I remember when I was pregnant with my first child; a girlfriend told me that I would never be carefree again. She said it casually, just offering up what every mother-to-be should know, but her words hit me hard. I panicked – went into a state of prenatal terror at the prospect of losing my carefree-ness. What would it mean? Would I never again drive my convertible, blasting music, hair streaming out behind me, without a care in the world?
After a moment, thinking about it, I realized I was never really that carefree to begin with. I would have liked to have been, but I was born a more obsessed worrier kind of girl. And now I just had one more thing to worry about – losing the fancy-free-ness I never had!
The fact is, my friend was right. Once I became a mother, I became so ‘full of care’ that in comparison to pre-mother me, I might have been the most footloose person on the planet. I broke out in hives the day I brought my first son home from the hospital, the realization of the responsibility that was now mine so overwhelming. And although I calmed down with sons two and three, (life with three boys has a way of inuring you) the truth is that from the instant you give birth, you live with a completely different awareness and you will live that way forever. Somewhere on earth are the little beings you put out there and you will always be connected to them. Funnily enough, a synonym for fancy-free is ‘without ties.’
Of course, I don’t mean to say that those lucky, carefree types do not have ties. They just are not worriers. My husband is not a big worrier, and I envy him for it. If there is something worrisome going on – he asks himself if there is anything he can do about it. If the answer is yes, he does it and doesn’t worry. If it’s no, he figures worrying is pretty pointless and moves on to other things, like taking a nap. (As I said, I envy him for it.)
I can’t do that – maybe because I’m a mother, maybe because women and worry go really well together. It could also be hereditary: my brother comes from the same worrier parent stock that I do and he’s a worrier too. It’s in our blood. Even as an independent adult, when I went home to visit my parents and went out at night, well, my father wouldn’t sleep soundly until he heard me come in.
It drove me kind of crazy then, although I look at it differently now and appreciate how much he cared. And as a result it was an adjustment for me to marry my non-worrier husband. I equate worry with love - the old Betty Boop ‘Button Up Your Overcoat’ perspective. If someone doesn’t worry about me, then I have to worry if they love me. (This no longer applies to my husband as he has pretty much proven himself in that regard.) But as a non-worrier, he looks at things completely differently than I do. He almost finds it insulting to be worried about – as if I doubt his capabilities. (Never, Sweetheart - just can’t help myself!) If I express concern for him, he has been known to respond that I should worry about the kids instead. Like that is really necessary. I do, I do that too!
Mothers have countless reasons to worry, and I’m sure those reasons will be subjects of future blogs. For the moment, we are in a good place as regards our family concerns, being post the baby/toddler dangers and pre- the serious teenage ones. But then again, even today when everyone is safe and sound at home, you still have to worry about what perils your kids might be encountering in the virtual world. No, there is absolutely no getting away from it; there are always reasons to worry. I better stop now. I have to go find a Valium and lie down.
(Disclaimer: just so the author doesn’t worry about being perceived as endorsing drugs, the last line is a joke.)