Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Mommy worries

I'm a little out of sorts so my husband had to take the little darling to class tonight (just your average run and tumble with other kids class). As they were leaving I cautioned him a few times to be careful. He finally said, "What's up? Did you have a premonition or something?" No. I'm just sick. And I worry when I'm not in control of things.

And with kids it seems that on some level, you are rarely in control. I've wondered if my excessive worries are a sign of something worse. I was somewhat relieved when I stumbled across this post at DotMoms. It appears that if I am insane, I am in excellent company because the world is full of mommies who go into extended worry mode. I worry that when she learn to swim she'll go to far and be attacked by sharks. I worry that if we visit her grandpa in Florida, the alligator who lives in the waters near the retirement community's nine hole golf course will zero in on her. I worry that she jump out of my arms an into danger in an astonishing variety of ways. Mind you, I am never the perpetrator of harm in this little worrying daymares; instead, I'm always wondering how I will be able to protect my little one from x,y and especially z.

I used to think my mom was crazy when she fussed about how she worried. Now look at me. I am my mother.

My extensive experience with worry has caused me to think that if I'm not the only mommy in the world who worries so absurdly, is there some biological and/or chemical reason for our fears? Has someone conducted a scientific study on this issue? There is so much focus on post-partum depression, but no one warned me about the level of fear I would periodically experience--except my brother.

I'm apparently not the only person wondering about all this worrying. Literary Mama has a book review of A Potent Spell: Mother Love and the Power of Fear by Janna Malamud Smith. Written by a psychotherapist, A Potent Spell is less a scientific study and more a literary/historical commentary. I was particularly attracted by this quote: "The maternal mind is a sheepdog herding a flock in the rain -- nudging, circling, barking, nipping heels, keeping an eye out for predators, and panting with effort that may or may not accomplish its aim. We sense that somewhere, maybe close or maybe not, wolves threaten. We labor to keep them away." According to the reviewer, the book goes off on tangents from time to time, and she may rehash common feminist views of history that don't pertain to her premise, but the book is a "captivating" read. Barnes and Noble has excerpts from Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.

I am intrigued by this book, although I get the feeling that I might find it too simplistic for what I'm trying to understand. I'm less concerned about the alleged detrimental impact all this worry has on my career, and more concerned about how it affects me and my child (and to some degree my husband) as people and as a family. At least I have some reassurance now that I'm not alone in worrying.

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