Control Freak

photo-8 I didn’t know I had a sick, twisted mind until I became a mother. As a parent, the world is all sharp edges, a place where everyone is running with scissors.

There are predators and diseases and freak accidents and bad drivers lurking around every corner.

In the animal kingdom, my child is the gazelle, lowering its graceful neck for a sip of water from the river, oblivious to the crocodile lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to spring.

I’ve definitely spent too much time imagining how I would defeat the bad guy who gets into our house/rescue both of them from our car that is quickly sinking in the water/cure them of an incurable disease/get them out of our fire engulfed home/evade the tractor trailer careening out of control on the highway.

I play out unimaginable, uncontrollable situations.

But we get daily reminders that we have no control.beau

Beau Biden is gone. This is not about politics, this is about a man who was my age, a man with a career and a wife and two kids. And he is gone.

Beau’s dad, Vice President Joe Biden, has been pummeled by life. I cannot fathom how a man who survived the loss of his wife and baby daughter must now bury another child. Joe couldn’t save them 43 years ago — he couldn’t stop that tractor trailer from crashing into their car as they were out Christmas shopping. He couldn’t save his boy who survived that car crash, when cancer invaded his brain all those decades later.

Joe had no choice. Neither do we.

The fascinating and terrifying part about getting older is that you suddenly get it.

You really do stop caring what people think of you (and you learn they weren’t thinking about you in the first place).

You see your parents in the twilight of their lives and you realize that they drove old cars so you could take piano and study abroad and go to college. They tucked away their own wishes, their own dreams, for you. And now you are doing the same. And you’re happy to do

We build our little lives, searching for the person who finds our mental imbalance charming, working to get our children to adulthood in one piece. We want to experience life, yet we want to insulate and protect ourselves against the bad parts, hoping that the things that happen to other people, pass over our house.

We try to control the uncontrollable.

The truth is, people get sick and homes get invaded and cars get crashed. Nations wage war and terrorists plot and children go hungry.

The truth is also that people fall in love and homes get built and your kid gets accepted to college. Soldiers come home and do gooders care for the poor and people work for peace.

Suffering is part of the package deal that is life.

It’s tempting to think, who would sign up for that?

Imagine if before you were born, God came to you and said,“Here’s the thing… You’re going to grow up and fall in love and have a family. But you will suffer. There will be some losses that are unbearable. You will think you can’t survive them. You will. You will experience amazing things in your life, and you will laugh and feel joy again.  But the love? Well  — the force of it will knock you to your knees. And it will make it all worth it. Do you still want to go?”

I can’t speak for our vice president, but I’m betting he would choose the same life again.

I would.

That’s the tragedy and the beauty of life.

It leaves us wanting more.












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17 comments on “Control Freak
  1. Jane says:

    Absolutely beautifully written, Jaye. You articulated my mental world of worry perfectly. I can only speak for myself and I’m choosing in over and over each day as the beauty in life far outweighs the pains…for me. Thank you for this great read and reminder…

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you, Jane. Cheers to fewer mental home invasions..and more worry free time! Thank you for reading..

  2. Cindy S says:

    Amazing words Jaye!

  3. Jaye, you write so beautifully. I can’t imagine Joe Biden’s pain. Beau seemed to be such a humble guy, and quite the servant leader. May we have more people like them both, and like you!

  4. Jill says:

    So beautifully written, one of your best. Xoxo
    I’ll keep it to read on the difficult days…and remind you to read it too…

  5. Jaye, you write Beautifully. Also, snakes.

  6. Richard Crabbe says:

    Damn, you good, girl.

  7. Terry Terrell says:

    Jaye, I always love your pieces, but this one is especially good, so obviously heartfelt. Thank you for it.

    I more or less tried to reach you last week. I’ve operated the LifeFlight emergency helicopter services here in Atlanta for more than thirty years now, and during Bruce Erion’s SkyCam era I flew as his backup pilot, with Bruce Mason out on the skids with a Betacam. Working with you more directly, I asked you to interview an old friend of mine, Sandy McLeod, who had been nominated for an Academy Award a decade or so ago, and you did a delightful job with presenting her to Atlanta Channel 11 viewers.

    The reason I tried to reach you on this occasion is that Don Thomas, the fellow who received a donated kidney last week from a Hooters waitress, is also a friend, and I thought his story, and, moreover, the story of Mariana, the Hooters server, were worth telling, and I thought that you might have been the perfect one to tell it. In any case I tried to phone Mason, but he was out on a shoot of some kind, and I ended up talking to Kerry Browning, whom I do not know, but who was friendly, interested and helpful. I mentioned your name, but I imagine he was working under considerable time presssure, and I’m not sure how the story was ultimately assigned.

    Thank you, though, for being who you are, and for doing what you do. I thought that WXIA ended up doing a pretty good job with the kidney transplant story even without you, though I’m sure we, and the viewers, missed you, and most of us don’t even know it!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thanks so much, Terry. I heard about the story after the fact. Thank you for telling us about it. And thanks for reading…

  8. Marianne Stack says:

    Thank you for your beautiful description of motherhood and life in general. Your piece is the perfect follow-up to yesterday’s heartbreaking Sheryl Sandberg post. Even though my husband died a dozen years ago, I cried as I read her post. Her grief brought my own pain back, unexpectedly, as so often happens. Your piece made me take a deep breath and smile. Thank you.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Marianne, thanks for writing. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband. Sheryl’s post yesterday was wrenching and beautiful. Thank you for kind words and thank you for reading. My best to you, j

  9. Sue says:

    Awesome piece Jaye! I love watching you on the morning show each morning while getting ready for work.

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