We worry


We worry.

We all do it. It comes more naturally than anything else in parenthood, doesn’t it? More naturally than breastfeeding or disciplining or all of the other things that are more essential. We’re parents. We breathe and we worry.

When our girl was smaller, we worried a lot. Because when children are small, worry is all you’ve got. You can’t see the future and you haven’t been down this road before to know that it usually all turns out ok. You don’t know what to do and fear making a misstep. So you worry.

swing sillohuette

When our girl was two and three, we worried so much about her socially. Painfully shy and exhibiting signs of textbook introversion, she walked into new situations slowly or, sometimes, not at all. She cried outside of ballet classrooms, sobbed on the way to school for weeks and months. I’ve watched several of her friends’ birthday parties with my back against the wall of the gym and her on my lap.

In the beginning, it was hard for us. We wanted nothing more than for her to be brave and confident and outgoing. To walk with her head held high into any new situation and just join right in, as unnatural as that really is when you think about it. We wanted her to have friends and experiences and fun. In those days, we didn’t know how to handle her fears and anxieties, and didn’t have any experience to tell us that she would really be ok. So we forced and cajoled. We negotiated and threatened. Go into ballet or we won’t go out for lunch. Go play with your friends at this party or we’re leaving. Have fun at this party, dammit, or we’re not coming to any more!

Even as we said those things, we knew they were wrong. But we didn’t know what was right.

boy play structure

Last weekend, we went to the park. We walked in and cut both kids loose. The baby toddled around, sometimes wandering, mostly sticking close. But sister ran. She found a friend from school who happened to be meeting more friends and the group of them ran off, climbing on the structures that she regarded fearfully last year, diving headfirst into tunnel slides and, at times, running out of our line of sight.

While M kept an eye on her, I followed the baby around and eventually we ended up on the swings. Before long, a woman with her daughter arrived at the swing next to us. The little girl was bigger than my boy, fully verbal and bordering on too big for the baby swing. But the mother loaded her in and began to push. Before long, however, I heard her trying to force the little girl out.

“It’s time to go play with your friends now.”

And the little girl would refuse.

“Push me higher!”

This went on for quite a while. The mother telling the little girl just one more push, then it’s time to go play with your friends. You’re missing the point of this playdate. No more swinging, you have to go play. The little girl’s response was always, only, to beg for more pushing.

Later I learned that the friends the woman had been referring to were the friends that my girl had been playing with since we got there. That the little girl’s parents had organized the playdate. That they had just moved here from California, just started at our girl’s school.

And they were worried.

I can’t even imagine all the things they worry about. The way a cross-country move has affected their little girl. That joining a classroom in the middle of the year is making things hard for her. That she isn’t making friends or joining in the way they wanted her to or felt that she should. That this is how life will always be for her and she’ll never make friends or walk into new situations with confidence. Maybe she won’t walk in at all. That she’ll always want to swing by herself and what kind of life is that?

When we worry, we paint a bleak picture as far into our future as our heart’s eye can see.

I didn’t say anything to that mother that day. I have not yet learned the balance between offering helpful or kind words and sounding like a stuck up smarty pants. I’ve actually begun to doubt that there is a balance.

But watching her made me more closely examine my own actions. We’ve come a long way since those early days and tears. Our girl more easily joins in now, most of the time, and we respect her process when she doesn’t, most of the time. We worry less because we see that she will be fine. Her process will serve her well and is not entirely different from our own. She is, after all, cut from our cloth. And because of that, I don’t have to worry. I know what she is feeling, what she needs. I know that if I can help her believe in herself, trust in her process, follow her own way, then she will indeed be ok.

Watching that mother made me realize that we worry. We’re parents. We breathe and we worry. But we’re not doing right by them when we worry. It’s what we do with that worry that matters.

girl on path and we worry


pour your heart out


  1. Oh, I know exactly how you feel. I’m such a serious worry wart, it’s not even funny! But these kids have no fear, haha. It’s hard letting go, isn’t it?!
    Vi recently posted..Coming to Terms with Never Having a SonMy Profile

  2. Oh yes, worry is so natural. And it’s so hard in that moment, when you are imagining all the things that could happen or be wrong… and then later, when you have moved past it, you realize that you were worrying for nothing!
    Shell recently posted..Lighting a Candle in RemembranceMy Profile

  3. The best parenting move you can learn early on is to do … nothing. Hold back a little, see how things play out, even if they look a little rocky. It takes experience to get to that point – exhaustion can help you get there, but once you do, you see kids have a way of working stuff out without a parent’s heavy hand.
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..Guest Post: Darley of Equitrekking, on Coach Mama’s Influence on Her Adventurous SpiritMy Profile

  4. I don’t think we can ever go through parenting without worry. Big or small, we worry. And you’re right, it’s what we do with that worry that truly matters.
    Alison recently posted..Plans SchplansMy Profile

  5. oh I love this.
    the only way I get through mine is by reminding myself repeatedly worrying is praying for what I do not want.

    Carla recently posted..Reflections on my first 5k (Tornado guest post).My Profile

  6. Oh yes, worry! I worry about my boys all the time. They’re still quite little- 3 and 19 months. But I’m trying harder not to worry so much and to just focus on letting them become. It’s a beautiful process if I let it be. 🙂
    Jen recently posted..Confessions of A Sometimes BloggerMy Profile

  7. I am such a worrier, so I can totally relate to this post. Given that I have 3 kids, I thought the worrying would get better, but since all of my 3 kids are so different, I find myself worrying about different things. They love to keep me on my toes! Still, I’m trying to have more faith that everything will work out.
    Kerry recently posted..A Chance to Help a Bereaved MotherMy Profile

  8. This is a beautiful post! I coach parents on parenting their children without shame blame judgement or fear. I have learned through working with lots of parents that its all driven by their need to contribute to their children and protect them from what is really “in most cases” fears of the future. Though it is hard to let go of those fears, i truly believe it is possible. to sometimes just accept our children for who they are not what we want them to be.
    Beautiful post. Passing by from the SITS FB page!
    Marwa Farouq recently posted..Simple Ways To BUild Trust With Your ChildMy Profile

  9. And as they grow, the worries don’t get smaller, just different. 🙂
    Kristin Filut recently posted..Family Matters MostMy Profile

  10. I loved your post! I’m not a worrier by nature except when it comes to my kids. I find myself worrying about them less as they get older in some areas and more in other areas.
    Allison B recently posted..On the Importance of HurryingMy Profile

  11. So true. Sometimes I freak that my big girl, who is pretty socially awkward, will end up getting teased like I did. I worry she’ll have low self-esteem and be forced to make friends with the bad crowd….doomed to be taken advantage of and led astray. But then I talk to her, ask her how she feels about friends and people, and realize she is so, so smart. Her words, “I don’t really want to play with those people Mama because they’re not very nice. I’d rather play by myself than be with mean people.” Precious babies. They are so much smarter than we are!
    Jen recently posted..Women and Their Friends: This Chick’s Territorial Behavior, ExplainedMy Profile

  12. Stopping by from SITS Sharefest and this post was a great reminder that I am not the only person who worries. Thank you for sharing!
    Julie @ Girl on the Move recently posted..Meal Plan: Week ThreeMy Profile

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