What, Me Worry?

Why is it, my daughter could be operating a prostitution ring at college and I don’t know, nor do I worry, but she’s home for a week and I am stricken with anxiety that, God forbid, she walks across the street and twists her ankle?

For all I know, when my daughter's at college, she's walking around in ruby slippers and impersonating Judy Garland.

Or maybe she’s missing classes because she’s a mule for some Columbian drug lord? Who knows, really, what goes on in college? When she’s at school, more than 2,000 miles away, I don’t give a thought to what she’s doing.

Nor am I sitting at home fretting for her safety. Is she going to class? That’s great. Not going? Well, she must have been up late studying.  Didn’t show up for work? No doubt, she was under the weather. No one’s been able to reach her for days? Probably wants her privacy. Frankly, I don’t know and I’m not losing any sleep over what she’s doing and how late she’s staying out.

Yet, now that she’s home for the summer, I am a basket case of frazzled nerves, every time she crosses the threshold of our humble abode, and steps into the treacherous world. I immediately start to imagine all that can go wrong.  Suddenly, the relatively safe neighborhood in which we reside, becomes roach motel—crawling with a bevy of no-goodniks, unsavory miscreants, sleazy scoundrels and wannabe snipers.  The seamier side of society has thrust itself upon my doorstep, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all standing in the way of my daughter’s wellbeing.

So maybe I don’t know what risks she’s taking on a daily basis in college—bungee jumping, tightrope walking, or just streaking across campus—but here, when it’s right under my nose, it’s all I can do to avoid ultimate panic mania.  Yes, I have become the kind of mother that would have driven even myself crazy. The kind that lurks in bushes, keeping an eye on their children at a “safe” distance, with their, ahem, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel—just to ensure said child arrives at their destination in one piece. Two blocks away.

And I have my own mother to thank for passing this baton on to me. When I was six, the only way I was allowed to cross the street, so that I could play with my friend, Beverly Lepinsky, was to stand on the curb in front of my house and yell for Beverly’s mom.

“Mrs. Lepinsky!” I’d shout.  Nothing.

“MRS. LE-PINNN-SKEEEE!”

Beverly’s mom would peer at the kitchen window. Her job was to watch me cross to their side of the street. Looking both ways was my mantra, and this little ritual, of crossing by myself, was supposed to make me feel all grown up, knowing that my mother had entrusted me with my life.

But I knew better.  My mother didn’t trust me with anything, let alone my life. Once I opened the door and stepped out of the house, she would tiptoe right behind me and hide behind a tree, ready to pull me back from the curb if I didn’t look both ways or if I didn’t wait for Mrs. Lepinsky to show her face at the window. I’d hear a sound, a footstep, and turn around.  But my mother must have been a cat burglar in another life for I never did catch her in the act. Drats! I swear my mother had a bullwhip that caught me at least twice, when I was on the brink of stepping into the street in front of an oncoming car.

Well, my mother was on to something. Anything to keep me safe, and here I am, living proof, that her strategy worked. Which is why, when it comes to my daughter, I’m following in my mother’s footsteps. Only I’m not sure I want to be that kind of mom and I have to admit, my daughter isn’t six years old anymore.

So, I’ve decided. From now on, I’m sending Henry out to do my dirty work.  He’s had lots of experience lurking and leaping into bushes, so he’s perfect for the job of keeping my daughter out of harm’s way. That is, until she goes back to college. Which is when I can safely say,

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44 thoughts on “What, Me Worry?

  1. I hope what I just read doesn’t transfer to me :-) My daughter’s still home right now and I kinda wonder what my mental transition to evolve to. Or at least, i hope it evolves. I know now, she’s always talking about getting a ride with somebody if I have a schedule conflict and I quickly so NOOOO! She’s 14 and I want to be her only driver, or her dad. I even had a tough time letting her ride with her brother for awhile but I got over that. With friends, who’re older and although good kids, I take away the worry with carry and Just Say No. :-)

  2. The summers while my sons were in college were very challenging and certainly full of worry. I too was rarely anxious when they were away at school but when they were around it seemed there was always something. Another weird mom moment: one of my sons went to college to become a pilot and was learning and flying planes every day. I hardly ever thought about him flying but whenever I knew he was heading home I always worried about the driving.

    • Exactly! Maybe it’s an out of sight, out of mind sort of thing. It’s like what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Or college. But here in my home, under my roof, I worry. The mother instinct goes into hyper-drive.

  3. OMG Monica. This is what I love about your blog. You relate humorously what we all are feeling or experiencing. Since my daughter is home for the summer, I can soooo relate. Thanks for a good laugh first thing in the morning to start my day.

  4. My daughter is ALSO home for the summer (well half of it) so I completely understand…. and I’m REALLY fretting as I think of her setting out to her internship in the big city…. maybe I’ll find a lot of bushes and trees to hide behind there :)

    • Good for you! It’s a mother’s job to do everything they can to keep our children safe. No matter how embarassing it might be if caught hiding in the bushes. Do it and do it proudly! :)

  5. Our mothers must have been related. My mother was so sneaky, I never realized she was following me or eavesdropping on my conversations until I realized that she did that with my younger sister. I am just the opposite. I vowed I would not be my mother when my children were born and I’ve always been worry-free.

  6. My daughter is all grown up (kind of), living clear across the country, but I remember those days oh-so-well. Out of sight/out of mind. Under my roof, I’d be sleepless until she came home. And how our own mothers insinuate themselves into the equation! Really delightful post –

  7. a bevy of no-goodniks, unsavory miscreants, sleazy scoundrels and wannabe snipers. The seamier side of society has thrust itself upon my doorstep,… I may not have kids, but know smart, funny writing when I see it. Thanks for your post.

  8. This is very true, even with Sophie at the young age of 3 1/2. When she’s at school, I don’t worry at all if she’s climbing the crazy jungle gym or running around like a crazy kid. But if I’m with her, OMG, I freak out over the perils of the playground equipment. It’s terrible. I can only imagine it gets worse with time.

  9. Such a relief to read your post today. My son, as I write, is at orientation for college. While I feel lucky that he’s saying local, he is itching to move out. I was worried that I would be worried every single day I did not see or hear from him. I’m glad to know that I will be just fine. Until then, though, I will continue to stalk his every move…he calls me a “creeper” because of this:)

    • It’ll be ok. You will find yourself so busy with your own life that you won’t have time to worry about what he’s doing. The time that he’s away will go fast and before you know it, he’ll be home again. At which time you can pick up where you left off and drive yourself crazy with worrying and stalking and just being a creeper…Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

  10. My children are grown and with children of their own but I so remember the worry when they were at home. I vowed I wouldn’t be the possessive mother of my mother’s type and when they were away at University (or perhaps even flatting) I didn’t imagine all those no-goodniks, unsavory miscreants, sleazy scoundrels and wannabe snipers lurking in wait for my kids. But when they returned home I reverted to my mother.
    Great post.

  11. Monica, having a Spanish mother, I can so relate to your childhood angst of not being able to cross the street unless Mrs. L was there to watch you. My mother was the same way and she had Cat Woman skills, just like your mom. The Daugher lives in the States and although I worry, it’s nothing compared to how I worry about the Son, who’s still living at home. I wonder why that is. I think the closer they are to you, the more you worry. Like my nana would say, “it’s a mother’s job to worry.” Grief. Another great post, and one that most mothers can relate to, Monica. Please tell me Henry’s getting extra treats for his new body guard detail outfit. :)

    • Henry is the lord of this house. He gets more privilege’s than I and my kids put together. Indeed, he also gets first crack at my paycheck each month. I think he tampers with my shopping list, as it seems buying dog food and treats somehow manages to be at the top of the list whenever I go shopping. My doted-upon dog expects no less. ;)

  12. My kids are still quite young, 7, 3, and 15 months, and my hubby says I worry way too much. They are hardly ever out of my sight and I don’t plan on changing that any time soon! lol. Stopping by from LBS

  13. Yes, this has happened to me. Not only has this happened, but my son home from college, has decided that he doesn’t agree with anything, and I do mean anything, that we have taught him. Isn’t it amazing how the relationships he’s made in the two years at college are somehow deeper and more genuinely interested in him than the people who have bled, sweat and cried rivers of tears for him in the past 19 years? Oh well…he’ll come around…when he has a son someday…;)

    • I think you’re right. He will come around and be grateful for all you taught him. Kids are that way. They rebel and would rather listen to any stranger instead of their parents. But then, they come back. Because they finally figure out that nobody loves them like their parents. Watch, you’ll see! ;)

  14. Hah! I live in Japan, and my son goes to college in…Minnesota. I really had very little anxiety this past year, especially since I knew he was spending holidays with relatives, and we Skyped frequently so I knew he was alive. NOW THAT HE’S HOME FOR THE SUMMER, it’s different…just as you said! We’ve already gotten one “overdrawn” notice from his bank, an academic warning from the Dean’s office, and he put a big old dent in our brand-new car just this morning. I am instantly a ball of worry. And wrinkles! No wonder I choose a bird as my Avatar…no-one wants to see what I really look like now. : (

    • It’s almost a relief when they go back to school. Then they become someone else’s worry, though I’m not sure the Dean is losing any sleep wondering why they’re out late. Oh well, guess it comes with the territory of being a parent!

  15. There is always something to worry about when you have kids. What I find fascinating is we have all of these rules while they live under our roof. Then they head off to college with free rein to come and go as they like. It’s always strange when they come home for that first Thanksgiving visit and you catch yourself saying “Midnight curfew, right?”

    • My daughter has completed her second year of college which officially makes her a junior. There’s no way I can enforce a curfew. I have to hope for the best, and pray that all my years of indoctrinating her with phrases, such as “Mother knows best,” hit home.

  16. It is so hard NOT to worry but I do try…I have 5 grown kids 4 are married w/children and boy do I worry about the grand kids when I let my mind wonder there. My husband says I have to trust and have faith that these kids have been given all the right tools to handle any situation. I trust them it is the weirdo’s and crazy people lurking out there that I do not trust.

  17. It is so strange ….. my daughter 3,000 miles away in college I sleep like a baby. Under my roof home for breaks I’m
    sleeping with one eye open until my little chick is back in the nest for the night. Now she is a college graduate with a
    new job 3,500 miles away , I wonder what the next stage is ??????

  18. I haven’t had a child go away to school yet…I’m just hoping that they all go away at some point (oops…I think I might have said that out loud!). I was only overprotective for the first one…by the time the third one came along, she was allowed to do things the oldest one couldn’t dream of doing…

    Hope you can relax once your daughter goes back in the fall, Monica!

    Wendy

    • Once I wrote the post, it helped me in calming my nerves. Last night, I fell asleep before she came home and I have no choice but to believe her when she says she got home by 2am. Let’s just hope there was no nefarious activity going on… :)

  19. I know many parents who feel like you do. When my daughter was in 2nd grade I let her and a friend go down the block to the gas station to buy some candy. Later that night her friend’s mother called to say she was shocked I let these girls out alone and her daughter was never coming to our house again. Over the years I always knew my daughter was out doing anything but what she told us she was doing. I said lots of prayers for her and set consequences the times I had proof. But I didn’t lose much sleep. When she was in Russia for a semester she used to call us at 3 a.m. Russian time while waiting for a taxi. Ain’t NOTHING good happening at 3 a.m. in Russia. So then I wished I were living in blissful ignorance. Now she’s basically out of the house and I can’t keep her from calling, texting, skyping and giving me up to the minute updates on her life. Everything changes.

  20. Well, my mother does that with me too, when I come home to visit. I’m in college in Los Angeles, my mom lives at home in Los Angeles, and I live in an apartment in Long Beach, all in California. So whenever I come home, my mom begins to fuss over me a lot.

    I’d simply put it down to motherly instinct, and that’s what your’s is too. You want to protect your children, it’s as simple as that. Mothers can’t really help it. It comes from inside, and it’s uncontrollable. A mother would do anything to protect her child, even give up her own life. It’s inherent.

    As for why you don’t worry about your daughter while she’s in college, I can’t say anything about that because my mother worries about me wherever I am. If I went to Antarctica, she’d worry about me being eaten by penguins or something. But I love her. I guess you don’t worry so much while she’s in college because you don’t have her around to worry over. When she comes back home, you do have something to fuss over, so you begin worrying. :)

    Don’t ponder over it too much. Not all mothers are the same, but either way, all mothers are definitely spectacularly awesome. :D

    - Ashley

    • Ashley, I’m so glad you understand a mother’s need to fret and worry about their kids, no matter their age. I think the reason I don’t worry while she’s in college is the old adage, Out of sight, out of mind. She’s on her own and I have faith she’ll be ok. Though, I do get a little antsy if I text her and she doesn’t respond right away. ;) These things just go with the territory of being a mom, I guess.

      Glad to see, you’re catching up on some of my older posts. Now, that makes me happy! :)

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