Parenting: The Never-Ending Worry

As a self-proclaimed worrywart, I may have chosen the wrong life path by being a parent. Nothing keeps you on your toes that wondering, hoping, and worrying about your kids. And my number one worry? Their health. Because not only am I worrywart but I’ve also been known to be a bit of a hypochondriac. Floaters in my eyes? Oh my god—I’m losing my vision! A ringing in my ear? I must be going deaf!

The never-ending worryOver 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) the answers to these four questions:

  1. What am I worrying about?
  2. What is the worst thing that can happen?
  3. What productive actions can I do to lessen the worry?
  4. 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) about 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 with being a parent? Do you tend to worry more, or have you found a way to ease the “what if”s?

Nina

Nina is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she's learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn and play, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Download her free ebook, "Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom" for more tips.

Comments

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    CommentLuv badge

  1. says

    I definitely worry more…about everything. Especially since my little one has delays, there is a constant worry about how much I am doing, will he ever catch up, etc? And now I’m pregnant again and the worry starts all over. I try to be better and not stress about every little thing – as a mom I’m actually very laid back…but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about him all the time!

    • says

      I hear you, Lisa. I do my best not to show my kids I’m worried, and any time it seems like he’s concerned when he shouldn’t be, I say that it’s *my* job to think about it, not his. And yes, pregnancy does little to ease worries! All the what-ifs :/ Good luck with your pregnancy mama, and so good to hear from you again!
      Nina recently posted..The never-ending worryMy Profile

  2. Emma says

    I have always been a worrier too and parenthood has only increased my worrying! I worry mostly that I’m not doing enough, that she’s missing out somehow by not getting every toy and every experience. She doesn’t go to preschool so I worry she won’t be ready to kindergarten, then she’ll struggle in school, get frustrated, give up and drop out by 5th grade. lol- irrational but I do seriously worry…alot. I like your technique of asking yourself questions to try to tone down the concern a little. I’ll have to try it!
    Emma recently posted..Dino Sensory BinMy Profile

    • says

      Emma, with my first kid I had those worries. I would make sure to have some sort of “curriculum” so that he isn’t behind. I think it’s a sign of a concerned parent when we actually care enough to worry; it’s when we compromise our own health and sanity that it becomes too much :)

      Having had more kids, I’m not too concerned with milestones and giving them exposure to learning tools. I think it’s the lack of time on one hand, and also the knowledge that 99.99% of the time, it will probably all even itself out. Still… with twins it’s hard not to compare when one does something first. It’s like, “Hey, why haven’t *you* started flipping on your tummy yet, mister?” Haha!
      Nina recently posted..The never-ending worryMy Profile

  3. says

    I worried much more when I was pregnant, the unknown was so scary, I just wanted my baby to arrive healthy and I was super anxious and nervous for the whole 9 months. Then it got worse when Madeline was a wee one because she was so vulnerable to everything, but after the one-year mark I eased off. Now that she’s more sturdy and can sort of tell me what she wants, my only usual worry is if she’s eaten enough for dinner. I know it will get worse once school starts, though, mostly because of the bully epidemic that’s surfaced recently. We lucked out on having a healthy kid too, 15 mths old now and no colds yet!
    Queenie recently posted..New cards!My Profile

    • says

      Queenie I wonder about bullying in school too. Right now my kiddo is in a Montessori preschool and since their classes are small, I think they’re very good about not putting up with bullying. Once he hits elementary and especially middle school years though, I’ll be on my toes!
      Nina recently posted..The never-ending worryMy Profile