How Do Parents Today Maintain Their Sanity Despite the Worries of the World by Jean Marie Keenan-Johnston

Halloween night, I sat by my husband as he checked my children’s candy piece by piece.  I’ll admit that there was a combination of thoughts going through my head at the time.  Some included memories of my own childhood, my brother and I sitting on the living room floor beside my father as he dumped our bags and sifted through the piles of candy piece by piece just as I was watching my husband doing with our children.  My girls had the same reactions my brother and I had when the select few were found with questionable wrappers and put aside for the trash…we were too young to truly understand our parents’ reasons behind my father’s actions, our only concern being that total number of pieces in our stash getting smaller as we watched the pile of questionable candies getting larger.  Even though there were a few pieces of candy discarded every year, we didn’t really find anything that would be considered “dangerous”, just pieces with wrappers that had probably been accidentally ripped or other things like apples from well-meaning neighbors that my parents didn’t want to tempt fate by keeping when my brother or I couldn’t ease their fears by being able to name who exactly gave us those treats.  

I probably went trick-or-treating for about ten or so years, so when you combine that with the years I’ve taken my own children, we have about a total of fifteen years of trick-or-treating without incident…leading to the other feelings I was experiencing the other night.  I hate to admit it because it makes me feel a bit irresponsible, but it was all those “safe” years that made me wonder if we needed to be so severely diligent.  I would never completely forego checking their Halloween stash, but I was starting to feel like maybe a quick  look over the pile was enough rather than studying each piece with such diligence.

Today I was EXTREMELY grateful we followed our yearly routine so vigilantly.  After logging onto Facebook, there it was, the headline I hadn’t expected to read noting an incident at a town not far from where I grew up and actually where I had once taught for a few years…”Razor Blade Found in Candy.”  Wow.  Thoughts and emotions of all types scrambled through my mind…Were there others?  What type of crazy person thinks to do something like this?  Was it someone who truly wanted to hurt somebody or was it some adolescent who thought he was being funny and didn’t think before he acted?  All questions I’ll never learn the answers to, but worries my mind wished it could answer nonetheless.  Yet another worry of our modern world this mother has added to her list of concerns as she hopes and prays she’ll be able to keep her little ones happy and safe.

I know I wrote about a similar topic in September.  I don’t want to give people the idea that I’m the type of parent who is plagued by constant, severe anxiety that has taken over my life as I continuously lose sleep worrying about the safety of my family.  While it would make sense to be a little anxious…after all, I’ve dealt with two complicated pregnancies, the first of which I was told could end up with a baby with a one in four chance of having Down Syndrome, as well as years of searching for answers for my “mystery illnesses” and a cancer diagnosis a month before my 40th birthday, all experiences that could understandably lead to a greater than normal amount of anxiety to contend with…I do work my hardest to live life with a more positive outlook, one that I feel is more useful than needlessly worrying about the unknown.  I do, however, have some days when I feel like it’s a bit harder to live life with a calmer frame of mind.  As much as I’d like to be an educated citizen, I feel like I’m at my best when I stay away from the news more often than not.  Another way I feel better is to actually work toward being prepared to handle what life might throw at us, those “surprise” hands you don’t feel will ever be dealt to you.  I’m not turning into a dedicated “prepper” like those I read about or see on TV, but I do sleep a bit more soundly knowing I’m working toward storing all the items on those emergency checklists the government recommends we all follow.  Lastly, I feel like getting a good handle on my fibromyalgia and RA symptoms and finding ways to live life with less chaos because of those symptoms helps tremendously!  If I’m successful tackling the obstacles life has already put in my way, I’m sure to meet other challenges yet to come with confidence.  And I believe creating peace and harmony in my life will attract more of the same.  So there’s how I’m handling the current worries of the world as well as the newer ones cropping up every day.  If any parents out there have other tricks they care to share, please feel free!

These days as parents debate the potential horrors of the flu vaccine, as Ebola tries to pass over nations’ borders, as Election Day draws near and people wonder if our current leaders are bringing us closer to chaos