Mental Monday: A Lifetime Sentence to Worry

Now that I’m a parent, I often look back at all the crazy/dangerous antics that I put my own parents through. I was not alone. My sister and brother were often as reckless and carefree as me.

From speeding tickets (all of us) to falling out of a 2nd story window (my sister) to getting hit by a car while riding a bike (my brother) to splitting a forehead wide open by falling on a step (my sister) to skydiving in our late teens (me, my brother), to getting into a bad moped accident in Ibiza (me) to traveling to scary foreign lands (all of us) my mom and dad became accustomed to the anxiety-induced adrenaline rush generated by the wild and accident-prone behavior of their children.

I had never really thought too much about this until I became a parent. I’ve worried about my baby boy before I even knew he was a boy. I’ve been worrying before, during, and every minute after he breathed his first breath. I think about how much I worry over him now and what it will be like in the future, when he’s driving for the first time, when he’s off to school, when he goes off into the world. I had assumed that the feelings of anxiety will only get easier.

My parents have informed me otherwise.

It’s been 30+ years since they have brought three children into the world and they still don’t have it much easier.

My brother is a psychologist in the military, a position he opted to take during this time of war.  He does not currently work in a war zone, but that could change any time. My sister, a civilian lawyer, works in Afghanistan. My parents are besides themselves with worry. They scour the news everyday. Their heart skips a beat before every phone call, especially those from an international number.  My sister has learned to check in with e-mails, even just to say nothing more than “hi.” She has learned to send an “I’m OK” mass e-mail to her immediate family before we hear about attacks in her area. Those e-mails bring most of her loved ones temporary solace during a constant state of turmoil. But, for my parents, the e-mails only validate their anxiety and fears.

I suppose it doesn’t matter if your child is 2 days, 2 months, 2 years, 22 years, or 32 years old. It doesn’t matter if your child is always with you at home, away at college, works in a “safe” city, or works in a war zone. As a parent, you will worry. A lot. It doesn’t always get easier. And, for some parents, it only gets harder.