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So I Fret. I’m Not Gonna Worry About It.

It’s dark outside, not yet morning, but I slip from my bed, tip-toe to the bathroom and down the stairs. I spent the last five hours in a restless doze, waking every half hour or so and checking the clock. I had gone to bed at 12:30 am, bleary-eyed after a long day racing with the kids and then four hours straight sitting in front of the computer writing, discarding, writing, discarding. I’m anxious. I have an unfinished essay on my mind; and because of it I can’t sleep. For hours I lay there, snuggled under covers, tossing and turning, ideas popping in and out of my head as I unsuccessfully try to think myself into unconsciousness. I jump up with a start when I realize I am not alone; there’s one person at this very moment, in another town, doing the exact same thing I am. My mother.

It’s not for the same reasons, of course, but my mother is someone who when something is on her mind, it goes straight to her heart.

Often, we’ll speak and the conversation will go something like this,

Her, nervous and anxious – “I couldn’t sleep again last night.”

Me, nibbling on snacks, going through mail, half-listening – “Oh no. What now?”

“I’m worried I did the wrong thing about…”

Now here you could insert almost anything from “I cut my hair too short” to “I wish I had been a better mom.” My mother has the unique capacity to fret over everything in her life, big and small, no matter if it happened that day or 30 years ago. She can’t let it go and will worry herself until a new worry emerges to supersede it.

This is your brain on fret – It glows!

When my brother bought a new house, she worried if it was the right one. Then she worried that it was the wrong one. She worried about what color they’d paint it. And she worried about when they’d paint. Then she worried about the paint. Once it was done, she worried if it was the right color. She didn’t sleep for months over that.

I am the calm one, reminding her to relax. Trying to focus her on the important things or bring her around to the positive side. I like to think I keep it all in perspective. I tell myself I’m not crazy like that, yet here I am, typing out my thoughts while my body begs for sleep. I can’t seem to rest till it’s done. It hits me that all the women on my side are fretters to some degree. My grandmother was a fretter and my aunt is a fretter as well. My cousins, although it’s been diluted through the years, are little fretters. Maybe, it’s part of me, passed down like my green eyes and beyond my control. How aggravating.

From the dark silence of my sleeping house, my four year-old calls out and I race with soft feet up the stairs to his room. “Mama,” he says drowsily, “sleep with me.” I place my head down on the pillow and feel my tension lift as his little hands pull me closer to snuggle. Wait, maybe it doesn’t  run in the family. I can let things go and relax. I can fight the fret! I breathe in the sweet scent of my son’s curly mop. As I drift off, my brain no longer running but slowing to a walk,  my last thought as I flutter on the edge of consciousness is that this would make a great ending to my essay.

For awesome reading, writing and bloggers, check out YeahWrite…

About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

42 responses »


    Liked it a lot.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. great! Aren’t we all fretters? You brought the reader into your brain which was awesome and I felt tired with you when you put your head down at the end.

  3. You were right – the perfect ending to a lovely essay. And a great beginning and middle and so what! 😉 I identify completely with your mom and am learning to be more like you – able to let go and enjoy. Thank you for sharing how it’s done. My girls are at school now but I’m longing for a sleepy hug and cuddle – nothing better. Well done!

    • thank you!! my mom called and asked if this was about our conversation last night and i was like, uh no, wrote this last week! stuff just drives her crazy and she can’t stop. i’m definitely better – usually. 🙂

  4. I’m a fretter, so I could really relate to this. I’m forever working on letting things go. And I know my worry has been passed down to me, too.
    I swear there is nothing as sweet as a sleeping or snuggly child to de-stress you.
    Lovely post. Here’s to fighting the fret!
    (Love the glow of the fretting brain!)

  5. So envious of your talent for relaxing; I’m a fretter and I know I drive my loved ones crazy!

  6. I love your writing style, you should write books!

  7. This was very well done. It’s my mother-in-law that’s the fretter like this … and she has read every one of my blog posts. Soon she’s going to go into cardiac arrest over something new she discovers over there. I love that your child saved you from your fretting and asked you to snuggle up. Children are such god sends, reminding us what is really important. I really enjoyed this post.

    • my mother called first thing!! but she was okay with it. i see her and really have worked hard to keep all in perspective. there’s nothing a good snuggle can’t cure.. 🙂

  8. Alisa – great read!

  9. I remember how peaceful and easy to drift off it would be when I curled up with one of my kids. I don’t think we are hereditarily hard wired for fretfulness but being a mom…it just comes out sometimes. I don’t know why I have this as a note on my phone but I copied it from somewhere…”shut the worry switch off.” I really liked this post.

  10. Ok this is my favorite yet. I am a total fretter like my mom. It’s so annoying. I love how the connection with your son broke the spell. So lovely.

    • thank you!! i so appreciate!
      my mom is really bad – and over crazy things – like is hair too short, but also over the big things. she doesn’t give herself a break. it’s exhausting. but hey, she’s my sane parent, so tolerate and appreciate. 😉
      nothing better then snuggles.

  11. Oh I hear you! I am an unbelievable worrier as well. So glad you do have an outlet, or what would happen?! Let’s worry about that. 🙂

  12. I know I’m going to turn into my mother one day. It’s inevitable.

  13. Is your mother my mother-in-law? She’s that level of fretter. Your ending was perfect.

  14. Love reading your posts! Keep it up…THESE comments are the ones you listen to, not those j****s! 🙂

  15. nothing wrong to be like your mom, two beautiful worriers.,

  16. A post near and dear to me.

    I am the family fretter. My Dad was always the person standing behind me telling me to quit wasting my worry.

    I hate the worry, I hate the fretting. I’m not sure how to let it go though, beyond huggging my kid and my cat.

  17. Sleep with me. I get that every night. It’s hard to accommodate but precious since it’s fleeting. Glad you could let your fret go!

  18. I know that my kids slap me upside the head with the relax thing, so I have been seen to call one of them over when I’m starting to work myself up and steal a quick snuggle from them. It’s best with my son because he still carries his newborn scent with him at seven. And smelling him makes me high on oxytocin, LOL!

  19. I really loved this one!! ❤

  20. I feel you, mama. I totally feel you. I love that your little guy comforted you and helped you find sleep. Nice of him to return the favor, eh?

    Great ending — even if it did come at the expense of some much-needed ZZZZZs.

  21. I never fretted until I became a mother. Now I fret, but mostly about my son. I love that your son calls you to sleep with him. Mine still calls me nightly to say he just wanted me. I jump up and run too. I enjoyed this.

  22. Fretting is exhausting. Sounds like you found the perfect remedy for it though 🙂

  23. I liked how you nestled in your son’s hair. So sweet. And perfectly ended.

  24. Right, so I’ve grown up hearing from my family, but Only my family, Nobody else to “don’t fret.” I’m 46 years old and I’ve never heard anyone use that word! Thanks for helping me keep it alive…


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