I bring this up because my son has inherited my worry gene. He just started soccer, at the invitation of a friend. His friend fell ill before the first practice and was unable to attend. As soon as my son heard this, he developed a debilitating stomach ache. "I think I'm going to throw up," were his exact words. He's my second child, so I know the drill. "You're worried because your friend isn't going to be there and you're not going to know anyone," I diagnosed. Sure enough, we went down to practice, he refused to play (and I will admit he was looking a bit green by that point), but as we were driving away he perked up and said, "Can we go to McDonalds?"
I'm no dummy. Been there, done that. I remember my first migraines back in 6th grade - they started every Monday right after lunch - about three hours before my piano lesson that I was taking a the local university by a very straight-laced teacher who was hell bent on turning me into a concert pianist. If I didn't perform my scales properly, she left the room and wouldn't come back until they were perfected. It was agony and it made my head pound.
Another time, I had to give a presentation in front of the class. Aside from being naked on stage in front of an audience, public speaking runs a close second in my random psychological fears department. I remember leaning up against the blackboard waiting for my turn. After I finally sat down, I looked up at the front of the room and saw a huge sweat stain glazed on that board where I had stood.
Here's a good one. When my oldest was three weeks old, we had to move to Ft. Leavenworth (my then-husband was taking a command class with the Army). I had never done the "Army wife" thing, and it was the night before I had to take my newborn to the PX using my military I.D. I was terrified. I didn't sleep all night. I woke up with a feeling of dread. How was I going to do this? What if he cried? What if I didn't do it right? The military was very precise and regimented. What if I pushed my cart the wrong way down an aisle and the MPs came after me? Would I lose my son???
Now my worries manifest themselves into the weirdest, irrational dreams and sleepless nights. They give me stomach issues and more migraines than I've had in a long time. I worry about my kids and their worries, how I'm dealing with their worries, if I'm being too much of an enabler or not being tough enough on them. I worry about my work, and doing enough or doing too much. I worry about saying the wrong thing or not saying the right thing at the right time. I worry about the ratio of words that come out of my mouth to thoughts in my brain - should there be a greater margin there?
I worry about what I will do if... if I get sick, if I run out of money, if something happens to my kids, if something happens to my parents, my sister, my brothers. I worry if my relationships are balanced and enough of a two way street to sustain themselves for the long haul. I worry that I'm not good enough, that I don't try hard enough, that I'm not doing as much as I should be doing. That I'm doing too much. I love (and live by) this quote: "There are two days in the week about which and upon I never worry... Yesterday and Tomorrow."
And what a lucky duck - my youngest seems to have inherited this lovely quality of mine. And I don't know what to tell him. "Don't worry" has to be the stupidest thing you can say to a person who says, "I'm worried." So I try not to. What I do try to do is relate what he's going through to something I've experienced - because usually I can find some correlation. I know that doesn't necessarily takes away the worry, but he can see that I felt the same way and that I made it through. But it breaks my heart knowing the exact feelings he is experiencing and wishing I could make them all just go away.
Some level of worry is good, I suppose. The other extreme would be apathy, and that's not a quality I care to have. But I gotta say, this worry gene is killing me - as is raising a little mini-me with the same M.O.
Maybe I should jump on the bandwagon with Lily Tomlin. She worries. A lot.
“I worry,” she says, “about being a success in a mediocre world.”
“I worry that we’ll become so overcrowded that loneliness will become a peak experience.”
“I worry that we’re writing a new chapter in American history — Chapter 11.”
"I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else."
My favorite quote, though, is not from Lily Tomlin - I don't know who said, it, but it makes sense: "Worry is the darkroom in which negatives are developed." I need to get a handle on this worry of mine and try to not only teach my kids that worrying is only going to cause them sleepless nights and furrowed brows, but to show myself that the act of worrying really doesn't get me anywhere. Maybe I'll start small and take Charlie Brown's advice. He said, "I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time."