Tag Archives: worry

Sweating the Small Stuff

www.melindawentzel.comContrary to some of the most sensible advice on the planet, I sweat the small stuff. Every. Single. Day. And although my left-brained, logical self is keenly aware of such a destructive penchant, it seems I cannot help myself.

Sadly, said sweating goes far beyond the garden-variety neuroses I’ve described in the past, eclipsing my obsession with the worst-case scenario game I play as a matter of course. It also exceeds the bounds of reason with respect to the picayune nature of my parenting gripes. That said, I sweat the small stuff in a very large way. And at no time does this particular foible become more apparent than now—as I’ve recently joined the ranks of the Sandwich Generation, a group of individuals who try (and often fail spectacularly) to attend AT ONCE to the many and varied needs of a young family and aging parents.

Indeed, this is perhaps the worst time to be stressing over the notion that my husband forgot to rummage through backpacks for important school papers virtually every day that I was gone (i.e. in and out of hospitals helping my parents)…or that he allowed our brood to pile sinful quantities of their beloved schlock upon the kitchen table at will…or that he let them wear skinny jeans (gasp!) to basketball practice.

Not because they had nothing suitable or clean to wear, or because our dear children suffered a mental lapse regarding the whereabouts of their shorts, but because I wasn’t there to flatly deny said request, to enlighten all interested parties that “dark jeans will transform perfectly wonderful underwear into hideous-looking, permanently ink-hued garmentage you’ll vehemently refuse to wear ever again.” “Besides, jeans don’t breathe especially well, and by wearing them you’ll get teased (read: mocked unmercifully) for committing a heinous crime of fashion.” Mister Mom apparently caved on the hotly contested ponytail-wearing issue, too. I can only imagine my charges’ unbridled manes flopping across their faces as they raced around the gym in a euphoric state of defiance. Oy.

Stupidly, I let this sort of thing bother me, along with the deluge of homework that was completed “differently” than I would’ve liked over a 10-day span, and the vat of laundry that was folded and arranged in a manner that offended my sensibilities—as if it really mattered how the fucking socks were mated and the shirts were stacked. Never mind the library books that may or may not have been returned on time or the journal entries that fell embarrassingly short of the standard three-paragraph length I routinely insist upon. It’s rumored a 22-minute telephone rant involving the aforementioned points of contention may have occurred. I blame my sleep-starved condition, an intolerable dearth of sunshine and an incapacitating need to control my environment.

As a result, and as a complete fool for the duration, I heaped mounds of undeserved criticism upon my husband—sending him the stingingly clear message that he was somehow “doing it wrong,” never mind the impossible task with which he had been charged—to parent, to provide and, at all costs, to resist the urge to tackle the laundry aside from folding and stacking it incorrectly. Of course, in my absence he also lobbied hard for the release of a certain pet frog into the wild (and succeeded!), held a funeral service for yet another frog that met an untimely demise, dealt with a plethora of thorny pre-adolescent issues, got our progenies to bed at a reasonable hour each night and onto the school bus each morning with a smile, faithfully delivered them to an ungodly number of sporting events and/or music rehearsals and, perhaps most impressively, removed that which had become the bane of my existence for much of October (i.e. the unsightly mass of pumpkin carnage whose stench and associated ooze were known far and wide).

Needless to say, the man deserved a medal—not only for his solo parenting feats, but for providing me with a soft spot to land. It’s good to be home.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (still sweating the small stuff). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Sandwich Generation, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Ode to Oblivion

I envy my dog at times. I suppose it’s because he seems perpetually happy—aside from the instances during which his neurotic little soul is seized by that which triggers a barking frenzy (i.e. when he encounters joggers with or without headbands, school buses and garbage trucks, people who ostensibly smell funny and practically every sound of undetermined origin). For the most part, however, his days are filled with the quiet contentment of gnawing on Barbie dolls and plastic dinosaurs, hauling underwear and sweat socks into the kitchen with glee and, of course, whizzing indiscriminately. In a word, he doesn’t worry his fuzzy little head over much of anything—even as newscasters here and abroad deliver disturbing bulletins day in and day out as a matter of course.

Indeed, my dear dog is blissfully unaware of all the horrible things that have happened across the globe (or that may occur) on any given day. That said, he is largely unaffected by reports of natural disasters, financial ruin, personal tragedies, heinous crimes, political upheaval and societal unrest. Never mind the special brand of awful that occasionally befalls our happy home. Simply put, his pea brain is incapable of processing such information; ergo he lacks the ability to catastrophize events like I do. And by catastrophize I mean to paint every picture with the worst-case scenario brush and to become deeply consumed with worry and dread over that which will probably never happen anyway.

Granted there are plenty of things in my life that represent legitimate causes for concern—my parents’ health, my daughter having recently totaled her car and the uncertain nature of my roof and refrigerator, circa the Paleozoic Era. Need I even mention my dog’s crippling affinity for hamsters, coupled with an eagerness to sample the wee furry beasts—or my husband’s beloved cell phone, which has been MIA for 22 days running? Not that anyone’s been counting. Alright we’ve been counting. And pacing. And wringing our hands in exasperation.

However the vast majority of stressing I do is patently absurd. I worry about becoming discombobulated in public, about our pet frogs reproducing to an unprecedented and unmanageable degree, about the prospect of our obscenely overloaded garage harboring some sort of immune-resistant virus involving fetid soccer cleats, about the frightening odds of our children marrying Republicans. I also trouble myself with the notion that my husband will one day wise up and leave me, opting for the greener pastures of normalcy. What’s more, I fret about the contents of my kids’ backpacks and whether or not they remembered to pack library books and snacks. I obsess over the color of their socks, the integrity of their bike helmets and the current state of their toenails. Coughs bother me, too. As do unexplained rashes and nosebleeds.

Admittedly, I am a fusspot-of-a-mother and I spend way too much time in a not-so-quiet state of panic over decidedly remote possibilities—like pandemics spread by way of earwax, apocalyptic wars over the fate of the new (and purportedly improved) Facebook and world domination by creatures (think: giant spiders!) whose hideousness has yet to be fully imagined. For the record, I won’t be seeing Contagion anytime soon and I was all but convinced that a bus-sized chunk of space debris that was destined to fall from the sky last week would land squarely on our home. Indeed, I have issues.

Clearly I would do well to refrain from inviting fear and worry into my world. To stop thinking about all the thinking I do. To spend a moment inside my dog’s carefree little mind, basking in the glory of oblivion. But perhaps what I need more than anything, as my friend Sally recently suggested, are stabilizers—the sort that steady ships in rough seas, providing a goodly measure of stability and assurance for all concerned. Yep. Stabilizers—for every neurotic corner of my life.

Then again, the Land of Oblivion carries a certain appeal, too.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (envying my dog). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative