The Worry Touch
Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, “It’s their life,” and feel nothing?
When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my daughter’s head. I asked, “When do you stop worrying? The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage.” My Dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.
When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher said, “Don’t worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them.” My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.
When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, “They’re trying to find themselves. Don’t worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They’ll be adults.” My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.
By the time I was 50, I was sick and tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. My Dad just smiled faintly and said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments.
My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my Dad’s warm smile and his occasional, “You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?”
Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse, or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?
An interesting thing happened the other day. I got a call from one of my children. They were quite upset. They said to me, “Where have you been? I’ve been calling for 3 days, and no one answered. I was worried sick about you.” I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed.
If you are reading this, it is likely because you are carrying the Worry Torch for a parent or loved one. We can help you not to worry and fill the gaps when you cannot be there. We can be there so your family does not worry and we can help keep your mom, dad, grandparent or other loved one independent and in control of their life. Help is just a phone call away.