My name is Robyn Margulis, and I am a perpetual worrier. If there are 12-step meetings for this problem, I probably need them. At the same time, I will not apologize. This is who I am.
My problem got worse after I had children. I know others just like me. It's good to know I'm not alone.
My husband is not a worrier. This is a problem. Because when I express concern about something, he often expresses the opposite. Sometimes I give in. Sometimes I dig in my heels.
When my daughter was 2 years old, I recall that my father-in-law wanted to take her for a ride on his golf cart through his neighborhood in the Pocono Mountains. The neighborhood consisted of roads with curves and steep inclines that were shared by other slow moving golf carts, four-wheel vehicles, cars, and trucks pulling boats. There were no seat belts, or doors, or anything protecting her, other than the one free arm that her grandfather would use to hold her while navigating the roads with the other. It was a risk that I was not willing to take. My husband thought I was worrying too much. I dug my heels in: Not happening-it didn't happen.
Another time, her grandparents wanted to drive down to the lake. When we all went to pile into the van, I realized my daughter's car seat was in the other car. I was made to feel silly that I balked at the idea of proceeding without the car seat, primarily because it was such a short drive (less than 3 minutes). I gave in. The guilt I felt for doing so (and putting my child at risk) was overwhelming.
Recently there was a serious accident involving two school buses filled with band members on a trip to an amusement park. Several teens were injured and, sadly, one teen died. I watched this report thinking that is precisely the reason that I spent the day utterly tormented when my teen was on a choir trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. The idea that I was not with her and someone else was completely in control of her well-being was more than I could take. I am so thankful for cell phones. At least I was able to text her regularly to ensure that she was safe.
Last weekend, my kids were both visiting friends when an emergency alert was announced on the television about a tornado warning. This was no standard warning, though, in that it actually suggested that tornadoes were spotted in the area and reports of imminent touch down in our neighborhood was predicted. My husband's main concern was making certain the big T.V. was unplugged. I, on the other hand, wanted to know if my kids were indoors, and whether their friends' homes had basements. I called the kids on their cell phones to ask just that and was reassured after speaking to them: They were inside, and both homes had basements. That didn't stop me from staring out the window thinking I should pick them up anyway. My spouse thought I was losing my mind. Not only did he not share my concern about the kids safety (he did not see the threat as precarious); he proceeded to bust my chops by sarcastically suggesting that Northfield was on the verge of an Apocalypse and no other town was in danger.
Yesterday was another example of the differences in how my husband and I view a particular situation. My daughter, a competitive figure skater, had been training when she fell while executing a spin and hit the back of her head on the ice. She withheld this information for several hours (thinking it was "no big deal") until her headache and neck pain finally prompted her to disclose what had happened. While we were both concerned about the fall, my hubby was content to just keep an eye on her. I, on the other hand, was on the verge of paranoia as I shone a flashlight in her eyes and grilled her with questions. When I finally decided to call the doctor, and suggested to my husband that we might be taking a trip to the emergency room, I was, once again, feeling the need to justify my worries as my spouse thought I was overreacting. Moreover, he is so anti-hospital that he was trying to convince me that my concerns were outweighed by the fact that she was more likely to contract a disease by stepping foot in a hospital emergency room.
I dug my heels in. We were en route to the E.R. when all of us should have been turning in for the night. I did not care that I had to work in the morning and that I'd probably spend hours in the E.R. I had to make sure she was okay. Thankfully, my daughter only suffered a mild concussion and she was cleared by doctors to go home. I did not care if I heard the "I told-you-so's;" I needed reassurance from the professionals.
I am not suggesting that my husband is an uncaring dad who does not worry about the well-being of his children. He does, indeed, worry about the health and safety of our offspring. I am convinced, however, that he and I see things very differently. I allow my fears and insecurities to control me; and he allows his naïveté to control him.
In general, I believe that men and women respond differently to similar situations. I am not willing to suggest that one gender is right and the other is wrong. But there is something ingrained in mothers that cause them to worry, maybe to a fault, about the well-being of their children. That is me. And for that I am not willing to apologize.