christmas.  She has asked him about what Santa will bring him, his sister, his mom, and is now asking about his dad.

"I think he'll bring him tools.  He really likes to build stuff."

"Really?  That's neat!"
"Yeah.  He works in the garage a lot.  And this summer, we're gonna build a bat house together! (Note:  This is actually true.  My husband has talked with my son about this upcoming endeavor.)  It's gonna be so fun and I'm gonna wear special glasses and use tools!  And we're gonna catch bats in my bat house from our backyard so we can eat the bat meat (Note: This was NOT part of any conversation my husband has had with him about this upcoming endeavor) and...."

I have no idea what he said after that.  Excuse me...did he just say we would catch the bats and EAT THE MEAT?  Did he just tell the school secretaries we would EAT BAT MEAT?  Seriously?!  Worry sets in...oh no...are we going to be the crazy bat family?  We are going to have children at this school for the next 10 years!  

Thank goodness my aunt is the principal in this scene, and thank goodness the secretaries are the sweetest, most amazing women on the planet, and my aunt just started laughing right along with my husband and I as we all looked at each other.  She saved the day and jumped in with "Where does he get this stuff?"  I'm sure we will inevitably be come to be known as the "something" family over the years, but at least for now, it's NOT the crazy bat family.  

The lesson I learned here is learn to laugh at it.  There is no way we can control the things that come out of our kiddos' age 2, at age 8 and most definitely anything that ends with "-teen."  We can't control what other people are going to think of us or our kids, either.  We shouldn't even try.  Get up out of the rocking chair, laugh over whatever goofy/embarrassing/off the wall thing that was said or done, and move on.  

The "Is My Kid Gonna Be Alright?" Worry

Scene: Our house, the weekend after school was out for summer vacation.  Loud "crash" noise comes from my son's room, as I'm in my daughter's room, trying to get her to nap.  Immediately followed by my husband's swift steps up the stairs.

My husband, extremely calmly.  "Carrie, get her dressed.  Grab your keys.  I need you to drive us to the emergency room."  

My heart sinks.  My stomach drops.  My mind is racing.  What happened?  Is everything OK?  Obviously not... (Note: I can handle a lot of of bodily fluids from my kids.  Poop.  Pee.  Boogers.  Puke.  Spit up.  You name it, I've been covered it.  And sometimes in a combination of the above.  Does not phase me in the least.  Except BLOOD.  I don't handle blood so well... like I faint.  Not good.)  

My incredible, calm, level-headed husband is taking care of our son and helping to calm him down and reassuring him, all the while trying to keep me calm.  He has his head wrapped.  They are both covered in blood.  I am worried beyond words, but do my best to get myself and my daughter buckled in the car and ready to go.  As it turns out, my son was running into his bedroom, and either slipped on something or just tripped, and fell and hit his head on the baseboard of his bed just above his eye.  He got a pretty good sized cut, 5 stitches, and now has a faint scar that he loves to tell people about.  

All 4 of us end up spending a few hours at the ER, complete with Toy Story and Popsicles.  When the ER doc comes into our room, he looks at my husband and I and asks us what happened.  Our son pipes up from his bed, with his wounded, wrapped head (he honestly looked like a little miniature Civil War soldier...) and matter-of-factly remarks "I got in a fight with my bed, and the bed won."  

Thank goodness for my incredible, calm, level-headed husband, who got our son through the actual stitches as I took our daughter out to the lobby...and worried the entire time. The lesson I learned here is be there and be present the best you can.  Just having you there and present will do wonders for your kiddo, even if you are scared and worried yourself.  Get up out of the rocking chair, love on your sick/injured/hurting kiddo like crazy, provide comfort and support, and move on.

There are so many other worries that rear their ugly heads throughout the day or night.  I'm guessing that most of you out there have your own to add to this list, too.  If not, please let me in on your secret!


Even now, my 83-year-old grandpa still worries about my 60-year-old mom. Are you OK driving across town by yourself?  Did you get your power back after the storm?  Do you have an umbrella if it rains?  So I guess it never really stops...we never really totally get up out of the rocking chair.  It's just one of those things that comes with being a mom.  We worry because we love them.  We worry because we want the very best possible life for them.  We worry because they are a little tiny piece of us living out there in the great big world.  We worry because we wish we could make sure that everything will always be "OK," but we know we can't.  We just have to be by their side and love them through it all, no matter what.  

But this post is not just about worry.  It's not just to give you more things to worry if you needed that.  
It is to put it out there, so that we know we are not alone in our worry.  To focus on what we can control, and hopefully to provide some encouragement.  

Let love guard against worry.  Take heart in the knowledge that your child is loved beyond words and that they know that.  They can feel it in a way that they don't always show and don't always say.  Sometimes they even say it to the contrary.  

(My 2-year-old daughter cried all the way home the first time she came with me to drop her older brother off at preschool because I wouldn't let her stay at school with him.  After we pulled out of the parking lot, she yelled at me "I need a new mommy!!"  Oh yeah...those teen years are gonna be a ball of fun with this one!)

But no matter the words they sling at us, or the actions they take to try to say otherwise as they assert their independence and try to find their place in this world, they KNOW they are loved.  They know it in a way they can't even put into words.  It is comfort.  It is a warm blanket wrapped tightly around them, even when you are not there.  That is the very best gift we can give them.  They have worth.  They are worth loving.  That sticks with them.  

All those "what ifs...".  All those uncontrollable factors out there.  All those obstacles and challenges they have yet to face.  All those things we worry about in the middle of the night or the middle of the day, for that matter.  All those things do not compare to this one simple truth they know in their soul:  I have been, and continue to be, loved unconditionally.  No matter what they face, what they come up against, that is with them.  YOU have given that to your child...and no amount of worrying can take that away.  

So tonight, let your mind rest at ease, if even for a few minutes.  Let go of the worry, just for a short while.  Give the rocking chair a break.  Know that your child is loved in a way only YOU can love them, loved in a way that can never be taken from them, loved in a way they will never forget.  They will be ready to face all that this world has to throw their way.  Not to say there won't be obstacles or challenges, but that infallible truth of a mother's love will be there with them.  Always.  

Don't worry...You Are a Good Mom.

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