Parenting is hard, kind of like juggling three balls and hopping on one foot for an extended period of time. Parenting with anxiety is also hard, only throw in some knives with the balls you’re juggling, a banana peel under your hopping foot, a circus menagerie running through your legs, and a full episode of 24 complete with an earth-shattering explosion playing on a constant loop, all orchestrated by your darling offspring—and your mind.
That’s because parenting with anxiety is a constant exercise in expecting the worst and making the most out of nothing. And by nothing, I mean things like these:
Forgetting to check that the kids have brushed their teeth before bed. Now you’re sure they’ll all wake up with a debilitating case of gingivitis and heart disease to boot.
Watching your kid climb to the top of the jungle gym. And then calculating how long the drive to the emergency room is, because it’s not a matter of if, but when. Let’s just hope it’s not during rush hour.
Noticing your children have gone to school without hats. Then spending the rest of the day certain their brain cells will freeze on the playground.
Cleaning and bandaging the scraped knee your kid got when he fell of his bike. All while crafting the response you will deliver to Child Protective Services when they show up on your doorstep to remove your progeny because of neglect.
Allowing your child to suffer the natural consequences of choosing not to do her first-grade homework. And tossing your dreams of her ever making anything out of her life into the trash with her unfinished worksheets.
Letting your kids have more than an hour of screen time. Then worrying they’ll turn out to be antisocial psychopaths incapable of empathy and lacking in interpersonal communication skills. Because screens are the devil—the internet said so.
Not forcing your children to eat their vegetables that one night. Surely a single meal without vitamin K will render their bodies devoid of any nutritional sustenance whatsoever, right? Damn you, spinach, and your bitter taste.
Turning your children’s car seats forward facing before 12 years of age. I definitely should have left them sitting backwards. Who cares if their legs were so long they were gnawing on their kneecaps? Safety first!
Leaving your children unattended in the bathroom. Is puberty too early to leave them unattended? Because I’m pretty sure anything before age 18 is asking for trouble. Just think what could happen in there: the slipping, the falling, the—wait—never mind.
Letting your kids play outside alone. And then spending the entire minute and a half they are late in returning imagining they’ve fallen into a forgotten well somewhere or been stung by a swarm of killer bees and left for dead.
Seeing that your children have put something from the ground in their mouths. You don’t have poison control on speed dial for nothing. Better check to see if they have hepatitis, too, while you’re at it. (They totally do. I know it.)
Noticing your child has shoved her entire meal in her face at once. And then spending the next several seconds trying to remember how to do the Heimlich. I am not losing my beloved to a miscalculated bite of food. Not today, soft pretzel. NOT TODAY.
Watching your kids grow up way too quickly before your eyes. Soon they’ll be too old to need you anymore. And you’ll spend the rest of your days alone, surrounded by cats and despair.
Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating quite a bit. Regardless, if you are a parent with anxiety, you can’t deny that it does raise your stress level. And your wine bill. Dear God, don’t forget about that.