Thursday, September 18, 2008

"When Do You Stop Worrying?"

by an anonymous Mom...

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

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. I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" A nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage." My mother 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, a teacher said, "Don't worry. They all go through this stage, and then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy them." My mother listened and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring and the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. In a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults."

By the time I was 50, I was sick and tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was nothing I could do about it. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments. 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 mother's wan smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse? Or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life? One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for three days, and no one answered. I was worried!!!"

I smiled a wan smile.

Reminding you that having someone to worry about, to really care about, is a blessing that you should never forget. Enjoy it.


Reader Wil said...

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry?

Yes, it can!!! I'm always worried about my children. The problem is I cannot change anything any more.

Jack and Joann said...

A great bit of wisom for us to remember Patty.

Jack's mother who birthed five children once remarked that you always worry about your children and as they grow your worries just change. You worry if they will survive being brought into this world so helpless. Then you worry when they grow strong and become physically reckless. You worry before they marry if they will marry well and you worry after they marry if they will stay married. (This stated after Jack's divorced sister just ended a bad love relationship in her fifties.)

But the wisdom is in knowing that we are lucky if we have lived long enough to "enjoy" these worries.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Patty you had five children. Surely you can remember each of these steps through the worry-wart cycle? I didn't worry much because I knew you would do enough for the both of us.

Jack and Joann said...

Patty, if you need a laugh in a family way go to my friend's blog twobytwobytwo and see what she wrote for today about her kids.

Michelle said...

Good one Miss Patti...haven't stopped by in a while...still love your post...(I borrowed an older one:) )

Take care...Hope ya'll are both doing well.

Reader Wil said...

I see your point concerning cats and dogs. I agree with you that they all need a lot of attention and care. I was only joking when I wrote my comment to Abe. I don't want any pets now because I am often away and I feel terrible each time one of them die, which is inevitable.

Gramma Ann said...

I now like it that the kids worry about us...A while back my daughter called and said, "Mommy, are you alright?" I said, 'yes, why?' She said, "you haven't written anything on your blog for a week. Are you sure everything is alright?"

I like it that the shoe is on the other foot and they are now the worriers;))

The 4th Sister said...

Yes there is a cutoff period....After the Mother DIES!

Art Is Life, Life Is Art said...

"Reminding you that having someone to worry about, to really care about, is a blessing that you should never forget. Enjoy it."

Very well said. :o)

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for your visit and comment.

Shionge said...

It is a happy 'life-sentence' that I have someone to care and worried about because that is what true love is all about :)


Life, children, son and daughter, we ourselves.
We must take children care but we must take us care too.
I think so that for my forty years married and three daughter.
Father and Mother deserve easy life.
Luiz Ramos

Renie Burghardt said...

Oh so true! I will never stop worrying about my kids, and I would never want to stop.

Good night, Patty!



Merle said...

Dear Patty ~~ Great post as usual and I
think the 4th Sister got it right -when
we die." However it is nice that our grown up kids show concern for us. A nice change. Thank you for your comment
and I am glad you liked the flowers, but I didn't put the Follow This Blog thingy on. My brother Peter does those sorts of things for me. I have asked him to visit your blog and to tell you how to do it. Glad you liked the post, but I am sure to many many people you definitely are Special so don't ever doubt it.Have a great weekend my friend. Love, Merle.