In perusing yahoo news, I came across an article about a study done of older Americans (aged 65+) and what they regretted most in their lives. The most common answer? Worry. Out of 1500 people, the most common regret was that they’d spent too much of their lives worrying.
You can read about the study here.
I found this to be particularly relevant because I notice more and more young adults riddled with anxiety, more and more middle aged adults suffering the side effects of stress, and more and more people turning to pharmaceuticals for relief.
Some worry is unavoidable. If you’re a parent, worry comes with the job. If you or a loved one is suffering an illness, make room for worry.
But kids? Really?
School is harder than ever. The things my kids learn about in high school were college subjects in my day. A friend was talking the other day about a five year old who didn’t want to go to kindergarten because she didn’t know how to read. In kindergarten! When I was in kindergarten, we learned to tie our shoes. And it was half-day.
Bottom line: life’s too short. Every day is a gift. If we spend too much time worrying about things that either don’t matter or can’t be changed, we are frittering away the gift of life.
So get off the computer. Go outside for a walk. Read a good book. Call a friend. Smile at a stranger. Live the gift, and have no regrets.
You’d think it would stop after the labor pains, or perhaps the teenage years, but I’ve discovered that no matter how old your children are, you always worry about them.
My youngest son’s hobby is restoring heavy duty equipment. Recently, while loading some caterpillar tracks to recycle at the local scrap yard, the tracks shifted and caught his index finger, tearing off the fingernail and a chunk of the end of his finger. And while it has healed nicely, I’ve still not recovered from the incident.
I worry, probably needlessly, but I’m his mother, and all I want is for my boys to be healthy and happy and unhurt.
The hero in my contemporary romance, Always Remember, worries about his daughter, too. The single dad of a 17 year old girl, he’s raised her the best he could, and still…
(Excerpt from Always Remember ~ After getting bucked off his horse, the heroine is giving Nate Coltrane a lower back massage when they’re interrupted by his daughter Sara…)
Along with the sound of her boots tromping across the floor, approaching the entryway, he caught the strain in her voice.
“I—oh, excuse me. I didn’t know you were busy.”
Nate raised his head from his folded arms. “Come on in. Jess was just giving me a massage, trying to fix my sore back.”
Right, and another two minutes, you would have been fixing her.
As if she’d heard his thoughts, Jessie scrambled off him, landed on her rear end, then leapt to her feet. Nate shifted slightly, enough to notice the flush that darkened her cheeks.
“We were finished anyway,” she explained in a breathless rush. “And I was just leaving.”
Right about now, Nate wished he could leave with her. As she ran from the room, the humor of the situation hit him. They’d been caught like two randy teenagers, only it was the daughter, not the parents, terminating their foreplay. Now, how did he go about hiding his aroused state from his perceptive daughter?
“So what’s up, squirt?” Other than me. Nonchalant, pretend like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Like his world hadn’t shifted and tilted for the second time since Jessie’s arrival.
Sara snatched the pile of mail from the coffee table and slid onto the floor beside him. “You didn’t tell me you hurt your back. Diablo? You know, I’ve been thinking. Maybe you need professional help.”
“You mean a shrink?” He reached out and ruffled her hair. Thanks to Jessie, his back did feel better, but now he had another ache he wished she’d stuck around to cure. Suddenly, the floor felt hard and uncomfortable. “Sara, Diablo and I have an agreement.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes I think I should’ve been in charge of you instead of the other way around.” She ducked out from under his hand and looked him square in the eye. “You realize, of course, that what you two were doing in here was totally unacceptable.”
Laughter burst from his chest.
“Well, I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”
No, she wasn’t a kid. She’d grown into a beautiful young woman, as mature and self-reliant as her mother. How had he gotten so lucky? She’d never given him a lick of trouble, not the way Jessie and him had tested their parents’ patience.
Sara sorted listlessly through the envelopes, tossing the bills aside before spreading her favorite magazine on the floor between them. Nate noted the pallor of her cheeks, the bluish smudges beneath her eyes. He wanted to ask her what was wrong, but feared the question would send her running up to her bedroom like last time.
Better that he be patient and wait for her to come to him. When she was ready to talk, she’d do it in her own good time.
He bumped her on the shoulder. “What are you reading?”
(End of excerpt)
So what kind of unfun and worrisome things have your children done? And how long did it take you to recover from the incident?
I worry about driving off a mountain cliff and crashing into the ravine below.
I worry about working in the gardens and being attacked by one of the large predators that wander through our yard.
I worry about dying slow and painful instead of dying fast and easy.
I worry about not seeing my siblings when my mom is gone.
I worry about my boys never finding a girl who’ll make them happy or finding one that makes them unhappy.
I worry about my tender new plants getting hit by Jack Frost.
I worry about getting old, gaining weight, going gray, and losing my eyebrows.
I worry I may never finish THIS BOOK or any more after.
I worry about the icy winter roads and the people driving on them.
I worry about the farmers getting too much rain during their spring planting and then again, during their fall harvest.
I worry about the planes passing overhead crashing into my backyard.
I worry about the crickets and frogs in the pond finding their way into my house and <shudder> into my bed.
I worry about leaving behind my computer and iPad and iPhone, and not being connected to the world.
I worry endlessly, needlessly, about all things big and small.
Why am I not crazy yet or is that still to come? Or are writers naturally worrisome people?
What do you worry about and how do you keep the craziness at bay?