I have never considered myself an anxious person. When Rachel and Claire were in the NICU, I somehow knew that they would come out okay. When Christian and I left the girls with my sister and parents while we partied in Thackerville, OK, I didn’t feel the need to check in every hour. Actually I’m not sure I checked in at all. When a friend of mine (who admits she struggles with anxiety) told me how she couldn’t sleep the night before a business trip because she was afraid her husband would leave her son in the car while he ran into Starbucks, I said, “Oh, ha! I do that all the time.” (All the time = twice, in full view. In cold, non-suffocating temps.)
But my anxiety-free, free-range parenting style went out the window today as my children boarded a school bus with the rest of the summer camp kids and headed off for the planetarium in a nearby town – over an hour away.
So today’s activities for me consisted mostly of grinding my teeth, stress eating all the cheese, and drinking 3 massive cups of coffee (HI! I’m Leigh Ann and I literally cannot fit my eyelids over my eyeballs right now!)
I mean, what could happen with roughly 800 children (slight exaggeration, but 3 of those are mine) in a school bus with chaperones whose adulting qualifications are a hair older than the avocados in my fridge. Never mind that you’re not supposed to keep avocados in the fridge. Quit telling me how to live my life.
Car accidents. Busjackings. Sinkholes opening up in the middle of the highway. One of my kids getting lost in the museum. Rabid armadillos. You name it; I thought it.
I survived the day mostly through people telling me that my anxiety was not unwarranted – they had similar heart palpitations when their kids went on long field trips – or by my friend Cathy telling me to take a Xanax. Well, I have no Xanax, so more coffee it is! By 1pm my pulse was practically bursting through my neck, but I had done no fewer than 7 loads of laundry and petted a bald spot into the cat’s hindquarters.
I thought they were supposed to arrive back at 1:30, probably because that’s what the calendar said, so by 1:48 I was hemming and hawing over calling the camp to make sure they got back safely. I called; it went straight to voicemail. I chewed my left thumbnail off.
I finally got ahold of someone at the camp at 2:54, meaning they must have left the museum at 1:30, or they have really bad time management skills. And then I found myself explaining myself as to why I was calling her “just to check in.” I’m not sure a college kid can completely fathom the feeling of three pieces of your heart and soul being loaded onto a bus and driven to another town in a situation in which you have absolutely no control.
Maybe I need to work on some strategies for letting go. Also some coping mechanisms besides coffee because I can’t quite feel my toes, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be sleeping anytime soon.
But we’re all home together.