Mom Anxiety: Probable vs. Potential
Written by: Kim Antisdel
Sometimes I feel like I should sign into my Linkedin account and change my job title to “Worrier Extraordinaire.” It’s not something I’m proud of because I swear I used to be relatively sane in this department. Sure, I avoided escalator handles (mostly because I can literally see the dried snot on them) and I would be overly cautious when standing near train tracks, but on the whole, I was what I would consider “normal”.
But then I birthed my son. And Pandora’s Box of Sheer and Complete Paranoia broke open.
First, where did all the rusty nails come from? At the playground, in parking lots, on mall benches - have they always been there? Did I just never notice before having a kid because I was too busy relishing my piping hot latte? (Incidentally, I don’t even know what hot coffee tastes like anymore.) Everywhere I look a rusty nail is baring it’s gross, blood-reddish, pointy head, tempting my son to come and stab himself with it. WHY IS NO ONE PICKING UP THESE NAILS AND THROWING THEM AWAY?
Also, spiders. Is it just me or do they all look like brown recluses? Look, my sister played the violin so I’m an expert on what a violin looks like and hand to God, every spider in our house has a fiddle on its back. So I’m dealing with potentially deadly arachnids attacking my son, too.
Every now and again my husband will see me chewing through whatever fingernails I have left and ask what’s bothering me. The safest answer is, “Nothing, I’m just thinking”, because I know the truth will have him Googling how do you commit someone to an insane asylum. But the other day, I decided I would answer honestly.
“Well,” I said carefully. “I was thinking that earlier today I put Buddy in the grocery cart at the store, and I didn’t wipe it down with those disinfectant wipes first.”
“Okay,” he replied. “And?”
“And so I’m wondering if he was exposed to anything that could, I don’t know, put him in the hospital for the rest of his life?”
My husband looked at me like I was a not-too-distant cousin of Howard Hughes (you know, the crazy hypochondriac dude) and said, “Babe, our son has had his shots.”
Okay, let me explain something here.
I know my son has had his shots. I know that whatever is on the grocery cart handle is probably not going to hurt him. But I’m not concerned with probably. As a mom, I’m worried about potentially.
Is it probable that the somewhat strange looking man at Target is targeting my child for sex trafficking? No. Is there a potential that he is planning to snatch my son from my very arms and throw him in an unmarked van with bad carpeting and blacked out windows? Damn Skippy. And so all the worrying.
Is it probable that my son will fall down the stairs head first and break every bone on the way down? No. He’s been trained to be careful, take his time, and be safe. But the potential - it’s always there.
I don’t have a solution for this worrying thing, so if you were hoping for one, better luck next time. This is something that I simply must manage. Day over day, year over year, as my son gets older (and way better at walking), I think the constant worry will subside a bit. At the very least, I think it will shift away from the hundreds of little concerns to larger, more preventative issues, like teaching my son to be kind and report bullies to an adult. For now, I try and stay focused on what I can control (applying sunscreen, buying sturdy shoes to prevent tripping, babysitters I trust) and hope the potential for true danger never comes to fruition.
Until then…I’ll be the mom at the PTA meetings with no fingernails. Try not to judge me.
Kim Antisdel is a Kansas City writer, interior designer and sales rep. She's also a total know-it-all. Her favorite place to write is curled up on the sofa with her small zoo of rescue animals. She currently lives in Liberty with her husband, two stepdaughters and son.