I don't know how we got onto the topic of worrying, but I found myself discussing how parents worry about their children with William this morning.
We were driving home from the dentist office, and he was chattering on about Harry Potter (as usual) and asking a billion questions that I refused to answer on the grounds that 1) he needs to read the books in order and find out for himself and 2) I refuse to spoil it for him. And somehow, I was telling him that parents always worry about their kids, even when they're grown up.
William was mystified by this. He wanted to know why. I told him that I couldn't really explain why, except that parents love their children and want them to be healthy, happy and safe, so they worry about them not achieving those things. William might be perfectly safe when he's at school, for example, but part of me still worries about him.
And I found myself uttering something I never really thought I'd say.
"You'll understand when you're a parent one day," I said.
Mom? Is that you?
Really. It was her voice coming out of my mouth. Or maybe it was my dad's voice. Either way, it was like aliens took over my body and began controlling my speech. That happens a lot these days, I've noticed. I open my mouth, and rather than saying something of my own, I parrot something that my mom used to say to me. Eerie how that happens.
In fact, the other day, I chuckled over a cartoon in the paper and had to call my mom to share. (The cartoon was Zits, in case any of you are fans.) The teenaged boy says, in disbelief to his mom, something like, "So you want me to text you every time I go somewhere, even if it makes me look like a dork?" And the mom says, happily, "Yep! Thanks!" I don't even have a teenager, and yet, I totally got it. I'll be that mom in about ten years. Mom texted me back to say, "Ah yes! You just wait!"
The funny thing is that I was totally prepared to worry about my young children--I just didn't really understand that it would keep going on forever and ever amen. All new parents worry. We worry about our babies being born healthy. We worry about whether the baby is still breathing when he's alone in his crib and hasn't cried in a long time. We worry when the baby hasn't had a messy diaper in what seems like too long (can there really be a too long?). We worry about our babies hitting all the milestones on time. So yes, I worry about Andrew. But I still worry about William. In fact, I might worry even more about him now than I used to. And now I know that I will continue to do so for as long as he lives. The specific things that I will worry about will undoubtedly change. But the big ones--health, happiness and safety--will remain constant.
In fact, I even worry about my own parents a lot more these days. It's ridiculous. I admonish them to call me when they're on the road and let me know when they get safely to their destination. I may, er, even have been known to call or text and badger them until I get a satisfactory response. And um, I may even pester my husband to do the same with his parents ("Did you call Diane and Aaron yet? Did they make it to their hotel yet? Is their car doing okay? Are they all right?").
The irony. Yes, yes.