It’s not the spit-up or vomit in your bed in the middle of the night. Or the pee in your face from a new baby boy, the mud fights or Sharpie on the wall or digging Goldfish out of the couch or finding a now-solid milk sippy cup under the seat in the car. There are many unfun, and straight-up gross, things about motherhood. Most of them involve bodily fluids, some furniture, and you cleaning it. There are also the sibling fights, the late nights in the ER for stitches, the complete exhaustion, the cost of diapers and formula, the daycare bills, and juggling tired and screaming kids on a rainy school/work night when homework needs to be done, dinner made, lunches for tomorrow prepped, and bath, books, and bed to be gotten through. And I haven’t even mentioned actual childbirth and all the awfulness that entails.
But after four kids and almost 14 years of being a mother, I have to say the worst part of being a mom actually has nothing to do with anything my kids do or say. It’s me. Specifically, the worry I feel each and every minute of the day. Or, at least 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day. Worry about my kids. Are they in the right school? Do they have the right teacher? Do I email the teacher? Should I let them forget their lunch? How long do I give them Tylenol before we need to go to the doctor? Did I wait too long to go to the doctor? Should I let them watch TV? Did my not caring if they watched TV yesterday so I could get an hour of peace ruin them for life? Will my giving them dessert after I said they couldn’t have it screw me in their ability to listen to me next time?
And on, and on, and on.
And it gets harder, not easier. The things you start to worry about become bigger and more life-important and suddenly worrying about if they should have a phone, an Instagram account, a car… whoa. I’m already up half the night.
And what happens when they go away?
I see less of my oldest daughter now. She goes from school at 7:20 a.m. to ballet, eats, and goes straight to her room to do her homework until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. I am usually carting the other three to baseball, feeding them, and getting them to bed. I miss her. But I don’t worry about who she is with or where she is, because I know. But what happens when she goes away, and I don’t know? Have I taught her all she needs to know to stay safe? To feed herself, take care of herself?
Let alone find a job?!
I am not sure if my worry stems from lack of faith in myself, my children, or just, well life. Because as adults, we all know how scary, chaotic, and complicated life can be. I’m doing my darn best, but I worry that will not be enough. I would not trade my children or my love for them for anything. But I can do without the worry. It’s really the worst part of what otherwise has been the most rewarding part of my life. I just don’t know how to not worry. I probably never will, as long as I have four hearts walking around outside my body.