The Sum of My Parental Fears
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I’m a worrier. I’ve always been one. In fifth grade, I lost my glasses on a class field trip (Camp Warwick, represent) and shook relentlessly on the bus ride home, imagining the wrath of my disappointed parents. As an adult, flying post-911, my heart pumped with unhinged anxiety as I reluctantly stepped aboard United Flight 246. Hell, I’m even worried about whether you’ll enjoy this blog or not. Having children did nothing to curb the fear. It’s merely amplified it to the point where I long for the days when I had just my own body and future to worry about.
If you’re the type of person who tends not to get nervous, the type who could scale a skyscraper without a belay, the following may come across as nutty and extreme. But if you’re as neurotic as I am, I think you’ll relate to more of this than you care to admit.
That said, here are my parental fears, condensed.
I worry that my kids will remember me as an angry, unhappy father when they’re adults. Whenever my father tells a funny story about my grandfather, it almost always involves him yelling at someone or something. And while I’ll always remember my grandfather as a kind, loving man, I would hope that me raising my voice isn’t what my sons will remember most.
I worry that I don’t talk to my kids enough. Like actually talk to them. It’s so very easy to let a day or several days go by without ever taking the time to do that.
I worry that my kids won’t remember my mother, who died when they were both under the age of 3. In fact, I know they won’t remember her. I’ve accepted that. It’s why establishing her presence through stories, pictures, and video is so important.
I worry that my kids will say “your” when they mean “you’re” and “you’re” when they mean “your.” That might sound absurd to you, but I think grammar/communication is more important than practically any other subject in school. Everything from writing presentations, business proposals, to emails and texts, the way we communicate leaves a lasting impression on others.
I worry that I’ll get a phone call from the police department and suddenly find myself as part of the latest school tragedy. It’s an ungodly trend that’s developing in our country, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it every time I drop my kids off in the morning.
I worry that I will never achieve the balance in my life where my career, family, and hobbies are all progressing at a vibrant, healthy rate. I constantly feel like when one is thriving, the other two are running to catch up.
I worry that my kids will grow up listening to music that contains no soul or substance. I want them to harbor eclectic collections that touch every genre. It would break my heart into pieces to hear that they “aren’t into live music” or they “only listen to DJs.” I want my kids to be colorful, fire-breathing souls, not the type of drones who never explore the art of music deeper than that of…Ke$ha.
I worry that I let my kids get away with too much. Then, I worry that I’m disciplining too harshly. Whatever I’m doing, I’m pretty sure it will ultimately backfire.
I worry that my sons will pick up terrible habits from kids in school. But then I realize they’re probably picking up even worse habits from me.
I worry about the day when the childish innocence of my boys is gone, replaced with the head-shaking cynicism that all too easily can overcome us, by way of the evening news, getting screwed over by a friend, or by general exposure to life’s evils.
More than anything else, I worry about these things because I so earnestly want to raise children who are giving, open-minded, and happy. I realize happy is a seriously broad term, but my biggest worry as their father is that I’m not doing enough to enable their happiness as kids, and subsequently as adults. And aside from their own personal happiness, I have a steadfast need to raise children who are respectful of others, no matter what creed, culture, race, etc. To see otherwise would be heartbreaking, frankly.
I realize this is fruitless. Trust me. I’ve been told time and time again that worrying solves nothing. And I know they’re right. Put simply, I always have been and always will be a worrier. It manifests itself when I truly care about something—a job interview, an argument with a friend, this very blog you’re reading. The list goes on. But I like to think that, as a parent, being a worrier also makes me the type of protector my children need. While it increases the likelihood I’ll develop an ulcer tenfold, it also makes me especially cognizant of potential mistakes I might be making. That, in turn, yields more success as a parent than it would yield if I was a carefree, laid back soul. I hope so, anyway.
I hope this served as relatable fodder for people as neurotic as I am.
Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to tweet me @JoeDeProspero. What worries YOU?
Image: Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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