A Day in the Life of an Anxious Stepmother

How do you cope with worry over your children? I have always been a worst case scenario type of woman. I struggle with anxiety on a nearly daily basis. My step-son, however, has never evoked particular anxiety in me. He’s a sweet kid and funny to talk to. I enjoy spending time with him and we usually just hang out and play with legos or chase each other in the yard.

We don’t see each other often and I’ve never experienced him falling or injuring himself in one of the numerous ways I hear boys his age do. I had never truly feared for his safety until a couple of weeks ago.

My husband and I went for a day hike up in North Georgia. We only bother with our phones during a day hike if we are worried about getting lost. Usually, we keep them on airplane mode or even leave them in the car. We hiked probably five miles that day before heading back around dinner time.

My husband checked his phone for the first time as we approached the car. He had a text from his mom saying that his son had fallen and hit his head on the radiator and they were in the emergency room. That was all it took. The anxiety took over in a matter of minutes. I trained as an EMT, I know what head trauma can do. I have experience with brain injuries caused by concussions and now all of that prior knowledge is flooding into my thoughts. I need more information.

I urge my husband to call his mom since the message was an hour ago. He glances at me pointedly and calls her. No one answers. We call her a couple of more times, no response. I am flustered. Why would she only send that one text? Don’t they know we need to know how bad it is?!

My husband calls his dad who answers the phone with a smile in his voice, I am annoyed instead of relieved. How can he smile at a time like this? I must know how badly my step-son is hurt. I need all the information.

I start whispering commands to my husband about what to ask and when his dad says “well, he won’t need to have his head removed,” I start sputtering so loudly that my husband gets annoyed. It should be noted, he has not panicked at any point.

It turned out that everything was fine, there would be bruising and if he fell and hit his head again, he would need to see a doctor immediately. My husband’s parents scheduled a follow-up appointment and that was that. We called Darion later to check on him and he was excited to watch Doctor Who all night.

My panic was unwarranted and next time, I will try harder to keep my calm until I actually know what’s going on. Both for my own mental sake and the sake of those around me.

I only realized later how badly I had freaked out and it made me think about those of you who do this full time. I’m deeply impressed with the mental strength and fortitude is takes to be a parent.

Mental health is so important and you must have some amazing coping mechanisms.

Please know, I see you holding that crying baby and calmly catching your toddler before she can hit the ground again as she explores the sidewalk, and I am impressed. I know you’re working so hard to keep everything balanced and raise beautiful children and I want to recognize you for that and tell you that we will keep supporting you the best we can.

I would love to hear from you guys!

Tell me your stories of panic-inducing moments or drop tips in the comments about how you support your mental health as a parent or caregiver.

About the Author

Clara is a lifelong writer who recently became stepmom to an energetic seven-year-old boy. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Alabama and has written on a variety of subjects including social issues, politics, and music. A yoga practitioner and foodie with a deep passion for health and wellness, she seeks to use her education and experience to help individuals create better lives for themselves and their children. Clara is currently living in Atlanta with her husband and her 80lb ridgeback mix. Clara is a member of the PedSafe Team


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