Most parents are professional worriers. I mean if we don’t – who will? Our children race around like there is no tomorrow so somebody has to step up and worry about those crazy rascals – right? Wrong. Half of all the hospital beds in this country are filled with constant worriers. Mental stress can lead to migraine headaches, arthritis, heart trouble, cystitis, colitis, backaches, ulcers and depression. Worry robs us of the moment because we are too busy living in the past or the future.
I’ve been picking the brains of older wiser parents ever since I brought home my first new baby. I wanted to know what they knew . . . quick . . . like I preparing for war before the battle. I was always surprised by the #1 answer I received when I asked, “What do you wish you’d done differently while raising your children?”
“I would enjoy them more.”
Joy and worry are like oil and vinegar; they don’t mix well. In the past I believed parents who told me to enjoy my children had a loose screw upstairs or were simply so old they forgot the hard parts. I knew being the mom was exhausting. I certainly didn’t appreciate all those sentimental grandmas and grandpas telling me to enjoy my sleepless nights, potty training, barfing marathons, science fair projects, Cub Scout pine wood derbies, proms and driver’s license practice sessions. What I really wanted was for someone to validate how hard it is to be a mother or at least feel sorry for me and tell me I could go back to bed. I think I was also searching for some one to guarantee that all my hard work would be worth it and all my children were going to turn out all right.
Now I realize that all I’m really in control of around here is - me. Now I know for certain that I will love each of my children forever no matter how they turn out. So most of the worry and self pity is gone - leaving room for a lot more joy.
Worry is and always will be a fatal disease of the heart for it signals the end of gratitude and faith. Fear takes up so much room, that there is little space for anything else. Because I’m a grandma now, I know that the years when you have your children at home are few and precious. Before you turn around, you have to share them with a spouse, grandchildren, the in-law family and the world.
Abdicating my self-appointed role as the family worrier has set me free to enjoy my life one day at a time. I used to have preconceived ideas about how events and people were supposed to turn out. Now I just show up, smile and see what’s going to happen next. We don’t even know if we’re going to be alive tomorrow, so getting hives over anything in the future is rather pointless.
When we let go of worry we are finally able to savor the peace and joy that is ours for the taking. If we are paying attention, each day has at least one blazing moment of splendor. Like a sunset, if we don’t look west and relish the gold, the moment passes and the day is done.