Mrs E is a worrier. Not just one of those people who worries a bit, but a true international level, get out of bed in the morning and get started type worrier. On the odd occasions when she relaxes, she sometimes reflects that she hasn’t got anything to worry about, which of course starts to worry her.
And because we appear, without really noticing ourselves, to have super-sized our family, most of her worry tends to get focussed on the kids. I call them kids, in reality of course, they’re large bodies that have started to cast ever larger shadows in the house; one of the current discussions in the house, for example, is whether we’re going to need to replace the current stupidly large vehicle with a larger one when the eldest leaves home and there’s less of us. Maybe we should stop feeding them. That’d save a few quid.
Anyway, we sat down together after a long week last night, and started our regular evening worry exchange. Mrs E has worried herself at new heights around #1 for the last 6 months, and he’s finally got into a good place which allows a brief respite of worry until we can start fretting about him being away from home, drinking too much, not eating properly etc, so the focus expanded a bit.
Here are some of the things we worried about (note, the ‘he’ is largely interchangeable between kids, depending on the mood of the day) :
- is he working hard enough?
- is he working too hard?
- is it worth continuing with activity x/y/z?
- does he have enough friends?
- does he have too many friends?
- why is friend x an absolute t****r?
- will he ever get a job?
- is he eating properly?
- is he getting enough exercise?
- is it possible to be cool while wearing a bike helmet?
and so on…and, of course:
- is he happy?
And, I was reminded of this conversation when I listened to a Garrison Keillor podcast this morning. Mr Keillor is the kind of person who could read out the phone book to you in a voice of gravel and honey and you’d instantly relax, and in ‘Lake Wobegon Days’ he manages to weave stories and messages in a way that you relax into and find yourself smiling and nodding along to, and occasionally stopping and shouting out ‘yes, that’s absolutely right’. Which is a bit awkward if you’re listening to the podcast on a run, as I was.
Anyway, this is what he said:
“It’s terrifying to see the brood getting ready to fly from the nest; to see your children standing on the cliff, with the wings they have made out of hot wax and chicken feathers. And they’re putting on lead anklecuffs, and you want to say darling don’t jump; don’t do that, you can take the car, take the car…drive, or something. But they will jump, and they will fall, and they will have a limp for the rest of their lives…as you and I do.”
And meanwhile, in this house we’ve currently got ourselves occupied with taxing bicycle journeys, friendships, exams, more friendships, self-image and everything else that is likely to hit potholes over the next few years. But if we didn’t worry then that would feel wrong as well. And in any case, the best people I’ve ever met are the ones who’ve had a fall and learnt how to travel with the resulting limp.
And partly because I really don’t want to end a blog with the word ‘limp’, I wish you all well with your mistakes and those of your loved ones.
*Three points for this reference