I have a Wheel of Worry. It came into existence with the birth of my first child, and it started small. It spun to topics such as HIGH FEVER, WHY WON’T HE STOP CRYING? and STRANGE RASH ON BABY’S CHEST. I had more children, and the wheel grew. It got bigger as the children did, and its topics became more varied, ranging from to WHAT DID SHE JUST SWALLOW? and THEY’RE TOO QUIET UP THERE to CROSSING THE STREET and WILL THEY MAKE FRIENDS?

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.

By the time the last two children hit adolescence, the wheel was pretty substantial. It spun between KIDS LEARNING TO DRIVE, KIDS DRIVING ALONE, MY KIDS DRIVING THEIR FRIENDS, THEIR FRIENDS DRIVING MY KIDS, KIDS DRIVING TO A PARTY, KIDS DRIVING TO ATHENS … driving took up a full half of the wheel, with what was happening at the destinations occupying the other half.

As my kids got older and became more adventurous, the wheel began to spin to increasingly esoteric, but nevertheless valid, matters.

When the daughter was working in Nicaragua for a year and our weekly Skype conversations with her were regularly interrupted by the bat that lived in her house grazing her head, my wheel spun consistently between MALARIA and RABIES.

One son was studying in China and not advised until too late to get a particular inoculation, so the wheel rested for months on JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS. And naturally, the son with severe allergies to stinging insects loves to hike for weeks in remote wooded locations. Spin the wheel to ANAPHALECTIC SHOCK … spin again to BEAR ATTACKS. Both twins love bouldering and rock climbing, so FALLING OFF A CLIFF is a regular resting spot on the wheel.

The son who hitchhiked across Europe kept the wheel spinning to topics I can’t even bring myself to print.

Why do they do this to me?

Everyone from Christ to Buddha and from Bob Marley to Pinterest preaches about worry, and I hear the same “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” theme played regularly.

I don’t mean to discount any of them. And I may be teetering on sacrilege here, but I do imagine that the Blessed Mother worried a bit about Jesus. I think that all moms have a Wheel of Worry. I think it comes with the territory. You have a kid, you begin to worry.

Yet I will add that nothing compels me to prayer most sincerely and frequently and often than my Wheel of Worry. I will spin the wheel, and wherever it lands will be the focus of my prayer — and action — for the day.

If it satisfies the preachers and Rastafarians out there, I can call it “concern.” I have a healthy concern for my kids and their well-being, as we all do.

And when I’m in a calmer mood, I will spin my Carousel of Concern.

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