The Evolution of Worry

The Evolution of Worry-6574The Evolution of Worry-6580The Evolution of Worry-6608

My worries seem to be shifting as my children get older.  I wish I could say I worry less, but a better description would be that I worry differently.

I do believe that in many ways I am getting better, and that my younger ones benefit from my past experiences with their older siblings.  When Silas declares that he hates Mass and never wants to go again, I don’t panic and start having thoughts along the lines of, “Oh, where did I go wrong?  My child hates Jesus!”  Followed by a way over his head lecture on why you shouldn’t say you “hate Mass.”  No, Silas declaring that he hates Mass might result in a raised eyebrow, maybe just the twitch of an eye.  Mostly I just ignore these dramatic statements.  What he means to say is that he finds Mass boring, and it’s hard to sit still.  I too struggle with sitting still.

When I spot Silas and Job playing in the murky water in the little plastic pool next to the house, three minutes after I have gotten them dressed in clean outfits (for the second time that day) I don’t really think about the muddy laundry or the dirty footprints that will result.  Instead, I try to focus on feeling thankful that they are spending quality, non-violent time together.

My worries are far more tangled up with these older children of mine.  Suddenly every decision carries the weight of their entire futures.  Rather than worrying that my little ones are going to destroy my house (they already did) or are on the highway to sociopathy, I’m worried that one bad decision on my part could wreck my older kids’ lives.  All it would take is one false move on my part, one bad decision.   You can understand why all those little things that used to worry me don’t matter quite so much anymore.

So when Larkspur asked if she could go kayaking with her older brothers, I didn’t struggle like I did years ago when she wanted to go snow tubing with her brothers.  I ran it by Jonny, who thought she would be fine.  We made sure that her brothers were on board, knowing that she might end up needing some help.  It turns out she did, and Gabe came to the rescue with a strap that Jonny had tucked into his kayak for just in case.  When we returned a couple hours later and watched Gabe paddle her back to shore, I thought of all the good in these kids, all the potential that I don’t have the power to destroy with “one false move.”  This life, this raising of children, there is too much that is out of my control.  So I will do my best to make reasonable, loving decisions, and I will try to relax.  But let’s face it, I am always going to worry.

Paddle to the Cliffs

On the way out.

And, headed back in.

Yesterday, I was making dinner when Seth asked if I would drive him to the end of our road with Gabe’s kayak so he could go explore along the base of some cliffs across the water.  I was really hesitant, partially because I was busy, but also because Seth has never paddled a kayak before and I wasn’t comfortable with him going out alone.  I pulled my usual, and told him to go ask Jonny.  A little while later, Jonny came in from his office and told me that I ought to just take Keats’ kayak and go with Seth.  That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, even though I’ve been saying for a long time now that I want to start kayaking.  It seems like a good way to work on upper body strength, which I am sorely lacking in, while being outside.  The problem outside of time and equipment is that I am not good at trying new things.  While I was too adventurous before I had children, over the years since becoming a mom it’s possible that I have become overly cautious.

Jonny assured me that I wouldn’t flip the kayak (I don’t think I’ve ever told you the story about going canoeing with Jonny’s friend Ed back in college…there was a lot of flipping the canoe involved!)  and before I could put too much thought into it (“It’s almost dinner time…I have too much to do…I’m scared“), I changed clothes, grabbed a hat and some water and said, “Okay!”  Seth was really excited for us to do this together, and that made me happy.

Once we set out, we only had an hour before Jonny would be returning to pick us up, so we didn’t waste time.  The water was almost perfectly calm, but I felt awfully wobbly as Seth and I paddled out into what seemed like the abyss.  Seth was completely confident and that helped me to be brave.  I experienced a perfect combination of fear and thrill.  One of the most profound aspects of this little adventure was realizing that I was being led by my child.  Every day I look at him and can’t believe that he’s nearly fifteen, only seven years younger than I was when he was born!

Despite being deeply tired, I’ve carried yesterday’s smiles with me all day long.  I know what I want for my birthday, though I don’t think I can wait until December!