Worry: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

I leave him notes in the morning:

1.       Your lunch is packed.

2.       Your planner is signed.

3.       Your homework is in the green folder.

4.       Have a great day!

Love, Mom

I write these notes because he wakes like bottled carbonation that’s been shaken all night long. Every paper, every expectation from his teacher, every piece of the morning routine loosens his cap until his anxiety rains down on anyone in his splash zone. He’s convinced this will be the day something is forgotten. This will be the day he will be on the receiving end of his teacher’s stern voice. This will be the day he looks something less than perfect. This very day will be the day.

The first morning I wrote him a note, he missed it in his frantic dance to rifle through his backpack to check to make sure all of his papers were there. His note fluttered to the floor where he promptly stepped on it and kicked it beneath the chair to mingle with the dust and missing Lego pieces.

Last year, my boy soaked up his teacher’s sugary sweetness like a hummingbird at its feeder, and he was happy. Praise was plentiful, and he was bolstered by her attention and affection. He loved her.

“Second grade just isn’t the same.”

With his fluency tests and math practice and Rocket math and spelling words and social studies work scattered on the kitchen table, I can see worry and anxiety in his perfect face. I can see it behind his eyes. I can see how tired it makes him. I can see myself in there.

One night while I curled next to my boy, tickling his arm and singing our favorite lullabies, he whispered, “This is the worriers’ bed.”

I was ashamed, ashamed that I’m transparent to an 8-year old. I promised to conceal my anxiety and concern. I thought I did. I’m so much better than I was.

I cupped his face in my hands, his porcelain cheeks smooth against my palms. They fit just right there—for now. “Let me do your worrying. Give that to me, okay buddy?”

He leaned against me and his tired eyes surrendered.

I was worried, but I didn’t want him to feel it slithering into my chest and tightening around my heart and furrowing my brow, so I kissed his forehead and left his room.

I want to carry his worry. I want to take that away from him. I worry that it’s too late.

All of a sudden I hate second grade.

But I know it’s not second grade. It’s not his teacher. It’s not the work.

It’s me.

The weight of that slumps my shoulders, and I’m reminded just how delicate this parenting gig is. I fear I’m one word or one look away from sending my first born to therapy sessions where I become “that woman” who held her boy to unreasonable expectations, who made him strive for perfection, who (insert emotional trauma here).

Crap.

So I promise to change. And I wallow. And I put spare change from the floor into his therapy fund just in case.

And I worry.

A few days later while my boy is walking out of hockey practice, a mom asks, “64? Cool! Who is 64?”

All the boys fight for their favorite player’s number.

“That’s me. Noah Gallo. I’m 64. Me.”

I want to shower him with kisses, but I know better.

He isn’t so fragile and delicate. I savor his confidence. While I do have to work on wearing my worry or disapproval or concern on my face, I know that my boy isn’t all worry. There is so much more to him than that.

Tomorrow when I leave his note, I’m going to include this:

noah

This confidence, this happiness, this joy is all part of the package. And for a few seconds, I’m not worried.

 

 

 

 

13 comments for “Worry: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

  1. October 2, 2014 at 8:06 am

    So touching to read this most sensitive, poignant reflection of a mother. This alone must be good for your son.

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 2, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Oh, thank you for your kind comment! My boy and I are going to work through this together 🙂 I so appreciate you reading and stopping by.

  2. October 2, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Bawling. I, too, have a worrier. And Gosh, it is just so hard. You killed me with this one.-Ashley

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      It is hard and frustrating at times, too, right? I hate seeing him in his anxious state. Do you have any strategies for working through it? I’d love to hear them! My heart goes out to you and your little one.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing!

  3. October 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I have to admit, I read this with furrowed brow (because I know of this anxiety of both the kid and mom kind), but when I got to that picture, my face broke into a smile and I got little tears in my eyes. Every child needs to know the good in them along with the things that need work. Second grade was hard for us, too. And I actually think it was the teacher. She expected all her kids to be little cut-outs – all the same. From then, I have asked that my 10 yo’s teachers be carefully considered. We have had wonderful luck in 3rd, 4th, and now 5th. It’s tough as the parent because we want to keep them under our wings and shield them. We want to take that anxiety. I really loved this post, Emily. xo

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 2, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you for such a thoughtful response, Kathy. I’m not sure what to think about his teacher. She certainly isn’t the warm, enthusiastic type that Noah responds so well to. I get the sense that there are some behavioral issues in the room that require stern, immediate responses. While I have no idea if those kids are listening to the teacher’s reprimands, Noah definitely is, and he does not want to be on the receiving end. He’s a pleaser, and he strives to be perfect. It’s admirable, but hard on a kid (and a mom). Thank you again for reading and commenting!

  4. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?
    October 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Oh man, that’s the hardest part for me as a parent, hiding the worry and fear that I feel almost every waking moment!

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 2, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Yes. I have to try not to wear my emotions so clearly on my face, epecially when so many little eyes are watching…at all times, even when I think I’m alone!

  5. Kathleen Gallo
    October 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Precious reminder to me of the many times I so wanted to fight their daily “battles” for them, make sure they had no stress, worried for them, and ALWAYS worried about them. I had to realize finally that I needed to do my best to guide them, but most of all I had to entrust them to God, who created them for me to raise, and relax and enjoy them more! They need to learn to face challenges with the strength He can give them, and I need to pray for them to realize that, and pray about them to the Lord. Then I could rest in God’s arms and not be consumed by worry for them and for me.

  6. October 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Emily, I read this, completely “getting” what you’re talking about. This school year has not started off well for us, but the thing of it is, I think it’s my worry more than almost anything else is sinking the ship. Thanks for the picture–and the gentle reminder to embrace the fun and happy.

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 3, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Meredith, I am right there with you. I need to dial it back especially when I see it in my son’s face. Second grade, man. It’s tough. Thank you so much for your sincere comment. And I’m sure you’re being harder on yourself than you need to be! I hope it’s smooth sailing from here on out.

  7. October 5, 2014 at 4:19 am

    Mmmm. So well said. I worry for my worrier too. Whenever someone says something about the innocence of childhood I want to give them a stern lecture. So hard to watch our children struggle. Thanks for speaking about it so eloquently.

  8. J-
    October 7, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Sweetly written. Parenting is tough. Am I enough? Do I expect too much? Do I make him feel like he is never good enough? Do I expect to little? Am I teaching him to be lazy? What emotional trauma have I caused in my clumsy attempt to raise this little human. Ugh. Every day, every decision, I think these things. I stress too much. 🙂 I enjoyed reading your post. Your love for your boy is evident. Thank you for sharing.
    J-

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