When I moved a million miles from my mom and dad, I was 24 and had never been away from them for more than a few months at a time. When my new husband and I arrived at our fancy motel after a day of driving through cornfields, I knew I had to call my parents to let them know we had arrived at our first stop. When my mom answered, her relief was visceral.
“I worry,” she said.
I rolled my eyes through decades of this. But now? Now that my babies are not so much babies but nearly full-fledged humans, I know this worry more than I ever expected.
I worry they’re not doing homework well. That they’re engaging with peers and friends well. I worry that they know how to perform a proper handshake (web to web with eye contact, BTW). I worry that they’re active, that they eat well, that they have clean clothes and healthy food. I worry about the length of their hair and the length of their shirts. I worry.
I am a professional worrier.
But of course, those are the lipsticks and the eye shadow of the worry. The foundation is: I want them to have good, productive, happy lives. I want them to grow into two they are. To find their people. To love well and much.
And? I can’t actually make that happen. I am not in charge of the world or even a corner of it. I can’t make doors open. I can’t make people love them. I can’t even make my children wear skirts to church, so agreeing on what’s fashionable is out of the question. I can’t bend coaches and teachers to my will. I can’t create more time. I can’t soften every blow, or even know about every blow.
And that’s the thing about being a mom. I’m never, ever not a mom. Last night, I picked up two kids from school, ran home, changed clothes, got two kids ready for class, got another started on homework and a third getting prepped for a game. I thought I might have an hour to do a track workout. While everyone was for one minute at all the things. Joke’s on me. I was getting texts before I finished my warm up.
MY intervals were such: run 400 meters, take a phone call. Run 400 meters, answer four texts. Run 400 meters, check the time. Run 400 meters, get back in the car for round two.
I don’t mean that they interrupted my workout. I mean that even while I ran, or tried to run, my skin, my cells, my thoughts were preoccupied with them, these people who wormed into my heart in ways that are as inexplicable as they are inextricable. And I don’t mind. I don’t.
Being a mom is hard. And I carry their every triumph and defeat. And I worry. And I pray. And I wait for their phone calls.