Over the years, I’ve toned down both the worrying and jumping to conclusions, and having kids has ironically helped that happen. After all, the last thing they need is to see their mom freaking out and needlessly worrying. Still… the desire to keep them from any harm means that I’ve signed up for never-ending worrying until probably forever.
Thankfully, all three of my kids are extremely healthy. My eldest son didn’t even catch his first cold until well after his first year (most kids average six to ten colds per year!). No one has any chronic illnesses, and the twins didn’t even nened to stay in the NICU despite being born prematurely. My husband and I have also maintained a healthy lifestyle. For a hypochondriac, this helps temper my anxieties…
…For the most part. You see, because we’re so healthy, I’ve done both of the following: 1) I think that this is too good to be true and am just waiting for when the ball drops, and 2) I feel down when any little thing happens. Right now, I’m on number two. For instance, my three-year-old has been complaining of a tummy ache, has been using the potty more frequently and had a slight fever last night. When I’m so used to him hardly being sick, it throws me off balance when he does eventually catch something.
Another issue getting me down is that one of the twins has a birthmark on his back. It’s not as large or as dark as I’ve seen on others, but I’m still concerned about whether we need to remove it or if it’s dangerous. We’ve never had to deal with hospitals or chronic illnesses; at most, we went to the emergency room once when our then-two-year-old was walking with a limp (that went away in a day).
Throughout all this worrying, I remind myself of what we do have: we’re still healthy and strong, happy and alive. Colds and flus come and go, and my little babies couldn’t be any healthier. Because when things hum along so peacefully and nicely, it’s easy to focus on the one or two negative things and forget the other 99% of our lives that remains wonderful.
Another exercise I do with worrying is to consider (and even write down) the answers to these four questions:
- What am I worrying about?
- What is the worst thing that can happen?
- What productive actions can I do to lessen the worry?
- After the spell has passed: What ended up actually happening?
Running this exercise in my mind helps put the worries in their place. In almost all cases, the answer to number four only proves that number one was nothing to worry about. Number two just goes to show how unlikely anything terrible will really happen, and number three helps me remain practical (and calm when there’s nothing I can do about it).
Yet another way I calm my nerves is to remember past times when I went overboard with worry only to realize that everything worked out in the end. For instance, I remember the stress I put myself and my then-18-month-old son because he had a slight speech delay. I laugh at how stressed I was during that time only because the same kid who almost went into speech therapy can hardly keep his mouth shut these days.
And to think that I’ve only been a parent for about four years, fully knowing that the worrying doesn’t stop even if our kids are adults. With that in mind, I recently read a wonderful quote: “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.” And that truly is the most important lesson I’ve learned (and continue to learn) when it comes to worrying. “They’re healthy and happy,” my husband reminds me. “Let’s enjoy them.”
p.s. One day after writing this post, my little guy’s tummy ache is gone
What are your biggest worries when it comes to being a parent? Do you tend to worry more, or have you found a way to ease the “what if”s?