The Worry Wart


What is it that makes people worry way out of proportion to the reason for their concern? Some call it being obsessive. Some call it maternal instinct. I don’t really know how to define it; however, I think all mothers worry about their kids. My mother used to call this sort of anxiety being a “worrywart.”

Suppose you don’t hear from your kids for a few days or a few weeks. We are talking grown, adult children who have left the nest, not little children that live at home. Still, when they are late or missing, I imagine the worse. Something has happened. I panic and begin to imagine all sorts of silly things until I call on the phone only to have them say, “What’s wrong Mom? Everything is fine here. We’ve just been really busy.”

Worrywart syndrome.

It’s especially bad for me because my youngest daughter, due to some bad luck and bad health, came back home to live with me for a while. It’s really hard to emotionally separate when they are right there under your nose and you see their every move. And it’s even harder when they should be under your nose and you don’t know where they are at that particular moment.

If my daughter is late getting home, I panic. She must have had a wreck! She is probably unconscious in a ditch somewhere — she might be dead. I fret and fret, can’t sleep. I call on her cell phone and leave a message. “Call mom. I’m worried sick because you are not home.”

She calls, “Mom, I just had to work late. Everything is fine. Go back to bed.” I feel so foolish. An old woman that can’t let go of her children or cut the apron strings! What’s the matter with me?

Worrywart syndrome.

I can no more stop worrying about my children than I can stop loving them. I guess it comes with motherhood, this built-in need to worry. Some fight it successfully and say that they don’t worry any more. Others give in to it and become nagging old cronies, controlling the lives of the kids and not letting them be their own person. I don’t want to do THAT! So, I just worry instead.

Worrywart syndrome.

I guess it’s inherited. I remember when I was a teenager, how my mother was always concerned about my whereabouts. I couldn’t understand it. I don’t want my kids to resent me or to think I’m interfering in their lives. I always thought my mom was nuts, getting upset if I was thirty minutes late getting home. Now I know that I have the same disease.

Worrywart syndrome.

If there is a cure, I’d sure like to get the medicine. “Just let go”, you say! “You’ve done your job. Get a life!” Obviously, you are not a mother. I have a life. But, there is a second sense that lets you “feel it in your bones” when things are not right. Of course, you can easily misread this feeling. Motherly instinct is just a feeling, not always a reality, and
this is where the problems come in. Is it actually motherly instinct or something else?

Worrywart syndrome.

Actually, this whole issue is a bit ridiculous. Kids grow up. I need to say goodbye to them, do my own thing, be happy with their accomplishments. I don’t really want to live anyone else’s life. My own is enough, thanks. I just wish they would call home more often, that’s all.

The harder I try not to worry, the more I worry. Then I worry about being worried. How do you break out of this circle? Maybe I’ll figure it out later. Right now my daughter is late and I have to call and be sure everything is okay. Something could have happened.

Worrywart syndrome.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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