It is common for mothers to worry about their children. Yes, of course, dads do as well, but a mother has a very special relationship with her children, and worry is part and parcel of that reality. In her blog post, “Mother’s Anxiety: How Motherhood Breeds Anxiety,” psychology professor Amy Przeworski, PhD, captures this notion:
I thought I knew what high anxiety was before I became a mother, but upon learning that I was pregnant, I realized that anxiety could reach all-new levels. Suddenly, I was responsible for my life and the life of another person—a person I was growing! That led to a million new “What ifs.”
Another mom, author Jane Knuth, shares her wisdom about worrying and motherhood in her book, Love Will Steer Me True (co-authored with her daughter, Ellen Knuth) in a chapter titled, “Worry and Prayer Aren’t the Same Thing.” As we approach Mother’s Day, I offer a few thoughts from Jane as she reflects on the experiences of praying a novena and lighting candles:
The nine days of prayer are transformative for me; unlike worry, this prayer has a clearly defined beginning and ending. It becomes not so much fretting as it is a vigilant focus. Nine days is an interesting stretch of prayer: long enough to make the effort feel substantial, but not so long that I become obsessive about it. And then it is finished.
Worry is never finished. Prayer isn’t either, but it has restful places, such as candle lighting.
Lighting candles is becoming my favorite way not to worry. I walk into the empty church any time of day, slip some coins into the slot, strike a match, genuflect, bless myself, maybe kneel down for a few Hail Marys, and I am on my way. It takes care of the problem on my mind in both a concrete and spiritual way.
Prayer and worry are not the same thing at all. I am beginning to understand that they are opposites.
Thank you, to all of you moms out there, for the worry you carried and continue to carry for your children. May prayer transform those worries into “vigilant focus,” and may you find “restful places” along the way.