Last week, I read this blog post about childhood worries. Afterward, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own adolescent anguishes. Some of them were inspired by bad 80’s television, others by playground chatter, and the rest were made-up scenarios in my head.
I was one of those kids who spent more time worrying than playing. I worried about things that had already happened (my mom forgetting to pick me up after school), things that could happen (nuclear war) and things that were more than likely never going to happen (stumbling into a pit of quicksand).
At the age of ten, I watched a Made for TV movie about breast cancer. Coincidentally, I had been experiencing some pain and swelling in my chest. With that said, I convinced myself, like the protagonist, that I, too was suffering from breast cancer.
I worried for weeks. I couldn’t sleep, I cried off and on, but was too embarrassed/scared to go to anyone with my concerns. Finally, one afternoon my mother caught me crying. In between sobs, I broke the news to her that I probably wouldn’t be making it to my 11th birthday. She explained (albeit giggles), I was going to be fine and that the “symptoms” I had experienced were simply signs, that it was time for a training bra (Ugh! If only I had read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret one year earlier).
After recalling that lovely childhood memory, I couldn’t help but wonder how my own children dealt with worry. I reminded myself to give them each some guidance on the issue. I had come a long way from the Worry Wort I once had been. Perhaps by sharing this with the kids, it would save them from some of the pangs I endured in my youth.
And just like that – It was if the Parental Gods had read my mind! The following morning, R and I were getting in the car when he gently shoved his iPad in my hand. He looked up at me, his brown eyes searching my face for a reaction. I was shocked to see a huge crack across the screen. “Oh, buddy! What happened?!” I asked, admittedly in more of a Peg Bundy than Carol Brady “concerned mom” voice. Before he could muster an explanation, I took a few deep breaths and told him it didn’t matter and it could be fixed.
But he was unusually quiet on the ride to school. I asked him if he was worried about the iPad. He nodded his head in agreement and told me he was really worried about his dad’s reaction. I reassured him again that the iPad was fixable. I took it a bit further and shared my recently-found philosophy.
“I try not to worry. But it does take a lot of effort on my part. I remind myself that the only things in life worth worrying about are those things that we have no control over-like the health and safety of our loved ones. As long as my friends and family are healthy, all is good in my world.”
R seemed to be listening attentively. But who knows if he actually “got” the point I was trying to make. I am confident, he will see my example and learn from it.
With that being said, I am a work in progress. Once in awhile, I slip back into old habits. To remedy those moments, I find connecting with a good friend and also some deep breathing/meditation exercises do wonders for putting things back into perspective.
How do you manage stress?