Do Parents Worry Too Much?

The Next Family

By: Tosha Woronov

the power went out

I’m a worrier. A freak. A stress-case.

And I haven’t done a good job at hiding that from my little boy.

His innocence and joy mean everything to me and yet…I guess not enough to keep my worries to myself.

I mentioned this in my last blog, that my son had recently used the all too grown-up word, “burden”. I shudder.

This past Sunday found Pete, Leo, and me at Target, hiding out from the torrential rain that had been falling all morning.

I got a text from our neighbor: “Is ur power out too? Just got off phone w/ electric co. Said it might not be back on til 2morrow afternoon.”

Tomorrow? Afternoon??

I immediately started thinking of the problems that would arise from having no power for 24-plus hours.

Will the chicken in the fridge spoil?
Will all the food in the fridge spoil?
How will I get my edits done?
No “Californication” tonight?
Uh-oh – Pete won’t be able to watch Syracuse in Round Two of the NCAA tournament.

When we got home, we assessed. My worrying continued, out loud.

Our flashlights are lame. Why didn’t we buy batteries at Target? Why didn’t we get electric candles? We could use the stove, or the grill, to cook dinner. We could go out to dinner. Should we just go to a hotel? No, we can’t afford that, and what about the dog? Will I have to throw all this food out? God, I would be horrible in a real emergency, huh? When is it going to stop raining? Is our heat electric? Or gas? Yikes, it will be cold tonight. Will there be school tomorrow? The power is out there, too. Maybe the school has a generator. If he doesn’t have school, which one of us will cancel which prior commitments to stay home with him? Can the goldfish survive for a whole day without his air filter? What is that damn beeping? Oh it’s the security alarm; it detects a power failure. Just unplug the main line. That’s stupid. Unplugging it makes no sense. Should we go somewhere to watch the game? Will DirectTV still record “Californication”?

I want to be clear that I wasn’t hysterical. I was, in fact, weirdly into (if not totally moronic about) determining what would work and what wouldn’t, which aspects of our daily lives required electricity and which didn’t. And I was psyched that now (through no laziness on my part!) it would be impossible to clean the bathrooms, wash the dishes, pay the bills, do some writing. A free day. In fact my biggest panic was how to keep my iPhone (which was dangerously down to 48% power) charged. I wondered how long I’d have to sit in the car, the running car, to charge it.

So, I wasn’t really freaking out.

But I freaked out Leo.

And damnit, this is when I hate myself. This is when I hate that I am this kind of person. This kind of mom. When I wish wish wish that I had been born a different way, or under different circumstances – the ways and circumstances that create the kind of girl I have never been and will never be: calm. cool. collected. chill. The zen mamas who just ooze peace and relaxation and therefore raise kids who don’t stress the small stuff. This is when I wonder if I shouldn’t have become a mother. This is when it hurts.

More than anything, I want Leo to be NOT like me. And it breaks my heart that he is like me. I mean, like this part of me.

I felt so ashamed when he started to cry, when he started to worry that the power was out.

And since I’m being honest here I need to stress that he was not scared. It was not dark yet. He was worried. He said so.

I did my best then to remember that I am a frickin’ mommy! of a smart and observant little boy! and that I needed to shut up! and stop worrying him. I got down on my knees and apologized, and told him that the things mommy was thinking about are things he did not need to think about. I asked him to please let us worry about silly grown-up things like the refrigerator, and to please, please know that mommy and daddy would keep him safe.

And I promised him that it would be an adventure.

We left soon after, to find a restaurant with tvs that might be airing some college basketball. We had fun.

And when we got home, it was dark. Very dark. And still pouring rain. And Leo and I, armed with a flashlight, brushed our teeth in the cave-like bathroom, got in our jammies. We played UNO, the three of us, on our bed. The dog and cat were there, too. We were together. And aside from Leo asking (three times!), “should we watch TV?” and then laughing each time I reminded him “we can’t” –and aside from a moment of slight panic when Leo and I, weird sleepers that we are, realized we would have to fall asleep (so early! 8pm!) without the white noise from our sound machines — I never worried or thought about it again.

And when I awoke a couple hours later to the sounds of the house coming back to life, I was a little sad that it was over.

Now all I can do is remember the day the lights went out and try to do better.


[Photo Credit: Flickr Image: Davidjwbailey]

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