As a parent, it is in our job description to worry.
It is a natural emotion most of us have from the minute we hold our newborn baby for the first time, until we take our last breath.
Experts will tell you that it’s not productive or healthy to worry about things you cannot control, which would perfectly describe my husband. He goes to work, and while he certainly loves our children no less than I do, he’s not worrying about them all day because there is nothing to worry about. Makes such sense, doesn’t it? Worry when there is a reason to.
However, chronic worry is literally the thought process of an anxious parent. An inescapable mental anguish that is always playing in our head no matter what we are doing.
We will essentially live vicariously through our children, going through all the scenarios of their day, overthinking things that other parents may not even consider. Things we certainly cannot control.
This anxiety worsened for me when my kids began school and I no longer had total power over their day.
Of course, we all hope our children have a good day at school, do their best, don’t get into trouble or get bullied, and so on. Normal thinking. That is where my husband lies.
An anxious mom like myself will pay attention to the clock, aware of when our kids are outside, remembering the details of what clothing they wore in hopes they are warm or cool enough.
We will think about their lunch and hope their bagel didn’t get soggy, or their drink didn’t leak; we will worry they will fall and crack their head on the ice at recess (dark, I know); we will imagine them taking that test we studied for together and hope they are writing it with confidence and not a tummy ache.
We will worry their mask is making them feel suffocated (ohhh, 2020, you as*hole), we will feel palpable anxiety when they feel it, and it will, quite literally, ruin our day if they go to school anything other than happy.
Many days, I sat in my car and cried after drop-off when my son was dealing with major separation anxiety.
We will overanalyze that leg pain they had, or the headache, and let that fear fester. The list is neverending. It’s exhausting.
These traits in no way make for a better parent. It certainly does not mean we love our children more. I wholeheartedly believe we all love our children equally, and we do the best with what we are given. I envy parents like my husband, who can remain so damn calm about everything.
The sole purpose of this post is not to give you advice on how to fix this; I want to help you learn to cope in the ways I have.
Firstly, by reminding you that you are not alone if you relate to any of this. By telling you how important it is to be transparent with people, so you don’t feel isolated.
Find someone to have real talk with, someone who won’t judge you. I’m fortunate to have that, and it’s been my lifeline.
Those days of crying in my car were followed up by a message to my best friend who could fully relate and, therefore, make me feel sane. She didn’t try to fix it; she just listened, understood, and reminded me to breathe—snapping me out of it.
If you don’t have anyone you can talk to about your anxiety, I suggest you either find a professional if you feel it isn’t manageable or talk to me—really. My door is always open (not literally—global pandemic and all), but you can message me anytime.
You would be surprised how many people can relate. So many parents on socials are only showcasing how wonderful life is all the time and it just isn’t real or relatable. Yes, my life is blessed as hell, but we need to talk more about the not-so-wonderful aspects of being a parent that make us human.
The entire purpose of this article is to help people feel heard. I posted something similar to this on Instagram when I was on there, and do you know what the most common response was? Thank you.
Take a deep breath; you are doing amazing, mama, and you are not alone.