Parenting brings anxiety, and I would think it takes shape in different forms as the child ages. At the newborn and infant stage, it looks like, “Is my child healthy? Is he on track for his milestones? Will SIDS strike?” I imagine at the toddler stage it’s incarnated as, “Is my home a deathtrap for my child? Will he toddle off with a stranger? Am I preparing him enough for school?” And so on and so forth.
This means that I was due for a heart attack by the end of 2013. I’m an anxious person by nature, so much so that I consulted a specialist before getting pregnant to see if medication would be beneficial. She told me that some patients’ anxiety actually improves with pregnancy. At the time I remember thinking I was the last person that would happen to. Although I decided to forgo medication then, I fully expected to be back in her office mid-pregnancy for a prescription.
Except she was right. I mellowed out considerably during my pregnancy with Rowan. What’s even weirder is that the trend is continuing four months post-delivery. Sure, I worry about big-picture stuff that will probably never come to pass, such as my son hating me or becoming a serial killer, thief, or terrorist. But the day-to-day things that the old Charli would lose sleep over? Barely on my radar.
What I knew but didn’t believe pre-Rowan is that there’s only so much in my control – like the parenting choices I make – and the rest I will learn to handle if or when it occurs. Because what good does it do if I worry about things that haven’t happened yet? Even if they do happen, I’d still stress out then, so premature worrying won’t magically make it better in the future. The only thing it does is make me more anxious in the moment and create a negative environment for my son.
I’ve also learned two new things in my short time as a mom:
- I will second-guess most of my parenting decisions, so it’s better to stick with my instincts and not apologize for them. So what if “experts” says nursing my child to sleep is a huge mistake? It works for us, and since the experts don’t live my life, they don’t get a say.
- Children pick up on our energy. When I’m nervous or anxious in a social situation, Rowan tends to get more fussy and inconsolable (much like his mother). But when I’m confident and calm, he tends to relax and enjoy himself more.
Knowing these truths have made my life so much simpler and happier. I’m continually amazed at how much my son has taught me in his short time here, and I can only imagine what I’ll continue to learn as he grows. I know I can return the favor when I lead by example. Instead of knowing me as the anxiety-driven, Type A wacko I used to be, he can learn from the calmer, Type A wacko I’ve become. That probably won’t lead to him being a criminal …