The worry I feel for my children seems at times insurmountable. It weighs heavy in me...burying itself deep into my core. It gnaws at my gut and at times, overwhelms me with emotion. It started when my oldest was still growing in my womb. When at 6 weeks into my first pregnancy, like many women, I spotted. I was terrified. Beyond terrified, really. More like inconsolable. And after the ultrasound and the reassurance that the baby was alive and thriving, I still convinced myself I was going to screw this up--that some way I would not carry this baby to term. And I said to myself that if that were to happen, I would lay down on the ground and never get back up. I fretted and distressed and not until 20 weeks did I feel any sense of relief at all. That was when we had another ultrasound and I saw moving, working parts. He wiggled his hands and flexed his feet back and forth. I cried. He worked. So far, nothing was broken. I was high with excitement, but it was short lived. I walked around in a mental bubble. Protecting my unborn child with my life if I had to. The momma bear in me was already fiercely protective of her cub.
I delivered a healthy, happy baby boy. And after adjusting to breastfeeding and diaper changing, was starting to feel secure. Then 9-11 happened. My son was 4 weeks old and I was feeding him as I watched the newscast of the first tower on fire. My first thought was a pilot had a heart attack and it was a tragic accident. But then while still holding him in my arms, the second plane hit. And we knew we were under attack. I remember looking at him and just sobbing, apologizing to him for bringing him into the world when it was like this. Terrified about an uncertain future for him. And I just said to him over and over "I'm so sorry."
Time passed. The world adjusted. My boy grew. But he had challenges. At first, small, but then developing into larger and more pressing issues. It took 9 years to get a complete diagnosis. Asperger's with Sensory Integration Disorder. The years have seen so many ups and downs. So many battles--losses and victories. A special needs child comes with a unique playbook of worries.
Now I find myself with a middleschooler who is bullied and taunted. We have seen teachers who care tremendously for him and others who cringed when he walked in the door. We have sat through countless meetings and testings and "feel good" BS meetings. All the while, I worry, fret, pace the floor, wring my hands, cry myself to sleep. Most days, all I can do to get through is cross my fingers and pray that he has a good day. Please, God, don't let the teachers give up on him. Please let them see the good in him. Please don't let his peers wear him down or take the love out of him. And please, I beg, please don't let him give up on himself.
Six years ago, a sister came along. And my world was fought with worry for her, as well. Girls come with their own special set of stomach churning concerns. In first grade she already finds herself inadequate. She thinks other girls are pretty and she "looks weird" because of her freckles and red hair. I tell her every day how beautiful she is. Not a day passes where she is not told "I love you" by both her father and myself. She is daring and headstrong and honestly, not afraid of much. We brag about her and laugh with her and take notice of all of her creations. And yet, she says she has a "fat tummy" and cries when she makes a simple mistake. At six years of age, she is already placing the weight of the world on her shoulders. And it scares the living daylights out of me.
It is in the moments when I cannot make my kids feel better that I feel like a complete failure to them. I don't know how to love them more than I already do. My heart aches and begs and longs for them to feel the depth of my commitment to them. For them to be able to crawl back into my arms and stay safe from the world. Of course, my rational side knows that sheltering them from that same world is not in their best interest. I won't live forever and to make them think that I will be is the cruelest thing of all. But that momma bear in me...she's fierce. And she wants her cubs safe.
My mind wanders with the "what ifs" What if they believe all of the crap people tell them? What if they have low self esteem and hate themselves? What if they hate everyone else so much that they loose the positivity and shut us all out? What if they run with the wrong crowds and make the wrong choices. What if they make really stupid mistakes that get them kicked out of school or worse thrown into jail? What if they hate their parents and the world so much they take off or hurt themselves? What if, what if, what if.
What if I decided not to worry my life away? What if I decided to trust in my children and trust in myself? What if I am, after all, a good mom and exactly what these babies of mine need?
If there is a Worrier's Anonymous, I could probably be the President. But at the same time, I only want the best for my children-like every other mother in the world. Isn't that our job? To advocate for our babies and to equip them for survival. If they are not feeling secure and confident, who really failed them?
It's a journey and there are many mountains yet to climb. But I am trying. Honestly trying and with every step I mean nothing but the best.