Sunday, May 5, 2013

The one big worry

I'm a bit of a worrier.

I try not to be. I tell myself I am just being organised and planning for the future, making sure that if things all go pear-shaped I have a plan ready to go. Sometimes that's true.

But mostly I am just a bit of a worrier.

I can usually talk myself out of a worry session pretty easily. I just go through the situation I am worrying about and remind myself of how simple it would be to deal with. I have found this works better than telling myself not to worry because it wouldn't happen. All trying to convince myself my worry won't happen does is get me stuck in a circle of thought that goes something like
....  Somehow having a strategy makes me feel OK again, and I can think about something else.

There is, however, one worry that I can't shift. The strategy method doesn't work. I can't convince myself it is not possible. I tell myself I will just have to do my best and hope it works. But I still worry.

What if, despite my best intentions, I am making a complete mess of raising my kids?

I'm trying hard here. I'm doing what I think is my best. But I am very aware that intent to do right doesn't always mean actually getting it right. And, to be honest, I am actually always making it up as I go.

I don't really know if what I am doing to support my Autistic kids is the right thing to do. I am not Autistic myself, so I don't really know what life is like for them. What if I am making mistake after mistake and they will tell me later that they resent the control I had over their lives?

I don't know at all what it is like to be Bipolar. What if the things I say to encourage are just making things more confusing and inducing anxiety?

What if, in all my efforts to advocate for my kids who have disabilities, I am causing my other kids to feel overlooked and less loved? Are they going to tell me later that they felt unimportant?

Please, don't respond by telling me that you are sure I'm doing fine. I'm not looking for reassurance or compliments here. 

I know that the kids seem happy and pretty well adjusted. Outward appearances indicate that I don't need to worry about this.

I know that it's OK to make some mistakes, that it's inevitable and I just have to do my best. I get that.

I know that I just need to do my best with the information I have at the time and then live with the consequences. That no one can expect more of a person than that. I tell people that all the time. 

But I still worry about this. And I will worry about it. Probably forever. 

The thing is, I'm actually OK with worrying about it. 

Worrying about making a mess of parenting is what motivates me to keep learning, to ask questions, to seek advice and to get help from people more experienced than me. It's what made me swallow my pride and find an excellent psychologist to help me be confident to try new things and keep an open mind about what is important and worth putting effort into. It's what sends me into regular periods of self reflection that result in me changing the way I do things when I feel pushed to my limits. It's what causes me to make time to rest when I feel stressed so that I can keep a clear head as I make tough decisions. 

In this instance my worrying serves a good purpose. And, unlike the worry about what I'd need to do if a solar flare wiped out all our electrical devices, this worry serves my family well too because it works to help keep me in a state of mind that is conducive to self improvement. I make a conscious decision to keep learning, keep trying to do better, keep pushing through the hard stuff. 

I'll probably still find myself looking into at least one of my children's eyes later in life and apologising for stuffing up. But at least this worry has me making a plan for that, too.

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