Worried Little People

Worried Little People – or WLPs — have historically caused me much hilarity (& mocking superiority). You know the ones -the shaky, jumpy, nervous, skyisfalling li’l angels that suspect that doom and gloom are around every corner? Loveable though they may occasionally be (especially when one wants to feel zen and calm and glasslike), I have never EVER wanted to be one.

The parental counterpart to the WLP is of course the WLM (Worried Little Mom) and I SURE as hell don’t want be her. I don’t want to prepare vegan meals, homeschool, give my children only wooden toys, and teach them Spanish by age 3. And yet despite this determination to be calm and collected, I am occasionally gripped by an apocalyptic parental panic, the antidote to which is usually a cocktail of cool mommy complaint about The Things Kids Do to Drive Us Crazy mixed with Funny Things Husbands Do To Help Raise the Kids. In short, I survive by distancing myself from the overwhelming terror of raising these three children.

I go to work, I clean the house, I play around with them after work, I clean the house, I make them food, we run around screaming like maniacs, they go to bed. That’s how the day usually goes (plus or minus 8-10 time-outs, tantrums, and hitting–theirs, not mine).

But sometimes it sinks in. I am the Mother now. The. Mother. The beginning and the end of each day. And I worry… worry… worry… What if I’m not enough? What if what I give ends up causing them pain and sorrow? What if I can’t protect them from what lies ahead?

Driving into work this morning, I dug deep to try and find the resolve to be a better, stronger person, for them. And I meant it.

Yet when I got home, I was so exhausted and they were so happy to see me, and dinner was cereal (again) and my resolve flitted away like my promise to exercise after Violet was 3 months old (she’s now 22 months).

I have no doubt I would lay down my life for any of my children, but today I wonder if I’d lay down something more banal? Swear words? Wine glasses? Would I give up bad habits in order to be a better role model?

Goddess of WLMs, I hope so.


15 Responses to “Worried Little People”

  1. December 13, 2006 at 12:49 am

    Great post. I totally worry that I’ll screw my kids up too. I guess that’s why my tag line is what it is (here’s hoping my kids won’t need therapy). I mean, I really do hope that. And most days, I’m not so sure they won’t.

    But in the end, I guess we’re doing the best we can, right. Even when it’s really hard to give up the swear words. And it IS really hard (for me at least). But I still try. And that’s what counts.

    p.s. love the new digs here. this is the first time i’ve seen your new site!

  2. December 13, 2006 at 7:47 am

    I’ve worried about work/life balance issues, but I can’t say I have these “Apocalyptic” anxieties, and it makes me feel like maybe there’s something wrong with me. I know there are plenty of things to be terrified about with parenthood, but the majority of them are out of our control, so I try to minimize risk, do my best, and enjoy the hell out of them (when I’m not completely exhausted.)

    As for my bad habits, I’m hoping my children will see them as aspects of “character.” I don’t expect them to be squeaky clean, and they aren’t going to see it from me either.

    And my son has started the quarter jar for my swear words. The kids are making BANK!

  3. December 13, 2006 at 8:25 am


    My parenting fears drove me into therapy after I had my first. I didn’t exactly have the best of role models. Thankfully, my therapist pointed out that being AWARE of the fact that I wanted to be a good parent was half the battle. She also let me know that I would make mistakes. And my kids would not be screwed up because of them, but could learn from them.

    Oh, and I’m not going to be able to give up the swearing, drinking, and cereal for dinner anytime soon. I’ve already come to that conclusion. Maybe when both of them can wipe their own butts and/or help with dinner.

    Nah, fuck that. 😉

  4. December 13, 2006 at 8:44 am

    I have ocassional moments of total fear and then I stomp them back down into my subconscious until the next time I do something totally boneheaded, like talk about whether our neighbor had a sex change operation IN FRONT OF THE TODDLER WHO REPEATS EVERYTHING! Whoops. I’ll try to refrain from that. But swearing. Geesh, I don’t know that I can stop that!

  5. December 13, 2006 at 8:53 am

    Oh cannot wait for the Tantrums sigh! I haven;t had cereal for dinner in years! That’s cool that you can work and do all that at night…it’s tough isnt it?Bad habits I dont have now…(I DON”T THINK But does drinking ou of a fruit juice carton one?)

  6. December 13, 2006 at 9:37 am

    I know what you mean, CM. I worry about whether I’m giving R. enough of what she needs a lot. But I also struggle with where the line is — the one which, if I crossed, I would totally lose myself. I’m not sure where that line is today, but I know I’ve crossed it in the past, when I felt as though I had morphed into some odd mother-creature, and was no longer anything but.

    I’ve resolved myself to the fact that, on some level, R. will be screwed up, just like the rest of us are. Is there any way to avoid it? But I refrain from forcing her to take violin lessons, I let her watch TV, I let her play make-up instead of “educational” ones, and I am hoping for the best.

  7. December 13, 2006 at 9:47 am

    Just to clarify, I may not worry about all this stuff, but I don’t want to convey the impression that I am all “zen.” Quite the contrary: I am a 38-week pregnant woman who has NO patience left, as my children will attest.

  8. December 13, 2006 at 11:14 am

    I still worry, but it is far more controlled then it was when my son was an infant. I realized I was becoming a tired old nag, and that did not work for me.

    Curse words and wine glasses are as necessary for me to parent as Desitin and sippy cups. I just do the best I reasonably can, and when fall out of balance in either direction (benign neglect or hover-mothering), I try and correct myself.

    I read an interesting thought in the book “Sacrificial Mothers” last week. Paraphrased, it basically stated that no matter how hard we try to be a perfect parent, it is not going to prevent our kids from laying around with their friends some day, bitching about how annoying, terrible and evil their mothers were.

  9. December 13, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    Of course you can protect them from what lies ahead. All you need is bubble wrap, a closet and some feeding tubes.

  10. December 14, 2006 at 5:43 am


    I think you are going to be just fine. Relax. Breathe. Let life happen.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, having found it via PunditMom (blame or thank her as you will), and one thing is quite clear: You are an intelligent, thinking, capable woman. As such, you are going to be fine… and your children are going to turn out just fine as well.

    Believe it or not, dads suffer from this as well… but I counter these feelings by being a good example of a man (I have a daughter), and being fully participatory as a parent.

    All will be well, pal.

  11. December 14, 2006 at 8:13 am

    Just found your site through karrie. Love it!

    Growing up, I never envied the “perfect” families or the really dysfunctional ones. I liked the families in the middle. The families where kids could talk to their parents and be heard, but the parents were still in control. The families that were just real, not crazy caracatures. That’s what I am going for. We’ll see in 20 years how that works for me.

  12. December 14, 2006 at 11:11 am

    Sounds like any family to me. My wife and I freak out all the time because no matter how much we try, it never seems like we’re doing enough.

  13. December 15, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    Yup, sounds like my family too.

    I worry all the time about if I’m doing enough for my autistic son and my year-old daughter.

  14. 14 mama featheren
    December 16, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    I vacillate between thinking I may influence my baby girl in some bad way and then (defensively) thinking…how bad could my influence possibly be? I make my own baby food – only to worry about whether or not it’s organic. I worry about her sticking weird stuff in her mouth – though I can’t remember the last time I swept her bedroom floor…but when I look at her, she’s so pink and pretty and happy, I think SOMEBODY, SOMEHOW must be doing SOMETHING right!

  15. December 19, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    Love the new site!

    I think that fact that we worry at all means we’re going to do okay. It’s the people that you know don’t worry at all – those are the ones producing the nutjob kids from hell.

    I think we’re doing alright. But I’ll probably worry about it anyway, too.

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