Don’t worry be happy

5 Dec


I am my father’s daughter. I am a worrier. I am a worrier who has a constant and critical inner voice chastising my every poor decision and I am filled with regret.

Logically I know regret is useless. I know I am lucky. I know that every mistake I have ever made has been perfect because it has led me to the life I have now. Someone once told me that she has no regrets because if she’d done one thing differently she wouldn’t have ended up with her amazing children. I find all of these thoughts comforting for a moment and then my mind starts to sink into fear again. I wish I’d enjoyed my career more before I had kids. I wish I’d been more thankful. I wish I had kept in contact with more of my friends and colleagues. I wish I had been nicer to my step-children when they mucked up. I wish I had been stronger in my relationship. I wish I’d lived out of home before meeting my husband. I wish I’d traveled. I wish I’d been nicer to my parents. I wish I’d spent more time with my little brother when he still wanted to spend time with me. You see what I mean?

Now this tendency has translated into my view of myself as a mother. Every day I wish I’d done better. I wish I’d kissed my son goodbye more before school. I wish I’d been more patient when getting the kids dressed and ready for the school run. I wish I’d remembered to pick up a treat for his lunchbox. I wish I’d made a healthier dinner. I wish I stuck to our budget every week. I wish the house was cleaner. I wish I never yelled. I wish I never told them I was too busy to read to them or play with them.

I talk to my mum sometimes and she tells me what it was like for her when she was my age. She had it so much harder than me. I feel bad even complaining to her. Talking to my oldest sister is comforting because we can just blurt out all our stresses and there is momentary relief. We are in very similar places and have so many of the same problems. We try to help each other but there’s only so much we can do.

My husband gets very frustrated by the way my mind works. I don’t think he has any regrets…although I can suggest a few for him. He just doesn’t function with regrets and is always looking towards a bright and happy future. My breakthrough came when I was talking to my brother-in-law who is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

It was a few months ago and I was in a very bad place. I’d just lost all the jobs I had working from home and was faced with either having to leave my kids in day care to continue my career or give it all up and become a full-time mum. I had two car accidents in as many weeks – one in my sister’s car (so my brother-in-law’s car too) and one in my own driveway. The first one happened in heavy rain with all the big kids in the car. My little boy didn’t fit in the car we were in so he was in my mum’s car and they were following us. I glanced in my review mirror and noticed he was opening the back door while we were driving. We pulled over and locked the door but I was so freaked out and checking my review every minute that I hit the car in front of me. The following week I backed into my husband’s work truck in our driveway, at speed.

I was feeling my mortality and I was scared to drive. I had always been very accident-aware because I used to be a traffic reporter but it became almost crippling. My children have food allergies and I am always worried about that and I was struggling with the thought of my little boy starting pre-school the following year.

My brother-in-law was comforting me once again about the accident I had in his car. He and my sister were amazing and never expressed any anger or concern about the accident or about me continuing to drive their kids around. But I know he was a little worried about my sense of impending doom. It had always been there and then it became worse when I was younger and involved in an armed robbery, then got worse again with each child and as I get older it is becoming more crippling.

He always seems so relaxed and so happy. I asked him how it is that he never worries about such things. He said something along the lines of…hand your worries over to God. Just let them go. You can’t control them so you may as well let them go.

It was such a breakthrough. I am always worse at bedtime. I worry about my kids, my family, children I’ve read about in the news, the world…and now I just hand it all over to a higher power. Whether you call that power God or energy…it doesn’t matter. Each night just before I go to sleep I say, “Thank you for the day. Thank you for our health and happiness. Thank you for keeping my children safe. I hand our lives over to you. I hand my worries over to you. Give me the strength to keep them safe. Thank you for our lives.”

It’s like a magical sleeping pill and I drift off thinking happy thoughts. It doesn’t always work but it helps. Worrying and fretting doesn’t stop bad things from happening. All I can do is my best. When worry and fear starts to affect your life that’s when it becomes unhealthy. I really feel like I am healing in this regard. At this moment we are all happy, we are all healthy and I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job as a parent. There are things I want to work on and improve but I have tomorrow and every other day to work on it. Every moment and every day is a chance to do better and every night I give thanks and give myself credit for a job well done.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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