Moms are like little worry factories. We worry all the time and we worry about everything. Me? I worried a crevice in my forehead so deep I had to clean it out with a Q-Tip every night. And then I worried that the baby would fish the Q-Tip out of the trash and eat it.
Ask any mom what her top three worries are and I bet she’ll rattle them off the top of her head without hesitation. Even if she’s 100 and her kids have kids who have their own forehead worry-ditches.
My Top Three were, are, and will always be choking, kidnapping, and the first day of school. If my child choked on the first day of school and then was kidnapped by fake ambulance drivers, my inner Liam Neeson would come bubbling up from my DNA and there would be some hell to pay.
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. Seriously, I just spent $157 for notebook paper and mechanical pencils for my kids and 3-liters of hand sanitizer for the teacher. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquired over a very long career of mothering three children. Not really all that long but it seems long. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. I can sew a Halloween costume while nursing a baby, I know all the words to every Nickelodeon show from 1988 through 1997, and I have an X-acto knife somewhere in my house, probably under the bathroom sink with the glitter and extra shoelaces. If you let my daughter go now that will be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t. I will look for you. I will find you. And I will make you fill out every form she brings home from school today.
I would go on at length about my choking phobia, but it’s not in the least funny, so we’ll let it drop. Suggesting that I write a funny column about choking would be like me saying, “Hey, Paula Poundstone, why don’t you tell some jokes about that time you got your foster kids taken away from you for driving drunk for ice cream?” Always and forever too soon.
But the first day of school gives me some leeway. My kids have been out of school for many years, but when I think back on their first days of school, my IBS flares up. It’s just not something I’ll ever be OK with. Your kids being nervous and scared and feeling alone and unsure of themselves makes me want to round up every bully and punch them in the face.
And we don’t stop with our own kids. I worry about my nieces and nephews, the kids in the neighborhood, the kids in our old neighborhoods, every kid I ever taught in 10 years of CCD, and kids I don’t even like.
Here’s a real conversation between me and my sister about my nephew:
“It’s Robbie’s first day today. I’m so nervous for him.”
“Oh god! Now I’m nervous! I bet he has First Day of School Stomach.”
“I know. I hope the other kids are nice to him.”
“And what about lunch? What about the cafeteria? Will he have anyone to sit with?”
“I wonder if the other kids buy or take.”
“You definitely don’t want to get that wrong. What about the bus? Does he know which one to get on? Oh, and did he plan his first day outfit?
“Oh, I’m not sure. I wonder what the other kids are wearing. I heard Sketchers.”
“Does he have all the right stuff? HE NEEDS ALL THE RIGHT STUFF!”
Robbie is 35. He’s married with two kids, and starting a new job as a corporate recruiter and that was last Monday. I had to put my hands in my armpits to keep from texting him that night. How did it go? Did you make any friends? Who did you sit with at lunch?
My kids don’t have a first day every year anymore. And I only have so many nieces and nephews who regularly start new jobs. I would be happy to hire myself out to worry about anyone out there whose moms are more focused on drowning, social media addiction and cults. We’re spread pretty thin.
I wonder . . . When a young adult finds out there is an aunt out there praying for him to get the office dress code right on his first day on the job, is it comforting? Or creepy? Is all of our mom worry doing any good out there in the universe?
I’d like to think so. But I can’t be sure. My kids never told me if things didn’t go well on the first day. They didn’t want me to worry.
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