A Mother’s Worry

I say I don’t worry, but that is really a lie.

I worry constantly.

Maybe not all-consuming-life-wrecking worry, but “is that normal?” and “what if…” creep into my mind when I least expect it.

It’s usually when we are playing.

He’s 8 months old…shouldn’t he be crawling?

He’s three and a half years old…shouldn’t his speech be correcting itself by now?

Most of these worries are ridiculous because as soon as these milestones I fret about happen? I cry.

I want them to both grow up happily and healthy and…normal.

Normal.

What does that even mean?

It’s something we mothers beg God for…”Let our babies be normal“.

What if something happens to Eddie at daycare and I can’t get to him?

What if Charlie is not getting his needs met at this age the way Eddie did because Cort was home full-time back then?

What if Eddie gets bullied?

What if Charlie’s roll down the stairs did something to his little brain?

What if someone tries to hurt Eddie? Will he tell me?

What if someone tries to hurt Charlie?  How will I know?

The things that are not happening and may never happen cause my heart to hurt and my stomach to turn.

If I let them, they will keep me up far into the night and invade my dreams when my body finally demands sleep.

They are the reason I can’t watch some of what used to be my most favorite crime shows like Law & Order SVU and why certain news stories get turned off or avoided in our house.

They are the reason I did not talk about the little boy who died in an accident during my school’s homecoming parade.

Some things I can’t face because they start a chain reaction of chest-tightening, feet-sweating, panics.

If it can happen to someone else, why not me?  Why not my family?  Why not the people I love?

Most teenagers think bad things can never happen to them.  They are “indestructible”.  This was never my view of life.

When someone told me taking drugs would kill me? I believed them, and consequently have never done a drug in my life.

But what if my boys do drugs?

What if they lose their way and can’t come back from bad choices?

What if I lose my sons?  My babies?  My heart and soul?

All of these thoughts happen in just a snippet of a moment.

Eddie could be pretending and I am captivated by how sweet and innocent and wonderful his small world is.  His easy smile, his doe eyes, his mop-top head.

And then, just like in the movies, my mind scrambles and horrible, awful worries seep in.

Intrusive thoughts.

Charlie could be sitting, reaching for an object and he eases to his tummy to see if that will help.  He is so small.  His happiness depends solely on his needs being met.

And suddenly, the eye of my mind zigs and then zags and I have anxious visions.

I worry about their present.  The present I can’t control because I am not a part of it.

I worry about their future.  Something I will never be able to control, but can only do my best to shape parts of.

I worry about comments like, “You can barely handle two, what makes you think you should have more?”

I worry about things I know are not true. Or at least I am 99% sure are not true.

But for some reason, I let those untrue…or not happening…or not going to happen (probably) worries consume me…even though, logically, I know it is for naught.

If a friend of mine wrote this blog post, I would shower her with, “you’re a great mom, and you know that” and I would be tempted to say, “you know you shouldn’t be worrying, so don’t!” but I would more than likely say, “me too”.

Although inside, I would want her to quit worrying if she knows she shouldn’t worry.

That would be the hypocrite in me.

Sometimes when I am feeling my worst, I hate to see my reflection in other people because I don’t want that to be me.

But it is.

I worry.

I have intrusive thoughts about what could happen.

Not what I might do, but what others…or the world…or my boys’ choices…might do.

I envision the worst and I am left drained and depressed and tired.

My psychiatrist recently asked me if I was having any intrusive thoughts and I said no because I thought he meant like I wanted to hurt my family.  I don’t have those thoughts.

But I do have another kind of intrusive thought.

The kind about everything else beyond my control hurting my family.

I know staying home with my boys would not fix this {I suck at being a stay at home mom, remember?  And they love daycare}.

Because new fears would crop up to replace the old.

I know giving into my fears is not a possibility.

Because I can’t shelter them forever {nor does the completely rational part of me want to}.

However I can’t shake the way my brain runs off on its own and scares me nearly to death.

*************

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About Katie Sluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Oh I know what you mean. Sometimes I have all those same thoughts. So much so, I feel like my heart and chest will explode. I feel my anxiety start to creep up but somehow I find a way to push it away. I guess this is just another part of motherhood. Thank you for sharing Katie!

  2. Me too, friend. Me too. I could have written this post only substituted my 4 year old for all of what you said. And there is that part of me that says, “She should stop worrying! She knows this isn’t possible!” but I would have to say that to myself too. It does help me a little to write them down and tear them up when they get really bad, but it’s not perfect.

    Recently near here, there was a little boy who was hit and killed in a parking lot. Ever since then I’ve been carrying Darling Girl through parking lots. It looks as silly as it sounds, but it makes me feel better. So yeah. I totally know where you’re coming from.

    Love you, friend. <3

  3. I worry ALL THE TIME. I’m worrying about Monkey’s significant speech delay right now. Then I have the same kinds of worries you have – what if what if what if, it drives me nuts sometimes.

    So I’m here to say “Me too.”

    xoxo

  4. we all {or at least I do} have those same thoughts as well. I worry about random crap I can’t control. I feel like I need to walk them to school every day of their life otherwise they may not come home – and that freaks me out beyond anything. I worry about not spending enough time with them right now while I get myself put back together – I’m hoping they don’t remember quantity but quality of time. I also no longer watch what used be a favorite show here as well because the stories make me crazy with worry.

    xoxo.

  5. There was a time in my life that was supposed to be the most carefree, and instead I spent the day swamped by similar thoughts. I spent every “free” moment crying in the bathroom feeling like I was going to throw up. I did a short stint on anti-anxiety meds, but they weren’t for me. My GP finally told me something along the lines of, “The thoughts will always be there, but you have to do what is needed so that they don’t control you.” Somehow, this helped pull me together and rather than 2-3 panic attacks a day over these things, I can count the number of debilitating attacks in the last 4.5 years on my hands. Don’t get me wrong, the worry is still there and is sometimes stronger than others (I think it’s part of being Mom), but thankfully they don’t cripple me like they used to.

  6. I understand this very much…as a mom and a wife. My mom and both of my grandmothers were VERY YOUNG widows..and I worry very much about losing John, about carrying on my ‘family tradition”. Then there was the infertility..and all the things that came along after I finally DID get pregnant. I guess I am used to waiting for the other shoe to drop. I worry that even when I’m happy and fulfilled that it won’t last. But the anti anxiety meds help me with that.

    sure I still worry…about John, about Gio and Jacob, about anything happening to the people I love..but I also know that there is very little I can do about it and the best thing to do is just LIVE..and LOVE all my boys for as long as I have them.

    This touched a very sensitive spot in me..thank you for writing it. I may get my own thoughts out because of it.

    xo

  7. I have these thoughts on the daily. It’s in a mother’s nature to have intrusive thoughts. Honestly, the mothers who don’t have these thoughts? I worry for them. It’s not to say that having these thoughts is easy. It’s so very uneasy. And it sucks. But we’re human.

  8. I worry about my guy and all he will have to deal with as he grows up. Worries about his future can fill my prayers.

  9. So I am not the only one? My middle son has mental health issues, sometime I wonder if I hadn’t taken medication while I was pregnant would he be “normal”? What if the strife he causes in our house affects the other 2 boys? What if I am not around to help him cope with things? What if the baby falls and hurts himself? What if the oldest starts doing drugs or gets mixed with the wrong crowd? I understand your thoughts completely. Now if I only I could get them to stop.

  10. A little thing I learned in therapy that I have to be very mindful of is being present right here and right now. Tomorrow…the next hour…yadda yadda hasn’t even happened yet. You waste energy by thinking to far ahead of yourself.
    We all have these fears. It comes with being a parent. Sucks…but just keep thinking that you’re right here and right now…not tomorrow.

  11. TheNextMartha says:

    Awe. Hugs.

  12. Me too. To every single word you wrote. I used to be a newspaper reporter and I thank god that I got out of that job before I had Ryan. I would not have been able to shut off the news the way I can now. Certain stories haunt me, make me physically ill. I can all too easily picture these things happening to Ryan, and it’s almost enough to shut me down. I don’t think that ever goes away, does it? *hugs*

  13. I think, as mothers we worry and it never, ever goes away no matter how old our children are… I’ve asked my mom about this, about her worrying about my sister and I, she told me as much. You put into words what so many of us feel from time to time. A mother worries — always. Sending hugs.

  14. First of all, congratulations on the BlogHer feature!

    This is an awesome post and you are definitively NOT alone. I think it’s built into our DNA to worry. These are each very valid concerns. It’s hard to escape the “what ifs” in life. It just is.

    Sending love and lots of understanding. xoxo