If you are looking for someone who is calm, cool, and collected, you have the wrong person. Even though I do my best to cover it up, I am what you would describe as a “highly anxious” person. And, I come by it pretty honestly. My dad is a worrier. My grandmother is a worrier. And, hopefully, I am not raising two little worriers of my own.
When I earned my motherhood badge, my worrying skyrocketed into constant anxiety, afraid that something could (and probably would) go wrong at any time. I’ve slowly accepted the fact that being a good worrier does not, in fact, make you a better parent. In fact, it can suck the joy right out of parenthood. Along this journey, I’ve found the following ways to stick it to anxiety and throw the rule book out the window:
- I showed up to the hospital to deliver my son “naturally” with two printouts from The Bradley Method. These two sheets of paper, notwithstanding a few pain management techniques I’d gleaned from the Internet thanks to Google on my way to the hospital, held the extent of my knowledge of giving birth without any routine medical interventions. Why would any woman go into such a situation so uniformed? (I mean, I had nine months to prepare!!) In retrospect, I would do the exact same thing over again.
- I’m not totally up to date on the news. And, I don’t really want to be. Working in politics, I quickly learned that the easiest stories to spread were the ones where bad things happened. And, accordingly, these are the stories that make it to the news sources. I don’t need to know all the bad stuff that happened here or there. I just don’t. It will only make me worry. And, as stated before, worrying is not something I need help with.
- I have never (and will never) read any book in the “What to Expect” series, or any other book in its this-is-how-your-baby-will-die-of-SIDS genre. The outcome in these books is always the same. You are going to find a way to either cause your baby to die of SIDS or permanently screw up him or her in some other way. Instead, I sat down with our pediatrician before my daughter was born and discussed the big red flashing light type situations that needed immediate attention (i.e. 911.)
- I make a concerted effort to let my children participate in things that absolutely terrify me (within reason, of course.) Oh, toddler, you want to climb up that web of playground ropes? Go for it. I’m right here beside you. You want to strap skis on your feet and go down that mountain? Ok, um, go with your dad.
- I’ve found ways to make myself venture outside my comfort zone. I’m not comfortable in front of crowds. I sign up to speak in front of people. Heights terrify me. I ride roller coasters. Making a phone call can make my palms sweat . . . I haven’t really conquered that one yet.
I’ve accepted my highly anxious personality. In some ways, I’ve even embraced her. However, I will not let her rule me. When she starts to, I will find a way to laugh in her face. Motherhood should be fun, and I am not about to let a little anxiety steal that.