I Love You More Than All The Stars But I Worry

The heart-science of grandparenting

I Love You More Than All The Stars But I Worry
One of the author's three grandchildren, 2019. Photo by Emmie.

What surprised me most is how worried I was.

I'd had my girls at age 29 and 33 and I never took a Lamaze class. Turns out they were both caesarean sections so that worked out. Still, I do not recall feeling worried. About anything. Ever. Not once during my own pregnancies.

But oh, my. When I was 62 and my first grandchild was gestating along just fine I could not rid myself of these worries. Given enough interruption-free time I catastrophized like a boss. Every day. Unspoken what-ifs. Silent I-hopes. I generally keep my faith tank full but even so, I was often run down.

I am proud of the strong women my daughters have become. But things can happen in spite of the best of intentions (thank you WebMD) so I had nervous knots almost daily during their pregnancies. My own? Piece of cake.

There is nothing to worry about.

But there is indeed much to worry about when you think and overthink. By the time my first grand marked 3 years and my second marked 3 months, my anxiety had let up a good bit. Then a third pregnancy was announced and the anxiousness returned. I do hope that all goes well, of course. But...

There is nothing to worry about. So, why do I worry more than I used to? Why do we as older adults get all gitchy so easily? I got to digging.

In 2010 a pair of researchers from Texas and one from New York dived into the anxiety of older adults for an investigation that was published online in Aging and Mental Health.* Whether a grandchild was coming was not part of the study. Still, "worry content" as the doctors called it, was different. Why? If the older adult had been diagnosed earlier with a general anxiety disorder.

Bingo. That's me. It's not a debilitating anxiety and it's not been a lifelong thing. I blame teaching high school. But that's another story.

In conclusion I work hard at fighting off negative thoughts about the safety of my girls and their children. Watching the tribe expand is beautiful and bewitching at the same time.

Next: The Grandmother Badge -- We earned it while men were painting caves.

* Citation: "Worry content reported by older adults with and without generalized anxiety disorder" G. J. Diefenbach, M. A. Stanley & J. G. Beck, Pages 269-274 | Published online: 17 Jun 2010, tandfonline.com

Maribeth Jones
Maribeth Jones
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