The Worry O’Meter


If I worry enough, will that make it okay?

So, motherhood. It’s a whole new realm of worrying, isn’t it? I read recently that when it comes to being a parent, there’s a very (VERY) fine line between all-consuming love and sheer, never-felt-before fear. Oh, the FEAR. Are ‘What’ and ‘If’ the two scariest words known to mum? And dads, of course.

I pondered this earlier, when I found myself having a little cry whilst reading some info on the schools’ application process. Me having a little cry about anything related to important changes in Z’s life is not uncommon. Yes, I cried (stealthily) during our first school visit, no I could not help it, yes my husband was mortified, no I did not care. It was just too overwhelming; it’s the school we really want him to go to, but he is little, and it is very big. Denial is key.

Thus, I found myself wondering today: these things I worry about so much, if they are worried about enough, will they go away?

Beyond those school gates (pleeeease let them be the gates we want oh PLEASE) is a world in which we can only go with him so far. We can hold his hand until it’s time for him to go off into that playground, in his new uniform with his little coat and bag. Then he is gone (until home time when I will be the happiest person in the WORLD). Our baby boy. The absolute love of mine and Adam’s life. I am reassured that the teachers are kind and caring and he will be welcomed and looked after by them. Hopefully some of his nursery friends will join him.

But what I do not know is who else he will meet. Who will he play with? Who will be friends with him? Who will help him if he needs it? Will they be nice to him? Naturally, the idea of anyone not being nice to him feels me with a blinding fury that I can’t even express. It’s hard to hear terribly sad stories of bullying and not panic. Children can be very cruel. Often without even meaning to. But still, they can. And on the flip side? I know what a sweet, generous, funny, loving and playful little boy he is. He knows how to behave kindly. Just as I have to trust he will make lovely friends, I have to know he’ll be lovely to others, and hope with all I have that he will settle and be happy, and these worries will remain abstract, and turn to nothing in stone.

Do school and nits not go hand in hand? Oh, but the very idea of them makes my scalp crawl, let alone the reality. The day they happen will involve shrieking and not just their arrival in Z’s luscious locks, but in mine. Because my long hair is extra thick and curly, and whilst I dream of a head of glistening SJP-esque curls (at its finest during SATC), this remains a dream. Unless we are enjoying very hot temperatures, my left-to-dry-naturally hair leaves me resembling a backcombed Brian May crossed with Worzel Gummidge. It is very attractive. You can imagine why nits will be such a problem. Apparently, they hate products, so it will be V05 mousse and Elnett all the way when they strike. Those little critters will be bouncing away from our big bouffants STAT, I hope. Maybe the extent of my worry on this will make it not *quite* so bad after all. But that’s probably clutching at claws. Blyuuuuurggggghh.

Everything becomes a potential hazard when kids come along. Not just the obvious; roads, steep stairs, open windows, ponds, but those kitchen counter edges, unattended hot drinks, an oven door left open – the list goes on. I feel constantly alert for the things he can damage/be damaged by, I am always trying to second guess what will hurt him. Nine times out of ten this worry comes to nothing, and it’s a blessed relief each night when he is asleep; another day done, another day safe. Tick! But recently we had a scare, when he came home from nursery very distressed, with a rapidly rising temperature. He screamed when I turned on a light upstairs; he couldn’t bear to be in any light whatsoever. You know what word immediately burst into my mind. And you know that once the ‘M’ word is thought, you can’t un-think it and dismiss their increasing temperature and drowsiness. Or their inability to even be comforted by TV because it’s too bright. Even though Paw Patrol makes me want to hide from the TV too.

To cut a long story short, 111 were brilliant and sent paramedics, they in turn were brilliant and because they must be ultra-cautious with these symptoms, we went by ambulance to hospital and stayed the night, so Z could have antibiotics on a drip. Holding your screaming child in the back of an ambulance, distracting them as the doctor finds a vein for a cannula, soothing them as they lay in a much-too-big-for-their-tiny-body hospital bed . . . Well, it’s all of those worries come true, whilst being immeasurably grateful it isn’t worse, and hopefully never will be.

Just . . . will he be healthy and happy and safe? That is all. Right now, he is only three and a half years old. He is a pure, sweet soul who knows only love. He is protected and knows nothing of the horrors of the world out there. I want him to live a life of adventure and excitement and exploration and endless possibility, whilst equally wanting to protect him and never let him feel a moment’s anguish or heartbreak or fear or sadness ever. Becoming a parent is absolute, unconditional love. It is also accepting the worry, which starts the day you know you’re expecting and is there every day. Not all day, every day, because how would we ever get anything done? But it’s what we signed up for and it’s here to stay. Now how about some Valium for that first day of school? And a nice hot cup of tea. Possibly laced with brandy.

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