Growing up, I went to Catholic school, dutifully and regularly going to confession wherein we admitted our wrong-doings to the priest. I’ll never forget how much I’d tormented myself about the 3 check-marks I’d received for doing unapproved cartwheels in gym class (resulting in having to write a term paper about hockey, I still don’t understand hockey), and how relieved I’d felt when I was told God had forgiven me for those blissful but sinful cartwheels.
I can’t explain why, but there truly is something cathartic about making a confession: to a co-worker, a friend, a significant other. It gives us the chance to unload a burden, and hopefully receive forgiveness, or the reassurance that we’re not alone.
Today, I need to make a confession: I am a worrying mother.
I don’t mean things moms normally worry about, like playing in the street, running with scissors, drugs. I’m world-class at worrying.
For example, I worry about things like whether or not I may have had a toxin overload while I was pregnant with my daughter, and if that affected her IQ. What if she doesn’t make it in to the college of her choice because there was too much fluoride in the water? I mean, she may be in advanced classes now, but one day it could all come to a screeching halt and it’ll be because I drank caffeine that one time!
Most people laugh off all the conflicting information we receive about what to eat and not to eat. Are eggs okay? Did I recently hear that bread was okay again? What’s this about wine being good for you? Not me. I’m seriously worried that I’ll get it all wrong and my child will end up with an autoimmune disease because I didn’t know which lettuce to buy.
Last spring, after basketball season was over, my 12-year-old child was in phenomenal shape. I asked my husband if he thought she was too thin. He said, “no, she’s looks fantastic. She’s just been working out 7 days a week. You have nothing to worry about.”
Instead, I worried. And bought her a giant bag of Starburst in an effort to put some “meat” back on her bone. (And subsequently worried about everything scary that is probably in Starburst.)
The truth is, though, that I want to stop worrying. You can imagine that we worriers have more than just parenting on our minds. We worry about the stock market, terrorism, global warming, politics and aging parents. Sometimes I’ll even indulge in my latest obsession and worry about Armageddon and The Illuminati.
I probably have enough worry and anxiety stored up for the entire human race, so if you’re a worrier, you can stop. I’ve got you covered.
Part of me knows that I’ll never truly let it all go, but the other part of me knows that the healthiest thing I can do is to at least let some of it go.
I’ve tried so many things throughout my life—medication, yoga, meditation, prayer, exercise (albeit not consistently, let’s be honest), diet changes, journal writing; yet, I’m still a gigantic worrier.
The truth is that if I, and people like me, don’t get our worrying to a more manageable level, it can steal our joy. I sometimes feel robbed of a moment when I look on it in hindsight, because I realize that when I should have savored a sunset at the beach, I was worrying about whether or not we’d worn enough sunscreen that day (an then of course, worry about what was in that sunscreen).
I do take some small comfort in knowing that, from the time our children are born, and we’re up all night checking to see that they’re still breathing, until they leave for college and we’re up all night wondering if they’re still alive, we’re joined by millions of other moms doing the same.
To any other chronic, extreme worriers, please raise your hands, let me know I’m not alone. In the meantime, today I’ll relax with a glass of wine. But first, I just need to quickly worry about all those sulfates.