Essays
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I Worry

By: Jen Shoop

*image via.

I worry

About my son’s articulation, the way his mispronunciations alienate him from friends and frustrate him. We are in weekly speech therapy, and seeing progress, but how much and is it enough?

About loved ones, getting older — how many more holidays and clinked glasses and “I was just calling you because I saw the English muffins were on sale” are left?

About failed or embattled relationships – did I give fully of myself? Was I right or wrong, and does it matter anyway? I mourn the friendships, but were they healthy for me to begin with?

About my writing, currently dimmed and strained by the heft of my everyday life: how long will I sit beneath this waning moon?

About my own health: each doctor’s visit a crescendo-ing panic of “I’m sure I have cancer,” having lost or seen suffer too many loved ones in its nasty grip,

About my daughter’s moodiness: is this the way of all six year old girls, or have I done something wrong as a parent?

About my still-too-full days, brimming despite my valiant efforts to reduce the volume —

About my c-section scars that feel still-weird, and whose dimpled impression I tolerate but do not love,

About my awkwardnesses in certain social settings (having recently left a room and thought, ‘That…was not my best work’),

About the way I snapped at my son while I was frantically attempting to sign him up for a difficult-to-get-into summer camp last night,

About the timer I’d set for the camp registration, and was convinced would not go off,

About the summer ahead: not yet planned and registrations are filling up or full,

But

What good is this worry litany?

It imagines too many endings that never come,

and instead pile up in my lap, unwanted freight.

Michele de Montaigne wrote: “There were many terrible things in my life, and most of them never happened.”

Let me place these worries elsewhere. I am not strong enough to burn them, and I don’t like the image of locking them up somewhere, to multiply in intensity when I am too weak to keep the latch closed,

So instead, I will hang them in a closet in another house far away, only visitable after strenuous travel. They are there, but a long way gone.

Now, let me go out into my morning, and stand at the foot of Mount Helicon, and praise the day and what it might bring,

Scarred but fleeter-footed.

Post-Scripts.

+On reminding myself I’m where I need to be.

+On medical anxiety in the COVID/post-COVID age.

+On catastrophizing.

+Emotional touchstones.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate linksIf you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+An easy way to get organized this January: add a purse organizer to your everyday tote!

+Chic $129 tweed blazer. Chanel vibes for less. The olive green color is new and head-turning!

+Fab dark wash trouser jeans.

+This always-popular rattan side table is back in stock.

+My recent Sezane order: these jeans, this sweater, this tee, and these socks.

+Inspo for working out: this cheery $30 sweatshirt, colorful weights, and this ribbed cropped tank.

+New swim options I’m eyeing: have heard so many good things about LSpace suits over the years, and I know several Magpies are evangelical about Matteau, which is deeply discounted here.

+Everyone’s favorite sweater blazer, on sale. Perfect buy for the new year.

+One of my favorite children’s boutiques, Danrie, currently has a great sale section that includes Northern Classics parkas, Huxbaby dresses, infant knitwear from Paz, and spendy but adorable Bobo Choses sweatsuits. We have a handful of Bobo Choses pieces and I always feel like my kids look like fancy French children who have cool parents in the music industry when they wear them — ha.

+These goodies from Target’s new collection with McGee are selling fast, and have been really popular among Magpies. Especially love this brass bowl.

+These wavy brass frames are so chic for special photographs.

+A beautiful writing desk.

+Still obsessed with my headphones and their little stand.

+Ordered myself a wick trimmer! Fun little object to keep out on a tray, too.

+Lots of Dorsey restocks this week — just saw that my favorite emerald earrings also came back! Wore these a lot over the holidays. So many compliments! People assumed they were heirloom / from my grandmother!

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24 thoughts on “I Worry

  1. Oh how fortunate are we to have resources available when we need them (especially for our children). And what a gift it is to worry– because we care, we love, and we want to do better especially for those dearest to us. To keep from worrying too much, I say my prayers in the morning and give thanks at night– always humbled that the good outweighed the trying moments yet again. Wishing you and your family all the best. And as I always remind myself, “Always look at the big picture– good health, a happy home, and the resolve to overcome because we are all in it together.”

  2. Hi Jen! Just wanted to share that my husband needed extensive speech therapy and education accommodations until 10, my little brother until 7 (no words at all until 3 1/2), and I myself lisp slightly. My husband was 3rd in his class at Cornell, my brother is a videogame programmer, and you’d never know about either of them unless they told you. Kind, thoughtful, wonderful men. Mine is the most noticeable out of us as adults, probably because I never had speech therapy! You are doing all the right things.

  3. Thank you for your post and your honesty, and I hope you find some greater ease soon. I just wanted to say how I have appreciated all your posts on motherhood- my girls are almost 4 and 1.5, and I have found it so helpful to follow the ups and downs and challenges that you have faced, and the way that you have approached everything. (I have had some similar challenges, including low supply, pumping, etc etc). We’re all there with you!

    1. Thank you, Cait! It means so much to me, and makes the challenges of motherhood so much more bearable, when mothers like yourself chime in to say “oh yes, I’m going through the same thing.” Motherhood can feel so alienating and yet many, many of us are experiencing the same gamut of worries and heartswells on a daily basis!! So thank you for sitting with me in this.

      xx

  4. Oh Jen, solidarity with you on all these worries!

    My parents are turning 80 this year and we live on opposite sides of the planet. And while they are (blessedly) generally active I always worry about *that* phone call.

    We are also in the middle of making some health care (therapy) decisions for my daughter. Meanwhile I question myself everyday on how I’m doing with parenting a child with sensory challenges and anxiety.

    You are not alone.

    “What good is this worry litany?

    It imagines too many endings that never come,

    and instead pile up in my lap, unwanted freight.”

    A friend once told me: “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want to happen.” I remind myself of this often when I start catastrophizing. The other mindset adjustment I have been trying to practice is — whenever I start thinking, “what if (insert negative outcome) happens?” I challenge myself and instead think, “what if it doesn’t?” or “what if (insert positive outcome) happens?” and this really helps me redirect my thoughts and keep them from spiraling.

    1. This is so helpful, Mia. Love the “what if it doesn’t” or “what if” thinking — creates multiplicity, room, space, so you’re not just sucked down one worry spiral. Thanks for sharing that strategy. So sorry to hear you’re going through your own “worry litany” and sending you lots of love. I know the agony of making decisions / seeking input and second opinions on health / therapy matters for children. It can be paralyzing, and overwhelming! Hoping you can lean on some trusted friends to help lighten the load.

      xx

  5. Hi Jen. Thank you so much for sharing and being vulnerable about your worries. I also love seeing all those posting here and sharing about their experiences and offering words of encouragement.
    While I do not have children, I have seen my sister facing similar worries about her two boys, Her youngest (6) is currently working with a speech therapist and her oldest (10) also received speech therapy and it was so helpful,
    I commend you & her & every parent who has confronted and acted as soon as they noticed an issue. I’m sure that’s not easy, but what a difference it can make.
    Regarding worrying about “problems” that may never come to pass: My mom always did this. I wish I had known of the saying you quoted above (“There were many terrible things in my life, and most of them never happened.”)
    I would always tell her “that may never happen. We need to reserve our strength to deal with what is happening now.”
    My father would often say “cada dia tiene su afan.” Literally, “every day has its worry.” I think that attitude helped him live to age 95. He didn’t panic about things that might never happen.

    1. Hi Marty – Thank you so much for the lovely note. So helpful to hear about your sister and her boys, and love the quote from your Dad!! Thank you.

      xx

  6. Having a 36 year old nonverbal son who has many and multiple diagnosis, requires 24 hour around the clock care, I know something about worry! I have experienced many issues and never want anyone to experience what I have gone through. Being nonverbal leaves many opportunities for abuse, so please take comfort in your son being verbal! Your worry is for you. It doesn’t help much but as a mother we all carry it for ourselves. When some heavier worry takes hold, my only help is to breathe and take the time in tolerable increments. One minute, five minutes or some tolerable timeframe one step at a time. Mothers are only as happy as their least happy child. Motherhood is HARD! You are strong and together, we will move forward. Sending love and prayers your way.

    1. Cynthia! So much wisdom here; thank you so much for sharing and helping me get a little perspective on some of these matters! You are SO strong. I appreciate your sharing your heart and experience raising a son with a disability.

      Thank you friend xx

  7. Oh Jen, I feel deeply seen by this post and hope you know you’re not alone in this. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this.

  8. Worrying is a true form of suffering. This was the reminder I needed to place my worries elsewhere and stop the catastrophic thinking.

    1. Hi Anne – I’m so glad the words arrived at the right time. Yes! Let’s create some space between ourselves and these imagined unhappy endings / worries! Thanks for writing in. I feel so lifted / not alone today!

      xx

  9. My son’s autistic and we struggled through nearly no speech for years (it took several years of preschool early intervention therapy through our school district and private speech therapy.) Now he talks all the time but one of the things I noticed was that we would see no progress for a long time, to the point wondering if he would ever talk or if it would be minimal and then all of a sudden he would have a burst of development, like something suddenly clicked for him. Then it would stagnate for a bit, then another burst. Every kid is obviously very different but hoping this is a little peace-of-mind as he’s going through speech therapy.

    1. Hi Jennifer – Thank you so much for sharing your experience! So helpful for my particular situation but I’m sure so many other Magpie readers, too, because I’m sure this happens in other developmental areas, too! Thank you. Your note was a reminder to keep at it, keep the faith!

      xx

  10. I feel so seen by this list. Thank you so much for sharing and being vulnerable. It’s really hard not to let these worries swirl. I would love to hear more about how to quiet them! Xo

    1. Thank you, Emily! I appreciate the encouragement and soft landing you’ve offered me.

      I don’t have any magic bullet answers for quieting the worries beyond telling myself “put those thoughts in that closet in that house for away” as a visual mnemonic for imagining space between myself and them. However! Just yesterday Caroline Chambers shared on her instagram that she’d been having intrusive thoughts about her kids getting carbon monoxide poisoning — completely out of the blue, and something she’d literally never thought about before. She shared something from a therapist talking about those intrusive thoughts that said (paraphrasing) the best thing to do is to see them and dismiss them, e.g., “ok, I see that thought, and it’s just an intrusive thought, and it needs to get out of here.” Something about identifying the thought in that way seems empowering.

      xx

  11. Jen, I sent you an email through your contact form…but wanted to share that my son had major articulation and speech issues, which lead to lots of other things.. We taught him at a young age to own it. We told him if someone makes fun of you or says “you talk funny”, we said just say “yeah, I know” or ‘duh! what’s your point?” or something that he is comfortable with. It shifts the power and then, hopefully, the majority of the time, it’s over and they go back to playing. For me, it was a long, hard road of worry. However, he’s 22 now, just graduated from college and gave tons of speeches in school. Would have never thought. Please reach out if you want someone to bounce ideas off of.

    1. This is so encouraging, and so generous of you to share! Thank you, Lyse! I love the idea of empowering my son to “normalize” the articulation issues whenever challenged. Thank you for sitting with me in this.

      xx

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