An Instagram Diary of Anxiety

We all know there are things about becoming a parent that no one ever tells you about beforehand. Like even if you are successful at losing all your baby weight, and even a few extra pounds for good measure, your stomach will absolutely refuse to get the memo and continue to look at least three to four months pregnant.

But the thing I most wish I had known was that upon giving birth to my first child, I would also be delivering something else into my life: completely irrational anxiety. If you are a mother, you know what I am talking about. If you are a father, you’ve likely just rolled your eyes at me and silently (or not) called me crazy, because you also know what I’m talking about since your wife is probably the same way. This is how I have explained the phenomenon to my husband: “Let’s say we take the kids to a carnival. You see a hundred different ways you can have fun with the kids and evaluate which money-sucking games to avoid so you don’t spend a small fortune. I see hundreds of opportunities for child kidnappers and evaluate which rides my children would be most likely to die on.” It’s very simple really.

At first I thought maybe I was alone in my certifiable anxiety. Maybe at the very moment my motherly protective instincts kicked in, I was inadvertently drinking a Red Bull, resulting in an overprotective nature on steroids. But then I read Tina Fey’s brilliantly hysterical and absolutely truthful “A Mother’s Prayer for Her Daughter,” which made me feel normal when I came to this particular part:

“Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the nearby subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called ‘Hell Drop,’ ‘Tower of Torture,’ or ‘The Death Spiral Rock N’ Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,’ and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.”

Black River Lodge - You're Gonna Like it Here
The BRL Entrance Sign: “You’re Gonna Like It Here.” Am I? My anxiety doesn’t think so.

I guess the only bad thing about finally feeling normal was that I also then gave myself permission to continue to feel anxious about things I logically know I shouldn’t. Let’s take this past weekend for example. We took a little trip to a place called Black River Lodge with my husband’s family. In reality, it is a no-frills vacation spot along the Black River where families can spend time together and enjoy many activities and a summer camp-like experience. But seen with “Anxiety Vision,” it is a virtual cornucopia of catastrophe.

With that, I give you my Instagram Diary of Anxiety from Black River Lodge:

black riverReality: The Black River. The perfect place to fish, go tubing or canoeing, catch tadpoles, and make “hotels” out of the beach rocks for said tadpoles. Anxiety Vision: A quick-moving current just waiting to grab hold of my kids and take them away forever. Just looking at this picture, I am chastising myself for not having life-jackets on them even though we did not actually get IN the river this time.

black river lodge cabinReality: A cabin overlooking the scenic river. Anxiety Vision: How sturdy are those concrete stilts? Have you ever heard of mudslides, people? They happen in California all the time. If I’m not mistaken, the New Madrid fault is about due for a pretty sizable earthquake, and I’m not liking my odds if it happens while I’m sleeping in one of these things. Do you feel a slight tilt in this floor? We are going to wake up in the river. I just know it.

playground see-sawsReality: A centrally located playground where the kids can play while you can keep an eye on them from your cabin. Anxiety Vision: I’m pretty sure those are the same see-saws that were there when I was a kid. Have they repainted those things? Have they been tested for lead?

dart boardReality: A free-standing dart board. Darts are fun. Anxiety Vision: Who the hell puts a free-standing dart board right next to the tether ball pole and right outside the rec hall where my kids spend a good chunk of their time, roaming around? Don’t they realize how easy it would be for my kids to walk right in front of this board and end up with a dart in their brains? And if they do safely make it past the dart board, there is an archery target about ten steps away. An ARCHERY TARGET! At any point of the day, some middle schooler could be shooting arrows or throwing darts. Just think about that for a minute.

tractor rideReality: The “train” that takes kids on a little ride every night after dinner. Anxiety Vision: Do the sides of those cars meet any safety regulations? Because I’m pretty sure my son could and would jump right out of those while the thing is in motion. Or at the very least, fall out because of his inability to sit still. And what about that guy driving? Does he have a license to operate a tractor? How fast is he going to drive that thing? Isn’t that the same guy I just saw drive a golf cart into a tree? Because I think it is. Can I trade out that train whistle he’s blowing on for a breathalyzer?

children crossing signReality: A well-intentioned sign warning motorists to slow down because children cross this road in order to get to the “train” and the mini-golf course. Anxiety Vision: I don’t think that sign was visible to the guy with the mullet who just drove his four-wheeler past us at max speed. Maybe we could paint a cross walk on the gravel road? Perhaps install a small stoplight? Crossing guard? Call me crazy, but I just don’t want to risk my kids’ lives to hit a ball into a hippo’s mouth.

country cookingReality: Family style country cooking Anxiety Vision: A potential health crisis on a plate. Isn’t there a saying that you should eat the rainbow? Last I checked, brown and beige aren’t colors in the rainbow, and that’s about all that is here. So one of two things will happen. Either my husband or I will suffer a heart attack from eating this OR my kids will refuse to eat this and instead fill up only on the sugary dessert and candy from the rec hall resulting in diabetic coma. And we are in the middle of nowhere. Can someone tell me where the closest hospital is? Has anyone clocked exactly how long it takes an ambulance to respond to a medical emergency out here? Do you maybe just have a carrot in the kitchen I could munch on?

snakeReality: A harmless (and dead) garter snake. Anxiety Vision: THE PLACE IS INFESTED! WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE! (By the way, I am truly amazed that this picture even exists, based on how extremely horrified I am of snakes. This photo came about only because of camera zoom capabilities, cropping magic, and the fact that I was pretty sure it was already dead. Still, there was intense and prolific heebie-jeebie-ing as soon as the image was snapped.)

So there. I have just given you a glimpse into my truly disturbed mothering mind. I would like to think maybe my anxiety will mellow as the kids get older, but then I would just be fooling myself. I am anticipating the need for tranquilizers when they hit driving age.

To further quell my fears that Tina Fey and I are the only neurotic mothers out there, please feel free to share what your biggest anxieties are concerning your kids. Then we can bask in the crazy together.

35 thoughts on “An Instagram Diary of Anxiety

  1. Biggest Anxiety? Hmmm… Do I have to pick just one? Anything & everything makes me freak out. Lately it’s the stairs in our new house, which the children INSIST they must go up-and-down (what seems like) all the time; I’m absolutely convinced they are going to slip and break their sweet little necks. I’m just glad I’ve mellowed with my second kid — with the first, I was a complete and total wreck. You and Tina are definitely not the only “crazy” ones…


    1. Ugh! Steps!!! I had another photo of the steps down to the river, but decided not to post it. But I’m with you on that…especially since Michael has fallen down the stairs, um, THREE times now. I guess the only thing I can tell you to assuage your fears is that now I know from experience that kids aren’t as easy to break as I thought. That little limber body of his kept him pretty much injury free (that, and the fact that our steps and landing are carpeted). But it was scary every time it happened. And even now that he is getting older and better coordinated, I still fear it.


  2. Now that I have four adult kids and you are raising my grandkids, I gladly give you all my motherly anxiety. I have other things to think about now, like turning 65!!
    I know why I believe so in Guardian Angels!


    1. And you know your son contributes to that anxiety. Why didn’t you warn me????? I guess it’s fine if you want to pass that anxiety onto me, but just do me a favor. If you see any of our guardian angels slacking, put them back to work.


  3. This post hit home! I worry CONSTANTLY! And my husband is constantly rolling his eyes and telling me to “calm down.” I am always telling my girls to be careful of slamming their fingers in the van/truck doors. (I call it advising, my husband calls it nagging…) Guess what happened tonight…. the 4 year old slammed her fingers into the door….. see – my fears aren’t so stupid now – are they, husband…. 🙂


    1. VINDICATION!!! (And I’m glad the vindication came simply with some fingers getting slammed in the door and not something worse.) I love the “advising.” I might use that from now on!


  4. Parking lots and driveways. The thought of cars backing up and my child in proximity sends my anxiety into overdrive. Moving cars in general make me nervous – why did I pick a corner lot again??? And when the boys go fishing at the river or hiking anywhere. I’m convinced that we will be on the evening news. And finally, the moment when Matt is with the boys (like everyday in the summer) and he doesn’t answer the phone…instant paranoia.


    1. Yes…yes…yes…and yes! All very acceptable neuroses. You mentioned Matt not picking up the phone. Incidentally, that happened to me when Kurt and the kids were on their way DOWN to this trip I just blogged about. They went down on Friday evening, but I wasn’t coming until Saturday morning because of a previously scheduled engagement. Well, Friday was the night of hellish weather, tornado warnings, etc. all in Southern MO…right where they were driving!!! When I hadn’t heard from him in a while, I called and he didn’t answer. So I called his sister, who had just gotten down to Black River. She said he wasn’t there yet, and she hadn’t heard from him. Well that was it. I was convinced they were dead alongside the road, whisked away by a tornado, something! Finally, when I called Kurt again, he answered this time. And he was all, “Hey, what’s going on?” And I was like, “OH MY GOD I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! I WAS PLANNING YOUR FUNERAL! WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘HEY WHAT’S GOING ON?’ I’M FREAKING OUT HERE!” Totally unfazed, he said, “We’re just at Lenny’s buying candy. We’re like two seconds from the lodge.” Seriously? I wonder why I was so anxious on this trip? It certainly didn’t start off well.


  5. Great post. My husband and I are the exact same when it comes to the carnival!! It ends in “but the kids love it so much and we should do it cause we will drive past it and never hear the end of why they didn’t go…”


  6. I totally agree with you! I am always saying “be careful” to the kids, so much so, that Luke now says it! I have anxiety about things like childhood cancer or weird illnesses that could result in death. Cheerful thoughts, I know!


    1. Ugh. I’m with you on the childhood illness stuff too. Man, I don’t think I’m come across an anxiety that I DON’T have. That’s not good. I obviously need to work on some stuff.


  7. I approach every vacation like it’s a scene from Final Destination. I don’t know why fantasizing about the worst things that could happen make me feel prepared but it does. I’m working on it but it’s good to know I’m not alone!


  8. Yep, and I’m the mother who wouldn’t let my Boy Scout go to the Cumberland Caverns, bc I’d been there as a Girl Scout and our leader got stuck in a tunnel. I’m sure he thanks me now!


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