Worried Birds

By Beck

It was a snow day yesterday, which meant that my oldest child was home from school and that I declared a house-wide break from all schoolwork and THIS meant that I spent all day listening to my kids fight and by the end of the day I was making mental lists of other careers I might possibly consider. (“Spunky girl detective.”)

My Baby – who is, I must now always add, four years old and not anything like an actual baby – was sick earlier this week, with a high miserable fever and a hacking cough and she spent two nights sleeping feverishly and unsoundly beside me while I lay wide awake and worried. And now she is pretty much all better, but is still pale and pajama-clad and insisting upon extra attention and rest.

So today, I feel a bit frazzled. My youngest daughter is making construction paper candles and my son is making a woven paper heart basket and my head is making the noise that the greyed-out channels on your television set makes.

I think it’s pretty normal, if you’re the mother to more than one child, to have a specific child who takes up much of your worrying. Other children might briefly be the focus but then your worry goes flitting back like an anxious bird to your worrisome child again. And my worrisome child is – gee, no kidding? – my Baby, and sometimes I worry that my frightened focus on her blocks my view of my other children. So yesterday felt like just retribution, my other children forcing my eyes on them for the entire day – look at me, look at me, look at me.

Spunky girl detectives have it easy, I think – some wisecracks, the criminal unmasked and revealed at the end and everyone goes home and the book closes. Motherhood, though, seems to reveal the same thing over and over again – you will make the same mistake repeatedly, you will let your kids down, you will not notice enough that time is fleeting away, as fast as little birds, as fast as snow falling heavily in the sky.

13 Responses to Worried Birds
  1. bea
    December 10, 2009 | 4:52 pm

    I am definitely not an even-handed worrier – and I do feel guilty about it sometimes. It was kind of validating, then, when Pie’s kindergarten teacher, totally unprompted, looked at me during our interview last week and said, “I just don’t worry about Pie.” Neither do I.

  2. Nicole
    December 10, 2009 | 4:53 pm

    It’s so hard, isn’t it, stretching yourself between the kids. I once read this horrible parenting book in which the author said the only – ONLY – way to parent more than one child effectively is to give each child UNDIVIDED attention for at least 30 minutes a day. I slammed the book shut. At the time I had napless two and three year olds, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to do this – lock one in the room for 1/2 hour? We just all do the best we can and sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes they are repeated mistakes. Sometimes it is really disheartening but you have to know you are doing a good job, your children love you, and you love them.

  3. Omaha Mama
    December 10, 2009 | 6:17 pm

    The fleeting is getting me. I see my baby (now 3 1/2 and hardly a baby) growing too fast and it makes me think I need another baby, which is just a trick. Fleeting indeed.
    The great part is that as they grow, they become sturdier and more independent and each phase is more fun. It’s just hard not to miss the other phases you’ve already passed.
    And the sick child thing. Yes. It’s tough to see them sick, especially when you’ve lived through moments when they have been sicker, the sickest. It can take you right back.
    Hang in there, Christmas will be here soon and we can all be jollier.

  4. Kat
    December 10, 2009 | 7:04 pm

    So true, so true. I find myself repeating the same things over and over. “You’re too hard on them” “Let the little things go” “They grow too fast” etc.

  5. tracey
    December 10, 2009 | 7:44 pm

    Oh Beck. At least you know you aren’t alone in this issue. All mothers wonder and marvel at how quickly it goes and we all berate ourselves for not spending enough time staring lovingly into our children’s eyes and souls while they are still CHILDREN.

    Thus said, I am off to bore holes into my kids’ hearts. They should love it and will be running away screaming in mere moments…

  6. Heather
    December 11, 2009 | 2:41 am

    We all do what we can, right? Those of us who care are mothers and worry. If we didn’t worry, things would be very different.

  7. suburbancorrespondent
    December 11, 2009 | 9:24 am

    Amen. Sort of like the movie Groundhog’s Day, except we never get it right. Then they’re gone.

  8. Sue
    December 11, 2009 | 12:59 pm

    I worry about all of my kids, but you’re right. One usually attracts the most attention. Strangely, that ONE shifts on a regular basis. It seems (and has always seemed) that just when somebody gets it together and moves off my radar screen somebody else starts having issues and takes the empty spot.

    And in 33 years as a parent, my radar screen has never been blissfully empty. Never.


    PS. I do love the mom job though…even better than being a spunky girl detective. Though I must admit, that notion does have a certain charm.

  9. patois
    December 17, 2009 | 11:04 am

    Why can’t I learn to STOP making the same mistake over and over again? Nicely done.

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