Monday, March 7, 2011

How long do you worry about your kids?

Is there an imaginary cutoff period when offspring
become accountable for their own actions?
Is there a moment when parents can become detached
spectators in the lives of their children?

When I was in my twenties,
I stood in a hospital corridor
waiting for doctors to put a few stitches
in my son's head and I asked,
"When do you stop worrying?"
The nurse said,
"When they get out of the accident stage..."
My parents just smiled faintly
and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties,
I sat on a little chair in a classroom
and heard how one of my children
talked incessantly, disrupted the class
and was headed for a career
making license plates.
As if to read my mind, the teacher said,
"Don't worry, they all go through this stage
and then you can sit back,
and enjoy them."
My parents just smiled faintly
and said nothing.

When I was in my forties,
I spent a lifetime waiting
for the phone to ring,
the car to come home,
the front door to open.
A friend said,
"They're trying to find themselves.
Don't worry!
In a few years, they'll be adults.
They'll be off on their own
and you'll have it easy."
My parents just smiled faintly
and said nothing.

By the time I was 50,
I was sick and tired of being vulnerable.
I was still worrying over my children,
but there was a new wrinkle...
Even though they were on their own
I continued to anguish over their failures,
be tormented by their frustrations and
absorbed in their disappointments...
and there was nothing I could do about it.
My parents just smiled faintly
and said nothing.

My friends said that
when my kids got married
I could stop worrying
and lead my own life.
I wanted to believe that,
but I was haunted by my parent's warm smiles
and their occasional,
"You look pale. Are you all right?"
"Call me the minute you get home."
"Are you depressed about something?"

My friends said that
when I became a grandparent
I would get to enjoy
the happy little voices yelling
"Grandma! Papa!"
But now I find that I worry
just as much about the little kids
as the big ones.
How can anyone cope
with all this worry?

I guess parents are sentenced to
a lifetime of worry.
Is worry a curse - or a virtue?

Recently, one of my own children
became quite irritable, saying to me,
"Where were you?
I've been calling for 3 days,
and no one answered.
I was worried."
I smiled a warm smile.
The torch has been passed!


Aspiemom said...

I loved this!

Karin said...

Almost at that last verse stage - but I have a feeling with all this technology they'll always know where we are! So looking forward to passing that torch! Loved this!

Colleen said...

This is so beautiful Mari! Thank you for sharing it, I really enjoyed it and I'm sure it's true.

When we first adopted William, I remember one of the first nights we were in our own home with him and I must have had three different dreams about me being irresponsible and something awful happening to him. Maybe I was just a bit overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility...:)

Anyway, I think this is something everyone can relate to.:)

Pat said...

I've been through each of those stages and they are so real. I later transfered my worries to my grown grandsons! Will they be safe as the drive to work?.., etc.
I have learned in my sixties, to transfere worry to prayer and leave it to the Lord. It really works, so there is hope for us!!!

le blÖg d'Ötli said...

It's so true Mari... When children come, we are parents for all our life ;)

A Stone Gatherer said...

I have to wait that long huh???!!!

Anonymous said...

Yep, that happens to me all the time. Nowadays our younger daughter will call and wait and call again until she gets us. They she gives us the third degree about where we were all that time. So we try to remember to tell her that we have to go to the doctor or somewhere.

Kat aka Beachkat said...

So true!

A little true story...I lost my first son (stillbirth) in my 7th month. Devastating to say the very least. When I was pregnant with our son Eric I worried the entire time. The entire time! When he was placed in my arms, I remember thinking "Thank God I don't have to worry anymore." For 2 whole minutes I was blissfully stupid. Because then he suddenly began to cry and I started worrying again. It was then that I realized I would worry until I took my last breath. After all, I am a MOTHER.


Nancy said...

Mari, I love it, love it, love it...and it is so true....
Thanks for sharing this with us...

Rae said...

Oh how true. I loved this post!

Cherdecor said...

Like Kat, we lost a baby too. After she was born full term, she lived for five days. Then after our next baby was born, Chad, I was up looking at him several times a night making sure he was still breathing. After each of our three children were born, I was very fearful of it happening again.

Connie said...

I pick my worries. The everyday things I don't bother with. Things that really matter - I am concerned about. I do try to leave them with the Lord - He is so much wiser than I.

Musicaljean said...

Funny - I was just having this very discussion with my step mother recently. I asked her, "Do you ever get to the point where there isn't anything in any of your children's or grandchildren's lives that just gives you a belly ache when you think about it?" She's 83, and she hasn't gotten to that point yet. Hmmm.

Jenny the Pirate said...

I wonder who wrote this? It's very true. The bigger your kids get, the bigger the concerns. I remind myself every day that faith ends where anxiety begins ... and vice versa. Notice I said I have to remind myself every day ...

Carol said...

Aye, once a parent, always a parent smiles and all!!

Carol said...

Aye, once a parent, always a parent smiles and all!!