I Worry So

2607 2607_ () 2607 2607 Henry is sitting in my bathroom on the counter. He has filled the sink with water and is using my lotion cap as a small cylindrical sailboat.

I was about to dry my hair when he climbed up next to me. So my immediate reaction is to unplug my hairdryer and moved it out of the way.

I decide to stand in my bedroom to dry my hair. That way Henry can keep playing in his ocean of adventure while I watch from a safe distance. But as I stand at my mirror I can’t shake the feeling that there is danger lurking as he sits on the counter to play.

What has become of me? Why must I turn these sweet moments of fun into moments of peril. Is danger really lurking around every corner, or is that just me?

Am I crazy, or am I just a mother?

Charlie recently burned his leg with a bowl of ramen noodles. We have since found out, after our initial trip to the emergency room and then the burn unit, that this is a common injury. I had no idea.

We’ve now had several follow-ups at the wound center and I am amazed what it takes to deal with the injuries from a bowl of microwave-heated liquid.

The scary thing is this: ramen noodles were never on my list of Things I Fear. And I think I reflect on this fact every time one of my children gets hurt.

I have my list of things I’m constantly “aware of” and so far we are running about a 4:1 ratio. For every four times we wind up in the emergency room, only one of them is for something that is actually on The List.

To review:

Henry’s broken femur and subsequent seven-week full-body cast: not on the list.

Isabel’s freakishly swollen eye and overnight hospital stay: not on the list.

Elliott’s stitches for pocket knife injury: totally on the list.

Charlie’s second and third degree burns from spilling soup on his thigh: never considered it.

So now on my running list of things to “Be Aware Of” (translated: freak out about) I’ll be thinking of hot soup and long dog leashes and walking into my daughter’s room to discover her eye has been replaced by something the size of a golf ball.

Does Motherhood Suck the Fun out of Everything?

Yes and no.

I have decided, on the heels of our most recent health adventures, that it’s time to go back to my approach of letting it all go. I tell myself that even though I know I can’t really do that — but I understand (in theory) that’s what God wants. He doesn’t want me to carry the burden of fear that something horrible might happen to one of my children.

“But I love them so much,” I tell the Lord when I’m feeling overwhelmed and scared.

“So do I,” he reminds me, “more than you can even comprehend.”

So back I go to the foot of the cross. I lay these things down — the fear of cuts and bruises, of broken bones. I put these at his feet, along with even my most unspeakable fears. I give them to him, because he wants them.

God wants freedom for us, and he wants joy. And while he understands that we are humans with human nature, he really does not want us to carry the weight of the “what if’s”. That’s not his plan for us.

The best we can do somedays is remind ourselves of this. And on the very best days we can somehow, through grace, loosen the grip we have. We don’t loosen the reign we have on our children, but we release them to God, all the while understanding that God put them in our care but that they are, ultimately, His.

“Be not afraid,” says Blessed John Paul II.

I’ll put that bumper sticker on my van as I (oh-so-carefully) drive down the highway.

This originally ran as my weekly column in The Southern Cross.
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  1. Just what I needed to read today. Thank you. God bless you.

  2. Right on, Sister!!

  3. True, true. So easy to think about the what ifs…and so surprising to discover those crazy mishaps we never even imagined fearing…like the full body cast!

  4. We ended up in the ER last weekend with 2nd degree burns on my 21 month old’s fingers b/c she touched the brakes of the car! Who knew! The “hubcap” is not a solid piece. It is on a 2005 Honda Odyssey. There are triangles cut out – I assume it is an esthetic decision. Anyway, she stuck her hand through after we’d driven for 6 minutes and ended up with some yucky blisters. Certainly not as serious at the Ramen noodle burn. Glad you told me about that one. Ramen noodles are a staple in my house!

  5. Thanks for your insight once again. I definitely needed to read this after my three-year-old tumbled face first down a long wooden staircase last night and I briefly wondered if we could sell our 2-story house and move to a ranch. Potential-Injury-Phobia seems written into my genes….but padded walls and floors hardly seem to be the answer. You’re definitely right – it’s faith that the Lord knows best and lots and lots of prayer.

    Sometimes padded walls seem easier.

  6. I can so relate! With two young boys, we’ve already logged a stove burn and a broken leg. (The cast was removed from my toddler’s leg just days before his brother was born!) When a new stand-alone ER was built a few miles from our home, I insisted that we go tour during their open house… because I am sure we will need to pay a visit sometime. And it will probably from something that is not on “the list”.

  7. I love your posts! Thank you for sharing your stories and reflections on Christ.

  8. Your articles/posts have been really on fire, lately!

    I struggle with fear, too, sometimes well and sometimes badly. Five years ago, after my then-baby was diagnosed with a brain tumor I almost lost my mind from worry. “Brain Tumor” had definitely not been on my list! The weird thing for me was that it wasn’t until *after* the danger had passed and she was on the road to recovery that I started to freak out, and it was over things like the stability of our swing set, or the chance that my other girls would be abducted by someone who saw them playing in the front yard. I eventually realized that when actual bad things happen, we deal with it. What I can’t handle is the danger I imagine. I think you maybe even wrote something along these lines a while ago, about getting the grace to handle the crosses you are given, not the ones you fear? Anyway, I try to remember that when I start to head down a bad path mentally.

  9. How well I needed to hear that concerning fears for my son and fears for myself. We are going through a real time of trial right now and it’s easy to be scared. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Oh, another wonderful post! I worry so much, especially since my middle son fell 2 summers ago and pretty badly hurt his head. I honestly feel like it cause me post traumatic stress. How precious and vulnerable they are can be overwhelming some times. I asked my mother how she handled this and she said only with God. It was constant prayer and faith. Not always easy!

  11. Last fall, my then 14-year old had an anaphylactic reaction to cashews – a previously undiagnosed food allergy. This required a call to the paramedics, a near-death experience, and an overnight stay at the hospital. We now have Epi pens in strategic locations and he checks every label on everything he eats. With 4 boys and the myriad of ER visits we have had, this was definitely NOT on my list. It takes my breath away every time I think of it, although at the time I was calm and collected in dealing with it. Fast forward to this fall and same child has now acquired his learner’s permit. I just have to force myself not to read articles about traffic accidents and fatalities, or think about all the potential hazards out there on the roads. Personally, I would be happy to invest in large quantities of bubble wrap….!!

  12. Catherine Carlson says

    I wasn’t a reader back when your son had his accident, but I went back to your archives today to find out about it. My brother’s son, who is almost the exact same age as your boy was, did the same thing to his femur earlier this year. Having seen this same injury twice now, I will add “little boys running around” to my list of things to worry about. 🙂

  13. Even worse? Being accused of doing the injury and having to prove your innocence because one doctor with a god complex said, “No way this is an accident.”

    You know, to add to Things I Worry About (now) !

  14. As we waited to see the doctor for an evaluation of whether my son needed stitches for the gash on his nose last week, the nurse walked in and said “I should have known it was you guys.” Clearly, we have had a few too many accidents recently 🙂 It is hard to let go of fear, but in my experience the injuries often happen when you would least expect it – plenty of adult supervision, nothing dangerous happening, just the ordinary stuff. I don’t know if this makes me feel better or worse!

  15. Just to prove how common those Ramen burns are — about three days after you blogged about your sons burns, my nine year old did the exact. same. thing! I had a mild freak out, but blessedly, his burns didn’t seem to be *quite* as bad as yours. And I was very glad, because we’re still paying off ER bills from his last visit! Out of my five kids, only the two boys have been to the ER — imagine that!

  16. Rachel, you never know how our Lord may use these incidents for His good! I found your blog and the Faith & Family Live Blog a few years ago when my own little guy was laid up in a hip-spica cast. Your journey with Henry led me to learn about being a better Catholic. I am forever grateful! :o)

  17. I feel like an inadequate mother sometimes. Because my son and daughter (4 and 2 yo) have both been to the emergency room. I do my best every single day. And I have a tendency to totally over think everything when it comes to those precious bodies and spirits. I shield them from so much. Too much. I am wildly crazy about strangers. I see danger everywhere. And I wonder sometimes if I am going to end up with two little neurotics and a heart attack over nothing. Will they miss out on some of the most beautiful life experiences and people because I am too cautious. Especially when I end up in an Emergency Room for a slip in the bathtub while showering with me, his poor little head hit the soap dish, the soap dish broke slicing his scalp open where you could see the skull. Ended up with 8 little staples in his scalp. AND I HAD the slip resistant grippy things all over!!!! I try to control it all. But my soul hears very clearly that it is not my purpose to control. That He WILL. Of course my mama’s heart can only let go so much, but I hear Him. Thanks for the reminder. (and the opportunity to ramble. Sheesh, sorry about that!)

  18. Oh, my I need to read this. Thank you so much!

  19. We would not be doing our job as parents if we did not seek their safety, so in a sense worrying is a way of showing that we care. Of course we do not want anything bad to happen to them. And so we are cautious, we show them the signs of danger, but inevitably they will get hurt one way or another. But there is a healthy degree of worrying. It is all in the balance. As you said, God is everywhere and if we ask him, he will take care of our little, and not so little ones. A mother’s prayers always have God’s attention.