Stephanie Pearce: Fear associated with parenthood
I was just talking to a new mom. Her baby is just a week old. She is tired; worried she’s not doing enough or not doing things correctly. She hadn’t been around many babies and hadn’t held one since she was 5 until her beautiful little girl was born. She’s scared. She loves this little girl and doesn’t want to do anything wrong.
Funny thing is, as a parent, those feelings never really go away. The reason for having them is different but the feelings are always there. You always wonder if you are doing enough or too much or if you did things correctly.
I remember when my son was just about 1 1/2 months old. I had a horrible time keeping him satisfied after feedings. I was breastfeeding and nothing seemed to go like I thought it should. It was not an easy process and it seemed all I did was feed him. I was so tired. He was frustrated. I went to a friend’s house and she said, “that boy needs some real food.” I told her the doctors say you shouldn’t start foods until after they are 4 to 6 months. She cooked up some mashed potatoes and fed him. He knew exactly what to do with those potatoes. He ate. After he ate, he slept the longest he had ever slept and so did I. So, I started feeding him a little rice cereal every day. I worried if it was the right thing to do.
Later, he was recommended for preschool at only 3 because he was so shy. He wouldn’t go anywhere where I wasn’t. At church, if I took him to the nursery and tried to leave him with the teachers there, he would scream and scream the entire time. So, I put him in preschool. I worried that it was too soon, but he did great.
Then as he grew, there was the hanging out with friends and the sleepovers. I wondered if I made the right decisions letting him go places. Middle school and high school decisions seemed harder than when he was littler. The parties and the nights out with the pickup made me sleepless. I worried and prayed and worried some more.
There were some bad decisions made, some lessons learned, some great decisions and accomplishments celebrated. My son now looks back on his childhood and gives me advice on what he thinks I should do with his little sister. Six years separates them and he is a very protective big brother. He doesn’t want to see her make the same mistakes or let anyone take advantage of her.
The best thing though is both of my kids have lived. I may not have made the best decisions all the time. I may not have done enough. I may have done too much. But my kids are both here, and I think they would say I’ve done a pretty good job.
So, enjoy your kids. Love them. Enjoy every stage. Know that the worry never goes away, but guess what — if you’re worrying, you’re caring and that makes you a pretty good parent.