Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Worry

What would a whole month of blogging about motherhood be without mentioning the universal language of our species-worry. I've mentioned it a time or two on my blog, okay 48 times according to my search bar, but whatever.

I grew up on the bend in the road, a spot where the slight hill that was our street began to flatten out before intersecting with a neighborhood cross street. When I first learned to ride a bicycle my dad walked me and my too big bike to the top of our hill, set me on it, and sent me flying.  Literally.  Well, almost literally.  I remember being terrified and exhilarated. Angry, hurt and, once the dust settled, proud.  There was not a helmet in sight.  Knee pads, wrist guards, and some might say good sense were nowhere to be found either.

My daughters were dressed like professional sportsmen to ride bicycles. They wore knee pads and wrist guards to roller blade, shin guards to play soccer, and mouth guards to protect their expensive smiles during lacrosse and field hockey matches.

There's a little blurb that periodically makes its way around Facebook saying something along the lines of, "I never wore a helmet or a seat belt and I made it through my childhood unscathed'. True, although I imagine not everyone can say that.

Our parents let us lay in the back of the station wagon when we traveled because that's just what people did in days gone by. They didn't slather us in sunscreen when we went outside to play or ask for passwords to our Internet accounts either.  Because we didn't know then what we know now.  We know it makes sense for kids to wear helmets and seat belts and tansun lotion as we call it around here.

Every generation wants the best for their kids. I'm pretty sure mothers from the dawn of time have been worrying about their children, doing what they can to keep them safe and protect them from harm. Mothers have always done what they could to preserve the innocence of childhood for as long as possible.  While times have changed, the heart of a mother really has not.

Worry is still her enemy.  

There are things we parents have some control over (whether or not our ten year old wears a bicycle helmet) and things we have little to no control over. I won't list those things here because every mother has her own list at the ready, no need for me to add something from mine that hasn't occurred to you yet.

I do wonder though, is there more evil in the world in 2013 or just more knowledge of it thanks to the Internet and 24/7 programming? More access to it thanks to the digital age?

We mothers, we listen to the experts, we try to pay attention to new products out there and old products being recalled.  We watch the news, talk with other mothers, lock our doors and show i.d. in order to enter our children's schools.

Still we worry.

We strap our babies into car seats and insist the grandparents do the same. We teach our children to stop and look both ways before crossing the street. We tell them not to accept a ride or anything else from a stranger. We buy bike helmets and wrist guards, and we slather SPF 50 on an impatient seven year old before she jumps back into the pool.

And still, we worry.

What do we do about all those intangible things that keep us up at night, the things a helmet or a seat belt just won't fix...a child's broken heart, their disappointment, hurt that's on the inside?

Deep down we mothers know our list is not crossed off, that it will never be crossed off. That once you have a child your heart is forever more open and raw to every joy and pain that comes their way. All the worry in the world can't change that.

So what is a mother to do?

Do you know that the Bible commands us not to worry?  It's not a suggestion, it's..."Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything..."(Phil 4:6)  When I tell my children 'Don't' I mean it.  I am not suggesting they not do something, I'm telling them no.  Don't do it.

I know there are people reading here who will think this sounds cliche, but for me prayer is the key to what I desire more than anything else as a mother and as a human being- a calm and gentle spirit.

There is something so comforting to me as a mother to know that ultimately I'm not the one in control. Yes I have to do my part as the parent, but God knows and loves my children even more than I do. That thought is almost unfathomable, yet its true.

When I was a child and would feel anxious or overwhelmed my mother would sometimes sit on my bed and say, 'tell me everything you're worrying about and I'll worry for you'.  I remember the tremendous sense of relief I felt at saying aloud all the things I worried about or feared the most. Fear and worry have always gone hand in hand for me, and just knowing my mother was there to help carry the load made it all seem less big.

That's still true for me today. When I start feeling anxious about anything concerning my children I call up all the verses I've learned throughout my life relating to worry...I say them out loud and to myself. I pray and hand those cares over one by one to the One who actually holds the future in His hand.

If I could offer only one piece of advice to mothers everywhere it would be to pray. Parenting is hard, in fact it's downright scary sometimes, but you are not alone. The same God who set the stars in the sky wants to know what it is that keeps you up at night, what lays heavy on your heart, what is worrying you.

He knows children can be difficult, but He is bigger than our biggest fear. He can soothe the deepest worry. He is able.


  1. When the boys were little, I thought the worrying would decrease as they got older. Boy, was I wrong! I wonder if a mother is ever completely worry-free?

  2. Ah yes, worry. I believe that once you become a mother, you start sleeping with "one ear open" and you start worrying. How comforting, indeed, to know that God loves our kiddos even more than we do (even if, at the same time, it's impossible to truly comprehend that ANYONE could love them more than we do). Prayer IS the key!

  3. There's a lot of great parenting advice in this post :)

  4. Oh I say AMEN to it all. Our only escape from worry IS prayer.

    Enjoy your week-end!

  5. My middle name is "worry-wart". I do so worry about Mandy and now Savannah. But then, I have lost a child, so perhaps this is why I worry so much.

  6. After you worry about your children, a little respite and then you start worrying about your grandchildren!

  7. Worry is definitely a big one. I try to give it to God, but so many times I end up picking it back up again. If I could just remember to let him keep it.

  8. Love this. I am praying more than ever now that I have three boys! ACK!

  9. i have to admit, i am quite the worrier---this was a wonderful reminder--thank you joyce :)

  10. I think one of our problems is that we see God more as a super-human, rather than completely 'other.' We have nothing to compare Him to. But how could the Creator of the Universe not be able to take care of our children? Good post, Joyce. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. God is trustworthy.

  11. I have worry lines from worry about my child! Have a wonderful worry free weekend!

  12. This is so well written. I often wished I could have just turned my kids loose in the car on long trips, but the worry factor wouldn't let me. And that's fine - they were safer - but worry takes the fun out of things.

    I love your mama saying, "tell me everything you're worrying about and I'll worry for you." I wish I'd known that line when my kids were younger.

  13. Your advice is excellent. Love what your mom said to you. I didn't start praying until later in my life but I pray daily to God for the protection of my children and family. I was helped at a Woman's Retreat with a box that had a hole in the bottom. We wrote down all our worries and gave then to God in that box.

    I was a bit overprotective at times but my children did learn from that. I remember leaving in the car and my kids must have been maybe 5 and seven. My son said "Mom, don't go yet, Amber doesn't have her seat belt on." Of course on the other had in the heat of summer I tried to get him to wear boxer shorts to bed and he said "But what if there is a fire?" He need to have PJ's I guess I verbalized a little too much at times!

  14. These alphabet topics need to be printed and bound for publishing. There are so many precious moments recorded but also so many life lessons. There is a reason the scripture stresses to not fret, not worry and not fear. This is the opposite of faith. Yes, He is the answer, even for us sometime "concerned" grandmothers.

  15. I´m just catching up with your posts and this really hit home. I have worried many a day and like you, I rely on God to take my heavy thoughts away. Your post was very moving and I hope many young mothers take your words to heart.