*** Probably not the post for you if you have bad anxiety ***

I had a pretty great pregnancy with Gus. I threw up only twice, had no major issues, and he grew on track with no concerns. Yet the whole time I worried. I was worried something would go wrong. I hesitated to think about the future with a baby because I knew something could go wrong. I was too worried to trust things would be okay.

I worried so much the first year of his life. Even if he was okay was I doing everything correctly? Was he rolling when he should roll and crawling when he should crawl? Did I love him enough? Did I forever scar him the night (or 12) that he wouldn’t go to sleep and I yelled? Should I do more?

Somewhere between 10-14 months that calmed down. He was clearly on track and doing great. I was able to enjoy my kiddo so much. I knew we were all doing okay and that we’d make it.

And now in the last couple weeks worry has started to set back in. There was a story last week about a mama in Portland who was hiking with her family and her kiddo who was 2 or 3 was hiking and took a misstep and tumbled down a cliff. He had some injuries but will be okay. His mama will not. She saw him go and immediately went after him and died. This story filled me with panic. I feel for this family but I think of how many places we hike with cliffs. Gus is way too small to be off my back in these places but one day he won’t be. How will I ever trust him to hike alone and not go close to the edge? What if I am hiking with him and I trip? We planned some camping trips this summer and will be at the beach. What if he gets too close to the water? What if something happens to him somewhere we go? I wonder if these worries will go away as he gets more stable on his feet/develops any sort of self control? As it stands now I think about taking him anywhere outside of the house and what could happen to him and it gets hard to breathe.

Add to those worries the fact that Humans of New York is on facebook featuring kids with cancer this week. What if he doesn’t fall off a cliff but instead gets sick? Those kids featured were all healthy happy kids and then got sick. What if that is my kid? There is no way to tell. I could keep him away from every cliff and every body of water and something could still happen to him. I can’t keep him safe no matter what I do.

I don’t really know how to get over this. It’s not stopping me from living but it occupies my mind more often than I would like to admit. I loved Gus when he was born. I loved him when he was an infant. But now we chat. Now he kisses and hugs. Now he and I have a relationship and hang out and have a good time. I worry so much that something will happen to him and honestly, I don’t know if it is him or me I worry about. I want him to be safe and to grow and always be happy and healthy yes, but I realize now that if anything happened to him I’d be done for too.



Posted on May 11, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. An heir and a spare. 😉

    NO, because for reals, more kids just = more worries.

    I’m not sure that it ever really gets better. It gets different, the worries change, but where they lessen in some areas, they increase in others. The more independent they are, the easier it is to worry, because the less control (or illusion of control) we have as parents, the more there is to worry about. And they more they move, the more risks they take. My heart stops an average of 10-20 times a day from the antics my two get up to. They are stretching and growing and testing and honestly? It’s kind of stressful to watch, because I refuse to hover over them and erode their self-confidence. I mean, the things they do make my heart swell with pride (when it’s not too busy heart attacking). But it’s so easy to imagine one misstep or slip when they’re climbing, or cancer or illness, or… and how quickly our entire world could come crashing down around us.

    Maybe some yoga or meditation or Xanax.

    • I try so hard not to hover and just stand by the side gasping. There are a few places I keep a closer eye (we have a huge local park that is great but the big play structure has tons of ladder type things that have no bars in front of them so my kid will easily just walk right off the side. Maybe this is what parenting is about now: When can I let him wander and do his thing vs. when do I need to be right there because he is going to die and then I will die because I cannot live without him. Sounds rational. 🙂

  2. I have the same thoughts, all the time. I have anxiety so I don’t know if these are normal thoughts or thoughts only anxious people have. But you’re definitely not alone. The HONY series has me sobbing daily and worrying about that too. Not just cancer but any illness. Or any injury. Or any heartbreak she feels. I suppose this is what it feels like to walk around with your heart outside your body, as they say.

    • I’ve always had some anxiety but normally fairly manageable. This is a whole new level though. When I start to think about all the things that could happen to him I can’t pull out of it.

  3. It’s tough! I’m not anxious by nature, but I have a couple pretty much irrational things I worry about with Ali, and now the other 2.
    Ali was Gus’ age when we started our camping adventures last year, and she never rode in a pack when we hiked, even the crazy cliffs and climbing up dry stream beds and stuff. I think I just spent the whole time staring at her and freaking out instead of enjoying the scenery, but she had a blast!

    • There are some places I would let Gus wander and some I won’t. Right now he is at the frustrating point of wanting to run off in many directions and when we try to stop him just laying down right where he is. Mainly we keep him up for our own sanity. 😉

  4. I think personally, I find comfort in false security. There would have been a time in my life when walking would have terrified me but I learned to walk and now, I don’t ever think about walking. People die at alarming rates just by being in a kitchen but I have been in a kitchen 2 billion times in my life and I never associate the kitchen with danger.

    Much with raising kids, the first time Thatcher did something, I was terribly nervous. The fiftieth time he does something without issue? It starts to become reasonably acceptable that he will likely not die doing the thing. (To be clear, this is a false sense of security because the first or fiftieth time can equally result in tragedy, but I don’t think our brains work like that.*)

    When they are young like Gus, there is so much he hasn’t done. But think about how many things Gus had never done a year ago that he now does every day and you never think about, you know? It my experience, parenting becomes finding comfort in the security that you KNOW pretty much what’s going to happen when Gus does XYZ because you’ve seen him happily and successfully do XYZ. Those anxieties fall to the side and new anxieties occur because here’s a whole new group of things he’s never done!

    I have to approach parenting as a general comfort level of repetition without failure. It’s how I get through it because there are way too many things and too many kids.

    *Caveat being an anxiety disorder which would make it very difficult to acknowledge a general pattern of success and for those situations, which in that case, it isn’t your fault, please seek help. 🙂

    • You know, that’s an interesting point. I don’t really worry about things he has done or I know he can do. I worry about how he could get hurt years from now. He can do the steps out our front door and down our porch on his own. I used to freak out about him getting ahead of us because he would fall then one day he did and he did the steps fine and now I don’t care. That’s comforting in some ways but there will always be new things to conquer…

      • Yes, there are always new things. That’s the part of parenting that’s always scary. But the more successful he becomes at not just doing specific things but doing LIFE in general, you can hopefully find some comfort in that. Once upon a time, you had never camped or hiked. Maybe it was an adult, maybe a child. I’ve never done those things and I am telling you right now, I’d probably walk off a cliff. I’ve just no experience with that much like Gus has none.

        So when you go, you watch him like a hawk just like you did every other thing he’s done for the first time. And he learns. He starts to gain experience and knowledge and soon, he’s taking ME on a hike showing me not how to fall off cliffs. It’s what we do as humans. We’re rather spunky at staying alive. 🙂

      • I remind myself that millions upon millions of children have been just fine but jeez, the idea of him out in the world is just a lot sometimes. We were at the coast with my mom a few years ago and Lesley and I hopped a fence to walk out on an embankment. We didn’t go near the edge but were a bit further out and my mom just paced back and forth telling us to come back. I was 30. I guess in some ways this will never end.

      • Nah, parent for life. Gus’ll be doing stuff at 40 that makes you nervous. 🙂 You have time to work up to that, though.

      • At least then he can tell me about it and I don’t have to watch. 🙂

  5. Those kinds of stories about kids get me every time. It’s excruciatingly vulnerable when you have to go through life with your heart outside of your own body. When I express fears like the ones you’ve shared to my wife, she says, “All you can do is love her right this second, because you never know what’s going to happen next.” And I want to physically HIT HER because that is SO UNHELPFUL and usually makes me feel worse. She also likes to give me a heads up when there’s a news story circulating on Facebook that I should avoid reading (because something horrible happens to a child), which only serves to make me SEEK OUT the forbidden content because I am perpetually two years old at heart. Anyway, my point being that I don’t have answers. I wish I did. And honestly, as much as I hate to admit it, my wife is probably right in how she approaches this. I try to give myself some peace by reminding myself that there are FAR more children in this country who live to a ripe, healthy old age than there are who don’t. We survived, right? The statistics are on our side.

    • Catch’s attitude is much like Lesley’s but I don’t even mention these things to her because she would say shit like that and I would get irate. (Fun side fact: One time we went to a music festival with friends and lesley made pot brownies that made us all trip which I did not expect and I thought we were dying. My friend told me, “We’re in this beautiful place with these beautiful women and if anything happens we’ll be fine.” which I clearly took to mean she thought we were dying and she is a nurse so she would know and then I freaked even more and that’s why I don’t do hard drugs.) And I have to read all the stories because if I don’t how else will I know what potential dangers exist!?

  6. Right there with you. I joined the damn car seats for littles group on Facebook to get more information about travelling with a car seat. HUGE EFFING MISTAKE. All I could do was dwell on the possibility that every little thing I do could kill my kid. My new rule for this one is: get the information, make a choice, run like hell and try not to dwell on it. So far the last one has been the hardest. Beer helps.

  7. My mind starts to wander at night, and I’ll quickly get sucked into a worst-case-scenario hole. When I realize it’s happening, I just stop, and think about cupcakes (because obviously I have a problem with desserts) and once that takes the edge off, I close my eyes and imagine all the things I’d do around my house if money was no object.

  8. It’s crazy because I am the complete opposite of you and it makes Callie crazy because she is much like you. I mean, the whole falling off the cliff things scares the fuck outta me, and that’s why i never let my kids down when we hike unless, it’s like a flat field where they can run around without a cliff in sight, but regular stuff at home, like climbing, jumping, taking stairs (just 1-3 steps to the landing), spacial relations, things like that, i kinda shrug and say, “They have to learn there bodies and boundaries and what happens if you get to close to the edge of the bed”. Have my kids fallen off of the couch? Possible. Have then stood up on one of their rider wagons and fallen? YUP! Have they done it again?!?! NOPE! They learned to get off of the couch REAL QUICK by themselves because the last time they tried it, they hurt themselves. Those little things I’m ok with, but Callie thinks i’ma bitch and that I don’t care if my kids get hurt. I DO! Believe me I DO, but there are certain things in life that they will only learn by doing. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s absolutely normal to freak about the possibility of your kids jumping off the side of a mountain or running head on into oncoming traffic chasing their favorite ball, or whatever! Those are rare but really scary circumstances. It’s even ok for parents to get freaked out about their kids taking stairs for the first time. But there is a difference between early stages of development and body awareness and such, vs. rare circumstances like cliffs.

    • I tell people how happy I was when Clementine burned herself on a hot pot on the stove. They look at me like I’m a terrible mother until I explain why–that I am happy to have the reference point for later. My philosophy, which I admit is easier said than done, is to let them learn the hard lessons when the stakes are low, so they’ll a) trust my wisdom when the stakes are higher and b) more importantly, develop instinctual associations that will empower them to both make good choices and keep themselves safe/healthy in the future. Obviously, this only goes so far (cancer being a notable exception) but I think little risks can have big rewards. And for those exceptions, I try to tell myself that what will happen will happen and worrying won’t do a darn thing to change it. Like I said, easier said than done.

    • Those at home things don’t bug me at all. I’m all for a little hurt here and there to figure it out. I don’t mind a broken bone and don’t hover over him too close. (poor kid is a constant bruise in some spots. ) I just worry about the stuff that is way less likely to happen. 🙂

  9. Oh god, those Humans of New York stories have gotten to me, too. I laid in bed awake way too late just holding his hand (his mattress is just an extension of ours right now) because we watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies after he went to bed and there were zombie kids in it. Even the cliff thing specifically terrifies me for reasons there is no need to elaborate on.

    My mother always repeated, especially once I actually got pregnant, “you never know fear until you have a kid.” I hate how right she is.

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