Monday, 29 July 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I'll admit it: I'm a worrier. I'm the kind of person who, when something minor happens, mentally jumps ten steps ahead to the worst-case scenario. It's my way of managing expectations: if I imagine the worst, then what actually happens can't be all that bad....

But if I was a worrier before, then having kids opened up a whole new world of worries for me. Especially the first time around, I found I was constantly judging my decisions, questioning my instincts, filling my mind with self-doubt. 

Each new stage brought a fresh wave of worries. 

Infant: Is she gaining enough weight? Is it too early to start solids? Is she going to smother herself if I let her sleep with a stuffed animal?

Toddler: Should we take away her soother? Is she ever going to learn to potty-train? She's coughing a lot...should I take her to the doctor?

Preschooler: How do I deal with these temper tantrums? Why won't she listen? Am I doing the right thing by disciplining her?

Even with my second baby, I found myself worrying. Is she nursing well enough? Should I wake her up to feed her? Is it bad to swaddle her when she's more than three months old?

And then there are the ridiculous worries:

The baby's been sleeping for a long time...what if it's SIDS?
I got really mad at my eldest today—does she think I don't love her? 

Those irrational worries stem from my deepest, darkest fears. Fear of my inadequacy as a mother; fear of a cruel and dangerous world that, despite my best efforts, I can't control.

As a parent, one of the hardest things to do is to trust your instincts and your sound judgment. There's no instruction manual for motherhood, no magic set of rules or strategies that will make your kids turn out perfectly. And as much as you want to protect your children and keep them safe, you also have to give them space to grow and develop on their own.

So I'm trying, really trying, not to worry so much because it's pointless—and it's exhausting. Kids are all different, and there's no one on earth who knows my kids better than I do. That doesn't mean I won't get it wrong sometimes.

But it does mean that, most of the time, I'll get it right.


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