Tuesday, June 25, 2013
What was I Thinking?
Okay, so for the record, I love my children. Literally would walk through fire-fight to the death-make voodoo dolls of anyone who breaks their hearts- love them.
But seriously, what was I thinking?
I haven’t stopped worrying at all for the last fifteen years, 9 months, 9 days, and 19 ½ hours. Sure, the level of worry varies; sometimes it’s practically undetectable, sometimes it’s at the “will they make it through High School” level, and sometimes it’s the “what if they get swallowed whole by an escaped Anaconda while walking the dog” intensity. Regardless of the level, the worry is the constant in this variable equation(a term I had forgotten until I had to re-learn it because I was worried about my son’s math final).
Did they get enough sleep?
They don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Did they do their homework?
Why won’t they brush their teeth?
Will he get a hit in the game?
Why don’t they LOVE to read like, apparently, every other child in the world according to their parents?
Did they do their laundry?
Are they smart enough?
Do people like them?
Are they respectful?
Do they like themselves?
Did they do their laundry?
Will they go to college?
Will they be able to take care of themselves?
Will they get someone pregnant?
Will they be able to hold down a job?
Will they be happy most of the time?
Will someone love them?
Will they ever do their laundry?
Keep me up at night worries…
Will they wind up in a clock tower?
Will they go down on the Titanic II?
Will they be stranded on an island after trying to deliver a package?
Will they ever make enough money to just buy new clothes when theirs get dirty?
Choosing to have children is choosing to worry. Yet another reason why aliens of higher intelligence are on other planets laughing at our lack of evolution in repeatedly making this choice; at least until their spawn crashes the time travel pod after drinking too much Klingon Blood wine and vomits acid on the custom Corinthian leather seats.
Of course we don’t know when we set out to start a family that we are embarking on a life-long hands-on study of the art of worrying. We are blinded by rosy cheeks and the new baby smell of other parents’ children. We revel in Johnson & Johnson daydreams of reading on the hammock with willing tots, of baking cookies while adorably dotted with flour, of homeruns, ballet recitals, and the inevitable valedictorian speech where we are thanked and given a spontaneous standing ovation by all the other parents and the surprise guest Oprah who wants to feature us on the next cover of O magazine.
Of course if we didn’t start out with visions of sugar-plums in our head, the species would eventually die out, because who, in their right mind would willingly choose to worry to this extent? I mean my husband and I willingly chose to make a human being…twice. A human being.! Not just a good student, or a good friend, or a good reader, or a good laundry-doer; a good human being. I never realized until this moment how arrogant I am to think I am up to that task.
And to throw gas on that arrogance bonfire, my worrying really has little to do with them, and, ultimately, all to do with me. What I’m truly worrying about is “am I doing a good enough job for them?” And, miraculously, they answer that on a daily basis with the touch of a hand when I am sad over the loss of a loved one, with the offer to make me a grilled cheese sandwich because they just learned how, with the way they smile and shake the hand of someone they’re meeting for the first time, and with the way they reluctantly carry their laundry basket down to the washer. Yes, the worry is balanced by moments of incomprehensible joy, and I find the courage to face the trenches again.
Worrying accomplishes nothing. It is an accelerant for a fire on a 97° day. It is real, and it is not going away. Yes, I choose to worry, but it is worth it, because yesterday he did his laundry.