I realized recently that I have long felt like I need to be anxious or stressed about something to demonstrate, to myself or to others, that I care about it. I worried somehow that if I didn’t worry, it meant I was shallow or uncaring.

This idea is something that had been slowly emerging from the sand in my brain for many months. It became more apparent during Zoe’s recent spate of separation anxiety, which manifested itself in her crying every day when I left her at school or day care. The freaking out at school particularly unnerved me because she had been happily scampering off to play in her classroom every school day for two years, and the reluctance to unglue herself from my leg seemed rather sudden and confusing. Of course many many moms and even the director of the preschool assured me that this behavior was perfectly normal and that kids who are almost three can go through a new phase of separation anxiety, even though I might have thought we were long done with all that.

But none of the consolation consoled me. For several weeks after I dropped Zoe off and she was crying I felt like my day (or at least my morning) was wrecked. I couldn’t concentrate. I just worried that she was unhappy, that I had made a bad decision somehow (for working? for not staying at home with her, which is completely financially implausible for our family? by choosing the wrong daycare provider or preschool? by saying or doing the wrong thing when I left her?) None of these things seemed likely or accurate. I knew I hadn’t actually done something wrong. I knew that typically after I left she was fine within minutes or seconds. But I couldn’t shake this overdeveloped feeling of worry/guilt/concern. Somehow I felt like if I wasn’t upset about Zoe getting upset, I wasn’t a good mom, or I didn’t love her enough. Which is absurd. I know I’m a great mom and I know I love my daughter with all my heart. So who am I trying to impress by worrying?

I don’t think anyone will think better of me for feeling wrecked. I know I don’t feel any better. So I’m done with that. I’m leaving it behind. I have other things to worry about.