Worry Doesn’t Equal Love by Kara Corridan
Lately I’ve felt as though I’m part of a competition I didn’t enter. It’s called “Who Loves Her Child More?” And I seem to be losing–if the only way to succeed in it is to worry.
It started at the church carnival. My almost-4-year-old found one of the few rides she was tall enough to go on, the kind where you sit in an “animal” that goes up and down while rotating around the center pole. Each time my daughter passed me in her flying unicorn–roughly every 30 seconds–she’d gleefully wave and shout “Hi, Mommy!”
A mom I know appeared at my side. “My boys kept asking to go on that,” she said by way of greeting. “I was like, ‘Forget it.’ There’s no way I’m letting them on that thing.” She visibly shuddered.
“This is Lila’s fourth time,” I replied, not taking my eyes off my child’s delighted little face.
The mom shook her head. “I would be sick if my kids went on that. It looks so rickety. And check out the guy running it.” While not the most attractive man I’d ever seen, he seemed to be doing his job perfectly well. Mother Doomsday moved on, perhaps to spread fear at the teacup ride.
A few months later I was chatting with a woman in the pediatrician’s waiting room. The subject of drop-off birthday parties came up and I shared my view: They’re awesome, and I couldn’t wait for the day when my younger girl was old enough for them.
I rely on those precious 90 to 120 minutes to scramble around and complete as many family-related errands in a 15-mile radius as I can. The woman explained, “I’m not big on drop-offs. But that’s just me. I’m a worrier. I’d never forgive myself if something happened to my daughter when I wasn’t there.” More…
Lenore here: The rest of the essay is every bit as wonderful. Let me just add my frustration with the, “I’d never forgive myself if…” deal. Thinking that way makes the parent’s feelings paramount. It’s not only worst-first thinking, it’s “my-neurosis-trumps-any-upside-for-you-kiddo” thinking. It’s all about calming the parents’ nerves. There’s something creepy about seeing your child’s life through the lens of how guilty you’d feel if anything even unpredictable happened to them, so your “only” alternative is to bubblewrap. – L.