Humor: Worrier for Hire
Mothers never stop worrying, says HEMLATA VASAVADA, speaking from experience. And they are good at it.So why not use that expertise to make some money?
As my friend Sunita and I walked to a neighbor’s house for coffee, I told her I had one more thing to worry about now that my daughter got her driver’s license. My friend warned me, “Don’t talk to the neighbors about it. They think Indian mothers are helicopter parents.”
At Donna’s home, nine of us sat sipping coffee,nibbling on cookies, and talking about our children. Donna was worried about her daughter going to a dance. She looked at me, “You and Sunita are lucky your daughters aren’t into boys. It is so nice they go with you for your cultural functions.”
I nodded. “Yes, but soon they will go with their school friends, too. Probably mothers of girls worry more than mothers of young boys.”
Mary shook her head. “Not true. I worry aboutmy son getting in a car accident, starting drugs, God knows what.”
We agreed that whether our children werefive years or fifty years old, mothers had earned and deserved the right to worry about them.
Norma suggested, “Let’s find a way so worrying doesn’t take up a chunk of our life. If we put our efforts together, we can handle it better.”
“Like Alcoholics Anonymous?” Erica asked.“Worriers Anonymous?”
We liked the idea, and agreed to meet weekly and invited therapists and speakers to gain some insights about our anxieties.
The first speaker, a Freudian psychologist, traced our worries to id, ego, and superego. The next month we called a Jungian analyst, who explained ourproblems through the archetype of motherhood. As months went by, we heard various psychologists, and acquired a sizable vocabulary for our anxieties and complexes. Sunita and I often struggled to spell the new names bestowed upon our children-related panic syndromes. Yet, learning the brand-names of ourproblems and practicing their spellings didn’t alleviate our worry levels.
Once, our group decided to try relaxation therapy. On the advice of our new therapist, we tried to make worrying a part of our body. We felt it in our heads, visualized it moving to our shoulders, felt the heat in our stomachs as it passed through and settled on our laps. It just sat there.
Another therapist told us she would treat us with Balloon Therapy. She commanded, “Collect all your worries and send them up, up, and away.”
“Look! My balloon just popped over my head,” said Sunita.
The rest of us ruefully shook our heads. The therapist sighed. “I can’t help you. Your collective motherly gravitational pull is too strong.”
When even Power of Positive Worrying and Creative Worrying didn’t help, we surmised that our karmas were catching up with us. We were destined to live with our problems because we had caused similar pains to our mothers.
One day, a neighbor brought a poster to ourmeeting. It read: WORRYING DOES HELP. EVERYTHINGI WORRIED ABOUT NEVER HAPPENED.
“Isn’t that the truth?” Kate stared at the words. “Think about it. How many times have we worried about something going wrong with our children, but it didn’t happen.”
Laura nodded. “I’m positive I’ve averted bad luck by worrying about it.”
Norma said, “If worrying is good, we should do more of it.”
“More?” I sighed. “It’s already draining so muchenergy out of us.”
“Then we must learn to worry efficiently,” Sunita offered.
“How can we do that?” Kate asked.
“I know,” said Marissa, an exuberant member of our group. “We can have a worry pool!”
“Worry pool?” Erica laughed. “Whoever heard of such a thing?”
“Well, we have carpools and babysitting pools.Why not a worry pool? If one mother is in charge of worrying one day, the other mothers can take the day off.” Laura said.
We decided it wouldn’t hurt to try this time and energy-saving proposition. We agreed we would take turns, but couldn’t decide whether to schedule our worrying by days or by events (report cards, sickchildren, teens driving) so we hired a time management consultant who made a schedule for us and asked us to keep a record of our worry-hours.
On the day of the concert, I gave up my meditation, vitamins, herb tea, and walk. I increased my caffeine and sugar. When that didn’t raise my blood pressure to worry level, I played an old rock CD—Smashing Pumpkins. The noise went straight to my churning stomach and activated my dormant ulcer.
I fretted when the girls didn’t come home after midnight. With my ears tuned to the police scanner, I paced the floor and stared out the window at thedriveway. When the phone rang, I ran and grabbedthe receiver.
“Hi, this is Sunita.”
“Aree, Sunita.” My voice trembled.
“Why aren’t the girls back? Maybe this job was too big. I should have helped you.”
Sunita finally laughed. “See, you proved that wedesis are good worriers! Good night.”
Just as I put the receiver down, the door whooshed open. “Hi, Mom, you’re still up! Were you worried?” My daughter asked.
“Worried? When Sunita called, I thought it wasthe police.”
“Mom, the POLICE is an ancient group. Didn’t you know we went to ...”
I interrupted, “I thought you were in an accident and the police called.”
My daughter hugged me, and then hummed cheerfully to her room, apparently oblivious to my concern. She turned and smiled. “Good night Mom. You worry for nothing.”
I went to bed mumbling, “She says I worry fornothing.”
My husband asked sleepily, “You want to get paid for it?”
Not a bad idea. Considering my experience, I could easily transition from a volunteer member of the“Worry Pool” to a respected professional. I used to hide my motherhood worry-symptoms. But now I’lladvertise it in hopes of using my power of worrying to make money, and relieve other mothers from their agony. I’ll put up a sign:
PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL WORRY POOL.
Hemlata Vasavada’s novel, The Cascade Winners, was published in 2014. Her personal essays, articles, andhumor pieces have appeared in magazines and newspapers. She lives in Pullman, Washington.
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