I don’t think that it is just me. Perhaps it is. Do other people worry about things before they even have any real reason to? Is it Jewish to be that way? I really do not know. Perhaps it is part of the package of being a Jewish mother. You worry if they are not dressed appropriately for the cold; you regret that you insisted that they wear a sweater when by noon it becomes sunny and balmy and you insist that they will be malnourished if they do not have at least two veggies with every meal even though you can vividly remember the times that you waited until your mother turned around so that you could put the disgusting green beans in your mouth into a napkin.
Each step of growing up is worrisome. If they are not walking when the other 2 year olds are running, if they cannot speak in sentences while the others are rattling off paragraphs, etc. It goes on and on. When does the worrying stop?
I firmly believe NEVER.
Here I am at this point in my life, the great grandmother of 24. It was bad enough that I worried about my own children, then came my children in law, then the grandchildren, then their spouses and now their babies. Oh my gosh can’t I learn to let go? I know quite well that we have no control over what will be but that really does not make me feel better.
When my children and grandchildren began to drive I worried incessantly and still do. Teenagers with a two week old license having to squeeze onto one of the entrances to Rt 4???
Driving back and forth from Lakewood to Brooklyn for a wedding, alone while pregnant, to stay for 10 minutes, say mazel tov and then turn around. Buying used cars that should have been impounded 10 years ago to transport precious babies. So what if the vents are not working properly? I dare not remind myself of the times that I anxiously waited for my parents to leave our house so that I could sneak into the city on the LIE to the Midtown Tunnel to YU to visit my beloved handsome chattan. What they didn’t know didn’t hurt them, right? They never ever would have let me take the car so far by myself. And, oy, if they ever found out that we bought a Lambretta (a motor bike) just a few weeks after we were married and zoomed around on it throughout the city of New York. I remember taking it on the Staten Island ferry as we were off to attend a bris.
As an observer of the beautiful families that we have created I have decided that worrying is just a part of life. It will be and also is. It is in our control to temper it down a few notches. As I write this I am saying to myself, “Nina, do you hear what you are writing?” I for one am not an expert at lowering the degree of worrying that my mind allows me to create.
Just today, which I guess is the reason for writing on this topic, I received a call that my daughter Naama has been complaining about her stomach. Several times she has cried, and because she is basically not able to speak it is that much more difficult to determine exactly what is bothering her. She does understand most things and is able to point to what she is complaining about. A decision was made to look into this more carefully and that means that I have to get on the phone and use my connections to see to it that she sees a doctor promptly. The Quebec medical system has removed the words “prompt and necessary” from their DSM.
She will be seen by a physician friend in the emergency room of the Jewish General Hospital in the morning. So, being Nina, I have diagnosed all the things that could be wrong with her over the past several hours. Keeping in mind that 15 years ago Naama was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, and since then she has had several medical challenges stemming from totally non cancerous conditions, I think that I have reason to be worried. But there is worry and then there is worry. Finally, tonight, after having gone through every single scenario in my mind of what the diagnosis will be, and after I Facetimed with her and realized that she looks perfectly fine and seems perfectly fine, I decided to calm down. I need to convince myself every once in a while that one does not get extra points as a mother if she worries extra. I do not think that there is such a thing as a Who Worries the Most Contest. Perhaps it would be an idea for Psychology Today magazine. I wonder which ethnic group would come out as the top winners.
I am quite sure that living in this community I can feel comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by others who are similarly inclined. Calm down, Nina, and learn from Naama; in her beautiful innocence she radiates sunshine.
P.S. After a very trying day of being a mother, I am thrilled to report that Naama is fine, B”H!
Nina Glick can be reached at [email protected].