One of our favorite nurses asked me a question the other day.
‘I’ve never asked a family this’, he said. ‘But I’ve always wondered. Do you worry about Jackson when you’re not here?’
It took me a minute to answer.
‘Yes and no’, I told him. ‘I trust everyone here to keep him safe, but I still worry. I worry more when he’s not doing well that something will happen and we won’t make it here in time to say good bye. More than anything though, I just worry that he needs me. Don’t all moms worry about that, though?’
Jackson isn’t the first baby in our family. He was welcomed into the world by a handful of aunts and uncles and tons of cousins, one of whom is very close to his age. My sister had a baby about two months before Jackson was born and while our experiences have been completely different (thank god – could you imagine two babies in the NICU at the same time? No, thank you) they have actually been strikingly the same in one, big way.
We worry if they’re eating enough or not eating enough or eating the right thing.
We worry about sleep – how much they’re sleeping or how little. Where and when and how they’re sleeping. In what and with what and should they sleep on their backs or bellies?
We worry when they’re sick and when we’re not with them and when we are with them and what will happen to them down the road. We worry about things that have happened and haven’t happened and may never actually happen but are still scary. We worry about decisions we make for them and if they’re the right thing to do.
We both worry, just like I’m sure every other parent worries about their child.
So often I have people tell me about a problem they’re having only to finish it up with the statement ‘but it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through’. It’s not true, though. Worry is worry, just like pain is pain and joy is joy. Someone else’s experience doesn’t make yours any less valid. Just like my worry doesn’t make yours go away, your worry doesn’t make mine any easier.
And that’s okay.