In The Mommy Zone Column

The Art of Worry

I’ve perfected the art of worry. It’s my prerogative as a busy mother of six children.

For the past 23 years, I’ve worried about baby bumps and bruises, coughs and colic, diarrhea and diaper rash. I’ve stressed over children’s wobbly first steps, teething troubles, toilet training, and tummy trauma. And don’t get me started on nebulizers, nausea, newborns, nosebleeds, and nightmares.

Then comes the splinters, sleepovers, Scout overnighters, sports injuries, shattered collar bones, and of course, standardized schooling. And don’t forget those clumsy crutches, carsickness crusades, chronic braces, cheesy first dates, and clumsy driving permits. My list goes on and on…

It’s difficult for me to watch my children struggle, hence the years-long consummate worry fixation. I fret if I taught them enough, if I supported them enough, if I loved them enough. Yet I’ve always battled in life’s trenches right alongside them all, assisting each as best I could in this so-called life.

Our oldest three children have now come of age and have left the safety of our home. In fact, fifty percent of our children are now gone, as our oldest son is away at college and our next two eldest sons are serving church missions in faraway lands—cue my anxious angst.

Furthermore, our two full-time missionary sons are serving in Guatemala and southern Mexico and both have endured many difficulties. I worry about their safety as one of only a few Americans serving deep in their respective country’s jungles. Our second son’s emails witness of non-existent electricity, of cold bucket showers and jungle rats, of sickness from ingesting rice and slugs, of infections from breathing volcanic ash. Our third son’s emails reveal struggles with food poisoning, consuming teethed fish, country violence, hunger, rejection, and of drinking bagged fresh water.

But as their weekly emails expose their harsh trials and tribulations, I realize that these very struggles are what is molding and shaping them into the young men I had prayed they would someday become—more caring, thoughtful, compassionate, able, and capable servants. I’m fairly certain they don’t reveal half of what they endure, yet each week’s letter depicts a more humble, conscientious, faithful, obedient, hard-working, trustworthy young man that is changing and growing in ways I could never have imagined.

They both seem to be thriving upon these difficult circumstances, with each challenge revealing a stronger, more resilient young missionary. The rejection compels them to seek more opportunities for growth and service. Their hunger has disclosed more gratitude for the blessings of home and family. Their sicknesses are humbling, serving as catalysts for continued obedience and determination.

Even though they are so far away and there is not much I can do for them, I still worry, for I’ve perfected the art of worry and I’ll probably never stop. I do trust in the growth process and in mothers letting go of their children, but that’s my own obstacle to overcome someday. At least when that day arrives, I’ll have my weathered worries to keep me company, and of course, myriads of mothering memories.

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