There are two quotes about mothering that have stuck with me since the moment I heard them. One is the Jewish proverb, “God could not be everywhere and therefore He created mothers.”
The other is: “…Having a child is to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Dads need to know that both are true. And they’re at the heart of a mother’s truth: We worry. It’s our job. We grew these children, your children, inside of our bodies. Carried them months and months before you were able to. We were responsible for eating right, making sacrifices so they could be healthy. And even for mothers who didn’t carry their babies or birth their children, these quotes tap into the emotional heart of mothering.
When our babies are up all night, crying and won’t sleep, we worry. When it’s cold outside and our kids leave for school without wearing a coat, we worry. And when they’re in their room with the door shut—again—not talking, we worry. Why? Because we know God can’t be everywhere. And because our hearts now walk—and often run—outside of our body. The body that carried them, where we could keep them safe. That was when we were in control.
We are no longer in control.
That is why we worry.
Dads, we want you to know that worrying is what we moms do. We’re hardwired to. Don’t belittle it or dismiss it. Worry is what drives us to pace the room at 3 a.m. with the baby, pressing our lips to their forehead to see if there’s a fever. Worry is what gets us to stay on top of the weather so we can remind them 100 times to wear a coat. And worry is what drives us to sit outside of our child’s room, passing notes under the door so they know we’re here when they’re ready to talk. Worry is what drives us to break the bond of privacy by snooping on their Facebook, or to try to catch a glimpse of their phone as they text. To get a little information that we then share with you. So you don’t worry.
“I never worry about action,” Winston Churchill said, “but only about inaction.” Inaction is not a mother’s way. Worry drives us into action. And it drives us to be the best advocates, protectors, and cheerleaders we can be for our children.
That’s what moms want you to know.
Ellen has two sons and is a creative director and copywriter in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.