When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son’s head and asked: “When can I stop worrying?” The nurse told me; “When he gets out of the accident stage.” My parents smiled and said nothing.
In my thirties, I sat on a chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class and was headed for a non-career. A teacher told me; “Don’t worry, they all go through this stage. Then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them. My parents smiled and said nothing.
In my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, for the car to be returned to its parking place in the garage, for the front door to be locked for the night. A friend said; “They’re trying to find themselves. Don’t worry. In a few years they’ll be adults, out of your hair, and hopefully, safe drivers.
When I turned 50, I was tired of being vulnerable. I still worried about my children but there was a new wrinkle. I continued to anguish over their problems, was tormented by their frustrations and absorbed their disappointments. And there was nothing I could do about it. My parents smiled faintly.
My friends said that when my kids got married, I would stop worrying and lead my own life. Oh how I wanted to believe that. But, I was haunted by my parents’ warm smiles and their occasional ‘you look pale. Are you alright?’
My friends told me that when I became a grandparent I would get to enjoy the happy little voices yelling Grandma! Papa! But I worry just as much about the little children as the big ones. How can anyone cope with all this worry?
Are parents sentenced to a life of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and fear of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of earthly creation?
Recently one of my children became quite irritable, saying to me; “Where were you? I’ve been calling for days and no one answered the phone. I was worried.” I smiled a warm smile because the torch has been passed on.