There's a special anxiety reserved for those of us with grown children. Since we're no longer in control of their health and safety--as we were when they were young and lived under our roof--when there are "threats" to their well being, we can only worry, fret, second guess, interfere and do assorted other things to help control our anxieties.
Even when we share our good guidance tips with them, it doesn't solve the problem. They're going to make their own decisions and they may or may not factor in anything we say.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Alpha daughter and her family--one child, one husband, one dog--were here for a weekend visit.
It was a lovely visit--lots of chit chat and talking about big and little things. But this weekend, it turns out, was the one where Superstorm Sandy was due to land late on Sunday or early Monday. I wasn't sure how involved our city would be, but between our home and Alpha Daughter's, chaos would reign. Before I went to bed Saturday night, I checked some online sites--the New York Times among them. And there it was--an announcement that Mayor Bloomberg was likely to close bridges and tunnels in and out of the city as well as the subway system. Airlines were announcing low or no cancellation fees for Sunday flights. Towns along the coast--New Jersey and Delaware beach towns--were being evacuated.
Alpha daughter and family were planning to drive home Sunday afternoon. Oy, as my grandmother might say. My son in law was still awake and working on his laptop. I laid out my concerns. He didn't seem worried. But I was all anxiety now. I sputtered on about how difficult it would to drive through or around the city. I suggested they get up early in the morning and drive straight home.
He didn't exactly poo-poo my suggestion--he's too polite for that. But he did let me know that he didn't think there was any reason to change their plan yet. My parting shot was, "Just think about it."
Maybe it's because I'm getting older or less able to control actions, but little worries tend to be bigger ones now. I was awake most of the night. Fretting,, worrying, wondering how they could get home safely. And if they didn't leave on Sunday, they were not likely to be able to get out until Wednesday. I got up and did some deep breathing, some Yoga, some meditation. I couldn't force them to get up at the crack of dawn and get going. And that's what I felt they needed to do to get home safely and within a reasonable amount of time.
Alpha daughter's an early riser. When she got up and online, she started packing her bags. The situation was even worse than it had been the night before. As the extent of the proposed evacuations became clear, they decided to take the "long" route home--and not go near New York City but head west to Pennsylvania before heading east to their home in New England.
So one anxiety down--they were leaving early--but a day of nervousness ahead: were they finding their way on the new route, was there a lot of traffic, could they get gas and food at highway stops.
We can drive ourselves crazy thinking about the things that can go wrong. Fortunately, Alpha daughter was kind to her aging mom. She or my son-in-law called every few hours to let us know how well things were going. It took them 11 hours to make what otherwise should have been a 9-hour drive but they got home safely.
Now I could turn to anxieties over personal survival if we lost heat and light--or even part of our roof--from the storm. We were, luckily, on the edge of Superstorm Sandy's fury and just got a glancing blow. Ditto for Alpha Daughter in New England. Now what else could I find to worry about? Oh yes. The election, which was still more than a week away.
Finally, today, the election is history and I can breathe deeply. For now.