For the Worried Mom & the Anxious at Heart
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34
Shortly after losing my sweet friend to cancer, I gave birth to an incredible baby boy. Matthew is a complete joy. He is full of bright smiles, giggly laughs and personality. He melts my heart and makes me wish I could freeze the clock a hundred times each day. So much of my heart is wrapped up in this tiny being.
Receiving this precious bundle of new life right on the heels of witnessing death has been a constant reminder that every moment is a gift.
But with that also comes an acute awareness of the fragility of life. Nothing on Earth is guaranteed.
Two days after Matthew’s birth, while we were preparing to leave the hospital, our sweet baby started choking in his sleep. Nurses rushed over to help him catch his breath and tears spilled over my worried eyes. Thankfully, the choking subsided and he only had to spend 24 hours hooked up to monitors in the nursery before we were able to take him home (turns out he just chokes easily on his reflux). But it was in that moment—watching my baby struggle for air—that I felt panic strip away my own ability to breathe deeply.
For the next two months, I felt like I was holding on for dear life—terrified to let go, breathe and “just be.” The tiniest love of my life was depending on me 24/7. His dad was away with the Air Force and, for better or worse, this sweet baby was stuck with me to take care of his every need.
My anxiety hit an all-time high.
But what if I mess up? What if I close my eyes for just a second and something horrible happens to him? What if he chokes & I’m not there to help him? What if I miss something important? What if he gets sick? What if I lose him too?
Never in my life had I felt so much love for someone so tiny. The fear of losing him felt constant, unrelenting, and all-consuming.
Two months later, we reunited with my husband at our new base.
Life has calmed down a bit and the fear has begun to ease. But I still have moments when that fear starts to take hold.
There are still times during each day when I find myself worrying about the endless list of possible dangers our son could face.
Sometimes those fears don’t seem too farfetched… choking, SIDS, dead bugs and other gunk on floor that he’s guaranteed to try eating one of these days…
Other times, I’m pretty sure I’ve passed the line of normal new-mom fears and crossed into the much dreaded helicopter parent zone, or even worse, the freaked-out-crazy-neurotic-mom that makes helicopter parents seem mild. Unable to sleep at night, I’ll catch myself worrying about fires, brain eating amoebas (the kid can’t even walk yet, let alone swim underwater in a lake), dry drowning, cancer, criminals, storms , wars, car accidents… and, good gracious, the list keeps going.
But whether the fears are “normal” or a little on the crazy side, the underlying issue is the same—control. Never in my life have I felt the need to control every possible danger like I do now that I’m a mother.
But here’s the thing…
No matter how hard I try to protect Matthew and no matter how responsible I try to be at parenting, I will never be able to control everything. Injuries, illness and heartache are all guaranteed to come in and out of his life. There will always be dangers lurking in the shadows and, despite my best attempts, I will not always be able to see them coming in time to intervene.
Furthermore, no matter how hard I try, I still will never be a perfect parent. I will make mistakes, many mistakes. And that’s okay, because let’s be honest…
I will never be able to supply all of my son’s needs. There will always be a need in his life for someone infinitely better than me.
Thankfully, that Someone actually is in control over everything. Not only that, but He loves my son with a love that is more perfect, more complete and more powerful than anything in this world.
“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!” Psalm 139:15-18
It’s okay that I’ll never be a perfect parent, because our heavenly Father is the only who can fill that role.
And so enters my daily need to choose faith over fear.
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.” Psalm 91:4-8
We decided to name our son Matthew because it means gift from God. The gift of his life brings me more joy than I can put into words and I will do everything in my power to provide him with the best life possible.
But part of giving him the best life possible means letting go. Letting go of fear. Letting go of control.
The other part of Matthew’s name means unwavering defender.
I long for our son to grow into a man who stands confidently in his faith in God, holds his head high and does not waver when storms come his way.
Passing on an anxious spirit will not serve him. But passing on a spirit of peace, courage and faith will take him further than my protective momma arms could ever reach.
So when I feel myself grasping for control and fearing the worst, may I set my eyes on the One who actually is control, trust in His sovereignty, release my clinched fists and embrace the peace that comes from remembering His love will never end.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27