By Emily Harrington
I am the way I am because of my mother.
My entire life I’ve been a worrier, even more so when I was a child. My dad would always say, “You worry too much.”
I worried the tornado watch would turn into a warning, burglars would break into our house at night, my mom and dad would get into a fight and get divorced, AIDS, everything. Yes, as an 8-year-old I worried about AIDS. Granted, Magic Johnson had just disclosed his own disease and the Ryan White story was on Lifetime constantly, but still. That’s heavy for an 8-year-old.
I never really felt safe. When my mom would hold me, I’d pat her back as she patted mine. I wanted her to be OK, in order for me to be OK. When she got in the car, I’d make sure she had her purse and that the car door was locked.
Eventually the incessant worrying morphed into anxiety that I still suffer from today. Pour in a little OCD and perfectionist tendencies for good measure and you’ve got me.
Making sure my mom was OK meant not disappointing her, too. I felt like I needed to be the perfect daughter — still do really. Sometimes she will focus in on a blemish I have or tell me I should have made homemade cookies instead of the store bought cookies for the family potluck.
Who you become starts to makes sense if you look back at how you were raised. I suffer from anxiety, more than likely because of the pressure I felt, the pressure I still feel.
Recently, my mom and I were babysitting a little girl in our family. She was coloring and dumped the box of crayons out on the table to access them better. My mom scolded her and told her to take them out one at a time them put them back in the box after using them. At that moment I thought, this makes complete sense. I make complete sense. My clothes are arranged by style and color, just like how my mom wants the crayons arranged in the box. It seems so trivial, but if someone tells you a certain way to do things, her way — the “right” way — you begin to think in that way.
Now, I’m just writing about the bad stuff. Truly, my mother and I are best friends. We really do adore each other. So, for as many negative qualities as she has ingrained in my psyche, she has also provided my some pretty good genetic dispositions. I am a healthy, happy adult, but this may piece together my seemingly neurotic fears about baby-raising.
I want our future daughter or son to be able to overturn the crayon box and not have me freak out. I want them to know it’s OK to make mistakes. I’m here to listen and not judge.
One thing is for certain: I will make sure our future children know every day that they are beautiful inside and out, that they are smart and kind. And that they are not perfect, and that’s OK with me.
Emily Harrington is a 28-year-old townie on the cusp of full blown adulthood. She’s a wife still in the honeymoon stage and a mom of a borderline psychotic mini-Australian Shepherd. She has a full-time job in communications/marketing and a full-time life outside of work.