The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Mom Worry

I knew motherhood would change me in myriad ways, that physically, emotionally, spiritually -- life would never be the same.

But there’s one change I never expected and am not too proud of. Overnight I’ve transformed from a dare-devil to a worry-wart. No longer am I the give-me-a-destination-and-I’ll-go-there-girl, Hong Kong, Katmandu, Rio, all the better.

Now I’d just as soon not drive on the freeway.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I were merely the, do we have enough diapers, wipes, sunscreen, juice and Goldfish? type of obsessive mom-worrier. Really, it’s amazing that I can accomplish
single task, given the list that pursues me wherever I go, the ticker-tape of items I am constantly scanning for, trying to corral along with us.

Nor simply have I become an Infinite Possibility Worrier. Meaning that any small movement through time and space now requires that I deluge my husband with Infinite Possibility questions: Do you think if we X, the baby will nap? Or maybe if we Z, we can ward off a fuss? Or maybe? Pete scratches his head, wondering when this relentless mother replaced the easy-
going wife he thought he was marrying but these are still small potatoes in the Big Leagues of Mom Worriers.

My true confession is that since motherhood, I’ve become fixated with stories of children’s accidents. I know it sounds ghoulish, but really, has there been an extra slew of these horrors? More coverage in the news? Maybe we’ve become too preoccupied to parent, have too many opportunities to multi-task, or the world has just become a more dangerous place. I don’t know how I’ve spent my life not even noticing these tragedies before.

Clearly those days are gone.

Despite my best efforts, I pour over the news of these children, detail by horrifying detail. Swept out to sea by sneaker riptides; abducted by strangers; falling out of un-screened hotel windows; smothered by collapsing sand dunes; suffocated in closed-up cars because the parents “forgot” the child was there. Forgot? Somehow the most unbearable was a 22-month-old who drowned in a pool while his father worked from home. I’m haunted by the image of that young dad, carrying his son in his arms, standing at the end of the driveway, waiting to meet the ambulance. The drive to the hospital. The infant could not be revived, the paper said.

What it doesn’t say is -- what happens next? I try to imagine the unimaginable: the panicked desperate attempts at CPR, the feeling of holding the child’s body grown limp or heavy, the despair, the horror, the guilt.

Reading, I swing from looking for someone or something to blame to the deepest of sympathy. Where was that parent? Why weren’t they paying attention!? To shame. How many times have I made one more phone calls, read one more e-mail, while I only vaguely knew the whereabouts of my young son?

I try to imagine these couples afterwards. Which would be worse, to be the parent who was on-duty or off? How do they ever find their way to forgiveness? To being forgiven? How do they possibly go on?

Because if there’s one thing parenthood has taught me, it’s that no matter what, you have to keep on going. My hope is that this accident-worry adds a dimension of compassion to my cluttered days -- that I always remember that somewhere there is a mother, a family, taking on the terrible tasks of informing the other family members, making it through a funeral. There are surviving siblings who will always carry the burden of loss or compensation as they try to go back to church or school or sports. Somewhere ,there are neighbors trying to find words, wondering if any condolence exists that doesn’t fall hollow.

So when my husband finds me an over-worrying nag, I try to explain. I can’t help it. This hyper-vigilance must be hard-wired into mothers. Survival of the species and all that. My mind crunches out possibilities of disaster scenarios, this calculation of odds and dangers is always with me. I can’t make it stop. If I hold the anxiety on the front-end, I must believe I can somehow ward off the unthinkable regret.

Maybe the best we can do is to use tragedy stories as a backdrop to gain perspective, as a reminder to not take a single moment for granted. That includes the spit-up that’s gone down my back and into the heels of my shoes, the magical melt-down hour of 5:00 pm, the fact that when my husband takes our son out, he manages to lose the ENTIRE diaper bag. On a regular basis. But I’m not going to worry about the small stuff.

In the meantime, I scan the headlines, riveted, holding the accident stories out in front of me
like a talisman, pretending I can keep us safe from harm.

By Mary Beth McClure


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Hi! I came over from NaBloPoMo. I'm challenging myself to comment on as many blogs as possible this month.

Wow. Great article! I have no children, but you've given me a deeper understanding of the worry my mom must have gone through with my brother and I as we were growing up. I think I'll call my mom tonight to tell her how much I appreciate all she's done for me.

Hey, just dropping by from the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

I recommend Gavin De Becker's book The Gift Of Fear. It taught me how to quit worrying and focus on living. ;) A quick quote from the book for you - "Worry is the fear we manufacture - it is not authentic. If you choose to worry about something have at it, but do so knowing it's a choice."

GDB also recommends stop watching the news. I did, and I'm glad I did. ;) They hype everything up into such drama but the people the news are promoting are themselves - make sure to watch tomorrow so we can tell you all the ways you need to protect yourself from the badness in the world!

As if posting 30 posts a month wasn't enough, I'm trying to comment on as many blogs as I can as well. We have a group on NaBloPoMo as well.

NaBloPoMo Commenting Challenge Group

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