Confessions of a Worry-Wart

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It’s been a long, painful (in various ways) week. My boy hit his head hard on a concrete floor on Sunday. (I heard the sickening impact.) My mother’s heart was wound tighter than a spring as I watched him for signs of confusion, sleepiness, etc. Also, Ian started antibiotics earlier this week, but near the end of the course of the medicine he developed the same symptoms that made the docs put him on the antibiotics in the first place, leaving us questioning whether he is truly healthy. In addition, I muddled through a small bout of a stomach bug and spent Sunday through Tuesday unable to move without lots! of pain in my neck. The pain lessens each day, but still remains almost constant. For some reason, this has been a week of feeling the monstrous weight of full-time loneliness that being a stay-at-home-mother can sometimes invoke. Finally, Daniel and I have spent months thinking about a major decision which will impact me greatly in the coming year. (No, we’re not having another baby.) This decision must! be made within the next few weeks, and we still lack important information… so very frustrating.

All these things have my head spinning and my motivation low. I’m prone to worrying instead of confidently concluding that it will all be ok—like Daniel does, so I find myself feeling pulled down, hardly able to smile and make conversation with the kids because I’m so entrenched.

Most of us have heard about the effects of stress/worry on the body, and I have certainly felt those effects over the years. The problem is when I think about the effects of stress on the body, I then start to worry about those effects on my body and how they’re shortening my life thus only adding to my worry, the effects of which shorten my life, a vicious cycle and very upsetting to think that I’m probably throwing hours (days or weeks?) of my life right down the drain.

I’ve tried to think about the millions upon millions of other people who have “real” troubles, much greater than my own, but it still does not ease my worry. I’ve tried to channel my worrying energy into prayers, but sometimes it feels like that only feeds my worries (not all the time, but sometimes).

Usually, when I’m close to the end of my worry rope, Daniel sits me down; and after I spout off all of my what-ifs and God-forbids, he then reminds me again that everything is as it will be and that I can’t change anything by worrying. And so this time around, I decided to try to find a new venue for my worrying energy. Instead of reviewing my what-ifs and mights like an annoying kid’s movie on automatic replay, I decided to take an entirely different approach to my worries. I decided to write a list of things I’m thankful for, 50 things that prove the goodness in my life. So here they are.

 

50 things I’m thankful for…. (in no particular order)

  1. sustaining faith
  2. Daniel
  3. Alice
  4. IanIMG_6112
  5. motherhood & pregnancy
  6. able to live my dream of being a stay-at-home-mother
  7. family (I could use the remaining 43 slots listing family members, so this space includes parents, siblings/in-laws, nieces & nephews and MUCHO extended family)
  8. love
  9. community & church
  10. forgiveness & grace
  11. HUGS
  12. laughter
  13. friends/deep relationshipIMG_2663
  14. our house
  15. our dishwasher!
  16. clean water
  17. temperature controlled environment for our living space
  18. two cars
  19. access to medical services
  20. food (lots of it) for energy
  21. chocolate and ice cream (yes, chocolate & ice cream deserve its own enumeration since they are definitely part of my reason for living, while broccoli, green beans, etc are necessity.)
  22. restaurants (ok, so what I’m really thankful for is a break from cooking—this would also include eating at someone else’s house)
  23. sound mind
  24. schools/higher education
  25. ability to read
  26. books to read
  27. computers/email (since I’m not a phone person)
  28. opportunities- the world can be my oyster so to speak
  29. able body
  30. nimble hands/fingers for gardening, cross stitching, piano playing, typing, buttoning buttons, so much more
  31. new-found running enjoyment
  32. all my senses (I was recently helping in Alice’s classroom, and they were discussing Helen Keller. It was interesting to hear first graders deciding which sense—vision or hearing—they would rather live without if they had to. Most of them wanted to be able to see instead of hear. But that brings me to the next item I’m thankful for.)
  33. Music
  34. Faure’s Requiem and my favorite composer, Rachmaninoff (Yes, this is music, but it’s music that stirs me like none other and so it deserves its own spot.)
  35. my own ability to make music – singing & piano playing
  36. sleeping through the night!!!!
  37. foam memory pillow (which will be one of my next purchases) and my bed
  38. Sunday afternoon naps (and the other naps I occasionally slip in during the week)
  39. nature’s beauties – I could easily fill up the remaining blanks listing the things I love about nature, but I’ll try to limit myself to only a few
  40. waterfalls, streams & rivers

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    I was the one taking the picture – not at the top with Daniel and his brother.
  41. mountains (hiking mountains)
  42. lightening (not while on a mountain or in a field)
  43. fall – changing leaves
  44. flowers & trees
  45. gardening… and here I will end the nature theme – I think 7 slots is enough tribute to the great outdoors, but as you can see, I’m definitely a lover of nature
  46. the opportunity to watch my kids learn new things
  47. slow, relaxed days
  48. babysitters
  49. date nights
  50. each breath of each day

 

Dear Worrier, I will take care of you and your loved ones. Remember how far I’ve brought you, and look at what I have given you. Peace be with you.

 

Afterthoughts

I wrote this post about a week ago. While some of the situations from the first paragraph have changed for the better (my stomach and neck are better); a lot of it is the same with additional circumstances that could be stressful. My boy is still sick, but the docs keep telling me it’s all viral. He lays there and cries without Tylenol and some form of entertainment (a video or a “book reader,” which happens to be me). I feel so helpless. (I was going to stuff this post full of pictures, but my time has been spent fulfilling nursing duties instead of browsing and editing pics.) But instead of worrying, I’ve tried to continue focusing on the good things—like the 20 minutes Ian spent playing with his toys last night. And in doing that, there has been a lot less space for worrying.

What about you? What are you thankful for? What stirs your soul and resounds the goodness of your life? If you take some time to think about that today, you may find  your load a little lighter.

Am I a Helicopter Parent?

It was a normal evening. We had just sat down to eat supper, and I was busy cutting Ian’s spaghetti when the phone rang. As usual, Daniel jumped up and answered. The long silence after he said “Hello” led me to one conclusion—telemarketer/would-you-like-to-take-this-survey?-representative. During the silence, Daniel walked aimlessly toward the living room like he always does when he talks on the phone while I thought “Just say you don’t want anything and hang up already.” When he finally spoke, I heard him say “Sure, let me get her for you,” and saw him amble over to my side of the table. I gave him an annoyed look, thinking to myself why can’t you tell the telemarketer we don’t want any… do I really have to do this?, and I put my hand out expectantly.

BUT… Daniel didn’t put the phone in my hand. Instead, he walked past me and stood beside Alice. In my mystified stupor I heard his voice say, “Alice, you have a phone call from Jane.” Then it all clicked… the piece of paper with a phone number on it in Alice’s backpack yesterday accompanied by Alice telling me she wanted a playdate with Jane, which I tried to (apparently unsuccessfully) gloss over.

As I sat there, months… then years flashed before my eyes as I pictured a teenage girl rolling her eyes and quickly taking the phone from Daniel, angling her body away from us while muttering under her breath, “Hi Jane, we’re eating supper right now. And my old fashioned parents have a rule about not talking on the phone during supper, so I’ll have to call you back in 20… bye.” But that’s not what happened.

Alice elatedly said “Hello” to her friend, sat and listened. “Yes, that would be fun. I would love to.” I heard her say in a voice that was way more mature than her six years affords. “Ok, but I’ll have to check with my mom and dad first,” came next. I think I actually would have been quite proud of her phone etiquette if I hadn’t been so dumb struck at the sight of my SIX year old having her first peer/non-family-phone conversation, apparently setting up her social calendar no less.

on the phone
Alice’s first phone call at 4 years old from her cousin wishing her a Happy Birthday. Daniel and I both know our first non-family- peer phone came quite a bit later in life – probably closer to middle school. I feel so old!

The rest of the call is somewhat of a blur. Somehow through the crazy phone dance that had begun earlier I ended up on the phone with Jane’s father, a very warm and friendly man who wasn’t reeling from the fact that our first graders were planning their social lives together. I, on the other hand, sounded halted and unsure of the situation, even to myself.

Jane’s father told me Jane was hoping to have a playdate with Alice this weekend. Now, playdates and this serious introvert don’t mix… period. Sitting in a complete stranger’s house for one to two hours getting to know someone through small talk while my kid runs around his/her house is possibly my worst nightmare.

I can do small groups of “unfamiliar” adults; there’s less pressure for me to keep the conversation going. In fact there are two mothers of kids in Alice’s kindergarten class that I’ve gotten to know through this type of small group meeting, and I have grown to enjoy their friendship over the past two years. When we set up the very first playdate (initiated by the other moms, not surprisingly), it was easy to see that we (the moms) were all on the same page. We were not about to let our child go to someone else’s house without at least getting to know the person in question and seeing the surroundings where our child would play.

But as I talked to Jane’s father, I got the impression that this was not going to be a time of adult interaction in addition to our kids playing together. I was expected to either 1. drop my kid at Jane’s house and leave her there for two hours or 2. welcome Jane into my house for two hours (which certainly isn’t a problem).

But let me give you some background information. Early in her kindergarten school year, Alice was invited to a birthday party for someone we didn’t know. Daniel and I decided then that Alice would be accompanied by one of us (usually me) to strangers’ houses until she was eight years old (this would put her in third grade). Last year, every time Alice was invited to an unfamiliar place, every mom readily understood our “policy” and would say they had similar standards, and would then add… Please! feel free to come to the birthday party along with Alice. In fact, why don’t you bring your other children as well if you have any.

When I finally out-right asked Jane’s father if this was a drop-off or if he was expecting me to stay and visit, he said he didn’t feel the need for us to try to entertain each other for two hours (HUGE sigh of relief from me). But if Daniel and I stick by our policy, that leaves Jane coming to our house every time she and Alice get together until Alice is eight years old—or at least until we “know” Jane’s parents better.

I don’t have a problem with this, but Alice was heart-broken when we said Jane was coming to our house. Of course, going to someone else’s house is way more exciting than having a friend come to your own boring house. So I’m positive! that the next time around we won’t get off the hook so easily by telling Alice what we did the other night….“These are the arrangements. Either take it or call Jane back and tell her she can’t come.”

So my question is… Are we being helicopter parents by putting forth this policy of limited socializing with families we don’t know personally until Alice is eight years old? Am I so out of touch with current social formats that everyone else is dropping their first graders at other people’s houses without a backward glance and I don’t know it? Are mis-guided trust issues getting in the way, robbing Alice of exciting, independent experiences? Am I overly jaded by Alice’s elementary school which mandates any volunteer (under teacher supervision—no less) needs to have a criminal background check and child abuse clearances? Or maybe I’m too influenced by society at large which teaches us (women especially) to be fearful of everyone from police officers to priests? And what role, if any, does wisdom/trusting your instincts play in all of this?

And so I’m asking you, my readers, what do you do/did you do about letting your kids go to friends-but-strangers’ houses? How do you/did you handle it? Or if you don’t have kids yet, what did your parents do and would you do it differently? Apparently, it’s never too early to start thinking about this. By the time you have kids, there might be drop-off playdates for one year olds… just saying.