Do you ever stop worrying about your children?

dan and miaDo you ever stop worrying about your children? I don’t mean the everyday worry. The ‘will they grow up to be kind individuals’, or  ‘will they live on chocolate and fizzy drinks for the rest of their life’ kind of worry.
I mean that deep, bone-fizzing worry that painfully grips at your very soul and makes you feel like you cannot function.
The worry that I suppose you can call irrational, but as a parent it feels like the most rational thing in the world.

It’s definitely there when they are babies. So small, so reliant, so vulnerable.
But what about when they’re more independent? At school? At uni?

Even now I still check on both of my kids every night before I go to bed; creep into their rooms one by one and say my silent goodnights.
They’re buried right under the covers so I rearrange the duvet to make sure they’re comfortable. But I’m not really concerned about their comfort, I’m waiting for them to shift in their sleep; give a little murmur and reassure me that, yes, all is well.
And it’s not even as if they are babies any more. My oldest is 12, yet still I feel the cold grip of worry every now and again.
And when I’m away? If I can’t do that nightly check? Husband will think I’m mad if I ask him.

Trust me, I’m not a worrier. And I’m not a ‘wrap my kids in cotton wool’ mum either. Far from it. I want them to fly, to find their independence, strike out, discover the world become their own person. I make sure they are confident enough to approach adults at school instead of asking me to do everything for them. I’m teaching them to be self sufficient and not dependent on someone to help with the smallest thing.
So why do I worry? Why do I still want reassurances? I still have to leave a crack in the door when I go to bed so there isn’t a physical barrier between me and them while they sleep. As I write it, it sounds ridiculous, but I really don’t care. It keeps me happy.

When they were little I convinced myself that if I could just get them to school the worry would abate. If I could get them through the pre-teens all would be well.
I can honestly, hand on heart say, having little ones was a walk in the park. Any problem could easily be fixed with a biscuit and a cuddle. Home was a haven; I could fix everything.
Now there is school and difficult friendships and feelings and heartache and exams and disappointments – real things that matter.
You watch them go through difficult times knowing that you’re not supposed to be there to fix them, but to give them the tools to deal with these things themselves. And it’s bloody hard and you ask yourself is it enough; should I be doing something else, something more?

Does that kind of worry ever stop?

I know the answer is no. My mother in law once said to me “my boy is 40 and married with two kids of his own and I still worry about him. It’s what parents do. It’s what we sign up for.”

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25 Responses to Do you ever stop worrying about your children?

  1. MummyWrites says:

    A lovely post Tara. It’s true of course that we never stop worrying. But I don’t think worrying is the right word, it’s more ‘thinking about’ especially as they get older. I used to worry about the usual things and after Abi died I realised it was pointless. My worrying didn’t change her end of life one bit. I’m like you. I want my children to be free. I don’t want to be trapped by worry. But I like to think I can put my feelings aside to enable them to live their own lives (my MIL still parents her three 40-year-olds and it’s caused no end of rows).
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  2. Iota says:

    I know that even when I’m an old woman, if there’s a knock on the door and I open it to a policeman, my first thought won’t be “what’s happened?”, but “which one?”

    I wonder if we need more words for “worry”. The vocabulary seems rather limited here (as MummyWrites says too). I worry about my children getting the right nutrients, but there’s a bit of me that is looking forward, just a little, to when they are flown the nest, and that’s their concern, not mine. I will have done the best I can, and then it’s up to them if they eat junk food or greens. Similarly, I’ve tried my best to educate them about sunscreen, but if they go off on holiday and get burnt, then that’s their responsibility. I do think you change as a mother, as the years go on. I wouldn’t have written this comment a few years ago, I really wouldn’t. My oldest is 17, and a year off uni. It’s not that I am forcing myself to change (“Come on, come on, you’ve got to let go”). It’s that my feelings are changing naturally with each little nudge (“Oh, so he gave in his provisional UCAS choices without showing them to me… well… ok… he’s growing up… we can talk about them another day…”) I haven’t put that very well. I suppose I feel you do grow as your child grows, and it’s important to do so, because as MummyWrites says, you’ve got to let them live their own lives.
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    • Tara Cain says:

      Thanks so much for this comment Iota. You’re right we do change as they get older. I know I see myself ‘allowing’ them to do things now I always said I never would. I guess because I could never imagine myself and them being at the period of time we’re in now. It’s so very different when they are younger; when they start becoming more independent you’re absolutely right, it’s important to let go and let them fly. It’s tough, but you know it’s the best way
      Tara Cain recently posted…Do you ever stop worrying about your children?My Profile

      • Iota says:

        I also think it’s important not to worry about them too much, because that implies to them that you think they can’t cope, or won’t be ok. And you’ve just spent all those years trying to bring them up to cope, and be ok!
        Iota recently posted…TimeMy Profile

  3. Mwa says:

    No. It doesn’t change, does it? My oldest is about to start cycling places on his own, and I dread it. Absolutely dread it.
    Mwa recently posted…TantrumMy Profile

  4. Nickie says:

    The short answer is “no”. I still check on my 15 year old before I go to bed at night and I have a “routine” with my 21 year old which involves how far open a door is so that I know if he’s left for work on time (he has an early shift some weeks) and/or if he’s home from a night out with friends. Also, my daughter has two children of her own and I worry about her constantly, even phoning or texting to ensure she’s OK. It’s part of our job as parents.

  5. Cerys says:

    Who is going to rummage around in Robb’s bed for his socks when I’m not there?! And Alf HAS to mix his cereals… 😉

    I can’t sleep unless I’ve checked in on them in their rooms. I think we are at the same place as parents, Robb and Dan are the same age, soo…anything you hear/learn on this, will you let me know and vice versa?! xxxx
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  6. Helen says:

    It’s so so hard, this parenting gig, isn’t it? All I can say – and this is what keeps me sane (occasionally) – is that as the worries get bigger, you tend to worry much less about the things that bothered you before. I used to check the windows were shut every night, as we have a flat roof outside the bedroom windows. Since my daughter was diagnosed with a serious medical condition, I can’t tell you the last time I did that. In fact I laugh at my old self now, when I realise how much I sweated the small stuff. If anything, type 1 diabetes, and all the daily risks that involves, has made me a much braver parent. She is likely to walk to school alone well before I was planning on it originally, because it’s taught me quite how responsible she is, and shown me that in many ways she can totally take care of herself.

    Of course, if she doesn’t text me every 5 minutes I’ll be banging down the school doors in no time! 😉

    • Tara Cain says:

      This is a fabulous comment Helen, and kind of reflects what Mummy Writes said. It’s almost like I’m ‘creating’ things to worry about because I don’t have any which is utterly ridiculous but still. Am really going to take onboard what you’ve said x
      Tara Cain recently posted…Banana and peanut butter smoothieMy Profile

      • Helen says:

        Ah it’s hard though. We’re naturally conditioned to worry and it’s a daily struggle not to. Mummy Writes is right though – worrying is what ales us protect our kids, so it’s good, but there comes a point when it won’t help. Easy to say though – harder to pay attention to 🙂
        Helen recently posted…How to Rock the Period TalkMy Profile

  7. Oh Tara I agree with you. As they grow up, the worry and pain over things has become even more intense. We are going through a tough time at the moment and the only thing that has got me through it has been my faith. I truly believe that God has them in the palm of his hand. I HAVE to believe that or I would probably crack up! Us parents need to stick together, it’s a tough gig, that’s for sure. x x
    suzanne3childrenandit recently posted…Do We Really Hate Mother-In-Laws?My Profile

    • Tara Cain says:

      We really do Suzanne. I just wish someone had warned me how much tougher it is when they are older because I had always thought once the baby years, the needy years, the watching them ALL THE TIME years were over, it would be a walk in the park!
      Tara Cain recently posted…Banana and peanut butter smoothieMy Profile

  8. All so true, and as the mother of two little ones, I know I have far more worries to come. My daughter started school in September, and that’s when the worries grow, as they’re not in your care 24/7 for you to scoop them up and take them away from anything they don’t like. I know this is just going to increase year on year, and even though I know she’s happy there, it’ll just get tougher, won’t it? But as your mother-in-law says, it’s what we sign up for x
    The Reading Residence recently posted…Word of the Week 22/5/15My Profile

  9. It never stops. I was talking to a friend of mine recently, she has two adult children, and she said you NEVER stop worrying. Even now she worries about her daughter who is a teacher and lives with her husband. Her son, who is at university, she says she worries when he says he’s going to the pub. I guess the thing is, like your mother-in-law said, it’s what you sign up for. xx
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  10. I totally get where you’re coming from with this! I still check my kids last thing at night (even if I’ve only been up 15 minutes earlier to shout at them to please go to sleep) and, like you, I have to listen for breathing or see movement! On the whole I am fairly chilled when they’re away, but I’ll still go back to checking them when they come home!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…First ParkrunMy Profile

  11. My son is only 15weeks old and im already worrying about him in the future! I think from early on in pregnancy you start wondering what ifs. Maybe we worry so much because we are aware of the dangers of pretty much everything.
    Thismummylark recently posted…Far from amused! Nursery relatedMy Profile

    • Tara Cain says:

      I have to say it does lessen as they get older because they become more independent and it’s really lovely to see them stretch their wings and do stuff for themselves. My son went to Paris with school last year and I spent the whole time he was there ‘thinking’ about him. Not worrying. No no no, not worrying. Just mild concern 🙂
      Tara Cain recently posted…The Photo Gallery 232: MacroMy Profile

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