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Why I Can't Stop Worrying About My Kids

I've always been a bit of a worrier. It's probably genetic, because I come from a long line of worriers, but I never thought I was all that bad...and then I had kids.

Apparently there's something about having kids that flips a switch inside one's brain and magically activates that dormant worry gene. Because it happened and I've become all kinds of ridiculous.

It probably doesn't help that spending time on the Internet is part of my job. I'll often find myself clicking on links and falling down a wormhole where before I know it I'm completely convinced one of my children is dying from some terminal disease or another. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but seriously, it's a problem.

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Today I was researching autism for an article I was writing and after awhile I found myself on Youtube searching for "12 month old with autism" for a visual reference so I could see if any of my own 12-month-old's behaviors were being mirrored. A few weeks ago, I self-diagnosed my daughter with leukemia after noticing a strange, recurring rash and constant bruises on her legs. A series of tests proved that once again Google led me astray. I'm pretty sure I'm driving my husband (and my poor friends via text) crazy with all my self-diagnoses at this point.

Pain is something that just comes with the territory of life and I need to work on living it without worry (or at least quite so much of it) and letting my kids live it too.

Aside from health-related minutiae, I find myself worrying about a laundry list of other things that don't really matter. I worry about germs and healthy nutrition and whether or not my daughter is learning her letters and numbers early enough. I worry about sending my kids to school one day and about them feeling rejection from their peers and about whether or not they're going to hate me one day. I spend far too much time worrying on a daily basis and it's causing me a lot of stress. I've officially become President of The "Worry of the Month" club, but the problem is I don't actually want the position.

I want to be a fun, lighthearted, carefree mom. I want to be that mom that doesn't break into hives over the fact that her kid just licked the credit card machine at Target and GERMS. I want to be the mom that let's her kids try out the climbing wall without freaking out about potential casts. I want to be the mom who doesn't feel the need to helicopter during peer interactions to make sure that her kid isn't being the "mean girl". I am so not that mom, but I really want to be her.

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I think to some extent worrying is just part of my personality. A Type-A who appreciates order is bound to find anxiety in the unknown, but at some point I have to let go and realize that I can't control everything. I can't bubble wrap my children from every germ or painful experience. Pain is something that just comes with the territory of life and I need to work on living it without worry (or at least quite so much of it) and letting my kids live it too.

Here's to works in progress and a little less worry.

Photo via Twenty20/Heidi

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