The worrying chain of events
As parents we tend to worry about lots of things. I worry that Elliot might have a bad day at preschool, that he might decide to hit a classmate or roll around on the floor rather than stay on his cot. I worry that he will fall off his chair at dinner time because he keeps leaning backward. I worry that he’s not eating enough protein during the day or getting as many dairy servings as he needs.
Worrying is inherent of parenting. After all, according to Elizabeth Stone, having a child “is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Given that truth, how can we not worry?
Almost a year ago, I blogged about how I worried, before he was even born, about Elliot going to kindergarten. Now that kindergarten is quickly approaching, I have a worry list as long as Rapunzel’s hair when it comes to him entering “big school.”
But, lately, I’ve found myself worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, and I’m talking, things that are way in the future.
For example, I recently read Rick Epstein’s Dad’s Eye View column “A Confusing Time for Boys.” In it, he discusses how a certain boy has been calling his 11-year-old daughter. From the context of the piece, I inferred that aforementioned calls are going to the household land line.
I started thinking about my family’s lack of a land line. My husband and I have only cell phones. We haven’t had a land line for years, since before Elliot was born even. When he’s in kindergarten, it’s fine to give the school my cell phone number as a primary contact. But, what about when Elliot’s older and he wants to make and receive calls? Is he going to give girls my cell phone number? Or, his dad’s number? Or, (gasp!) will I have to get him his own cell phone? At what age is that OK? Then, I’ll have to monitor his text messages and phone calls to make sure he’s not saying or reading anything inappropriate. Oh, and I’ll have to make sure he doesn’t have Internet or Facebook on his phone! Because, then, he might be targeted by a sexual predator. Or, what if he ends up as a sexual predator?! Ack!
This snowball of thoughts is what happens when I start worrying. It is the perfect example of why, when Elliot was a baby, I had to stop watching “Intervention,” a TV show that profiles drug addicts and their family’s attempts to get them sober. You can think I’m crazy, but hear me out on this one first. Every episode would start out with the drug addict’s history, beginning with how happy he or she was as a baby. During their interviews, parents would cry and lament about how Billy’s childhood was so wonderful, and then, a turning point – a car accident, a death in the family, a divorce, an unplanned pregnancy. Whatever the case, the proverbially happy child or teenager would start down a dark path populated by his or her drug of choice. My motherly brain started having irrational fears about Elliot’s future. What if I did something that prompted Elliot to start down a “dark path?” I had to quit “Intervention.” Wise decision.
All of this reminds me of the current DIRECTV commercials that use this chain-of-events scare tactic, if you will. Take the “Don’t Have a Grandson with a Dog Collar” one, for instance.
Yes, it is funny, but I actually relate to it because this is how I think sometimes. If this happens, then that will happen. And, if that happens, then surely this disaster will occur, and so on and so on.
Despite how many times I read Matthew 6:25-34 – the “Do not worry” passage – I still do it. I know deep down that, ultimately, Elliot belongs to the Lord and that God is in control of all things.
My friend Robin recently suggested that all new mothers could benefit from an “anti-worry pill.” I say, all mothers, new and old, could use it. Or, maybe, we could all live by Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” If only it were that easy.
Originally published on ovparent.com.