So you all already know, I’m not the most adventurous person.
Sure, I’ll try new things and barrel my way through challenges – like training for and teaching group fitness classes. And I’m definitely not shy.
But I have this cautious side. I worry. Get caught up in anxiety. Run through all the terrible, no-good things that could happen to me and my loved ones. Like, if I just worry about those things enough, then I can keep everyone safe.
In reality, the only thing I manage to do when I get all in a twit over worry, is create more worry. And for me, my endless worries do nothing but rob me of joy.
Worrying isn’t preventative. It’s a fun-sucker. Since June is my month of joy, I’ve been thinking about how I can take away worry and replace it with more joy into my everyday life. I thought I would be doing lots of tangible things to create more joy – perhaps buying a new pair of shoes or going out to eat. Those things definitely do bring me joy. But I find that joy almost temporary.
Surprisingly, it’s been motherhood that’s been bringing me joy these past couple of weeks. But not just because Kate’s face is so darn cute I just want to squeeze those cheeks. And not just because I love that kid more than I love anything else.
It’s because I want her to experience joy. I want her to be (an appropriate amount of) fearless. I want her to find great happiness in her everyday life.
When it comes to Kate, I don’t let that worry part of me show on my face. I act like everything’s the best thing in the entire world.
For example, we hit up the sprayground the other day, and I went over all the dangers in my mind on the car ride over: older kids knocking her down, her falling and knocking her head, someone grabbing her if I took my eyes off her for one second, her running into the street.
But all I said her to her was: LET’S HAVE FUN! THIS IS THE MOST FUN THING EVER!
Before the fountain went off, I explained to her the water was going to shoot up and it was going to be SO MUCH FUN! And we would get all wet and it would feel nice and cool and we’d splash and laugh and have a fun time. FUN TIME!
When the fountain went off, she looked back at me with the slightest look of caution on her face. But I smiled my biggest mommy smile and clapped my hands and said YEAH, WATER! SPLASH SPLASH! FUN! And that was all it took.
Kate ran with the big kids and splashed and laughed and played. And when the fountain caught her by surprise, and she looked at me like she wanted to cry, I’d laugh and say oh, no, the water got you, catch that water! and she’d get back to playing in that joyful way that toddlers do so well.
I don’t want my worries to become Kate’s worries. Kate shouldn’t find the world a scary place. She should find her world fun and safe and interesting.
Worry. Fear. Unknowns. All those things try to capture my joy and keep me always so on the look out for danger that I fail to see the good things happening right in front of me. All the joyful, happy things that make life worth living. I can’t prevent bad things from happening. But I can be grateful – and joyful – for all those good, good things.