Okay, where are all my peeps out there that are going to message me and assure me I’m not alone in my catastrophic thinking….especially when it comes to my kids.
I’m 90% sure someone is going to abduct my daughter on any given night, and I freak out if I forget to put on the monitor in her room (yes, there is a baby monitor in my 9 year old’s room).
I’m constantly wondering if I’m ruining my kids’ chances of happiness and success in this world by the decisions I make….how when that 1/2 hour of electronic time somehow slipped by me into 2-3 hours of time is going to warp their brain… or how the decision to force or not force my kids to go to piano lessons is going to shape the rest of their life…or how a bigger transition to homeschooling leads to so much anxiety of my chances of ruining their chances at success forever.
My daughter has had a headache off and on for 3 weeks with her emotional control declining from a 9 year old to a 3 year old mentality and ability to cope, and I haven’t yet decided if it is most likely a brain tumor causing these headaches/blurry vision/behavioral changes or just stress, a virus, and some pre-teen hormones forcing out those constant tears.
I sent her to school with a headache and red, puffy eyes from crying for an hour straight, meeting her teacher in the hallway while she was telling me she couldn’t go in and just felt like she needed to cry more (because an hour just didn’t get it all out of her system). I was thankful she was blessed with one of the most understanding and gentle teachers out there, but wondered as I left the school parking lot if that tumor in her head was growing bigger as I convinced myself it wasn’t there.
Why do I think like this? Why is my life so stressful and these decisions so hard?
Because of joy.
Because I’m blessed with this life, this family, and the chance to make these decisions. The consequences wouldn’t mean so much if I didn’t feel an intense love for these children. It can be scary to feel so much joy and wonder if it could end. Feeling joy makes us vulnerable, so us crazy moms decrease that vulnerability by scheming up these horrible events in our head that could bring that joy crashing down. We prepare ourselves by playing detrimental scenes over and over in our minds.
“When we’re overwhelmed by love, we feel vulnerable—so we dress-rehearse tragedy.
Though I study scary emotions like anger and shame for a living, I think the most terrifying human experience is joy. It’s as if we believe that by truly feeling happiness, we’re setting ourselves up for a sucker punch. The problem is, worrying about things that haven’t happened doesn’t protect us from pain. Ask anyone who has experienced a tragedy; they’ll tell you there is no way to prepare. Instead, catastrophizing, as I call it, squanders the one thing we all want more of in life. We simply cannot know joy without embracing vulnerability—and the way to do that is to focus on gratitude, not fear.” Brene Brown
When I change my perspective and start thinking about what I’m thankful for and all the blessings around me, I am able to push away some of those thoughts that I’m ruining my kids’ lives and remember to just relish in the moments. Life is too short to worry about the future, and honestly there is only so much we control. Instead, I constantly need to remind myself God has my back, and that the small influence my decisions make, and despite my lack of parenting knowledge, life should all turn out okay if I can focus on love and gratefulness.
I’m feeling stressed, worried, and behind every day….but I’m going to love the chance to feel these things and know that it’s all part of parenting. I’ll remember that worrying about the future does nothing except take the joy out of the present….and if my daughter has a brain tumor, we will deal with it when the time comes. For now, I’m going to help her through the tears and stress of worrying about her upcoming State math test that is more likely causing these meltdowns and headaches.