24 September 2007

Woman to Woman: Facing your parenting fears

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It's interesting how intimidating parenthood can be. I mean, how much trouble can these little people really cause?

I remember being afraid to leave the hospital with my first child. Breastfeeding alone had me completely flustered, and I'd grip my husband's hand every time this teeny little mouth would latch on to me. And then again when my mother left, after taking care of me, the baby, my husband and my apartment for 10 days, I was afraid. How on earth was I going to do this?

As the years have passed and more children have joined our family, I wish I could say that all the fear has left me. It hasn't. Just tonight as I laid the last child down to sleep, I thought "Phew, I made it through another day." Today, I forgot to send my son's homework back to school with him. Also, an apple for his class project. I prayed all day long that my 14 month old would take a decent nap (she's teething) because I didn't feel confident that I could get through the second half of the day without some kind of a breather. I find my daughter's math homework (she's in 3rd grade) perplexing, I hope I'll remember to wash the jam off their faces before they leave the house, and if I've not run so late that they didn't get a sack lunch - I am relieved.

They say dogs can smell fear. Well, I think children can, too.

From the time they are 20 inches long they can tell what you're thinking and feeling. I think I've gotten the baby thing down. (That's why I keep having them. :) I feel very, VERY competent calming a fussy baby. I vividly remember watching my mother-in-law with one of my colicky infants. She took him into her arms with such surety. And rather than get flustered by his cries, nervously rambling or throwing gas drops at him (not that I ever did that, lol) she just gently swayed him and softly sang him a song. At first I thought "Come on, he can't even hear you!" But it totally worked. He could sense that she not only knew what she was doing, but she KNEW she knew what she was doing. And that was a lesson to me. (Do not let the 20 inch little people intimidate you! Lol.)

Now, the 32 inch and up little people still get the best of me sometimes. Especially out in public. But I am getting better at that, too. However, anywhere we go there is a potential risk that I will lose control of them. They're that unpredictable. (Aren't they all? And have you noticed how the world transforms into this mecca of testing grounds once you've got a kid? I never got nervous eating out before I had a 2 year old that could not master a chair with no restraining devices.)

The first time I took all 4 kids out by myself (and the Sasha was barely 2 months old) I was sweating BULLETS I tell you. Oh my gosh the sweet feeling of relief that washed over me as I exited the check-out line with 4 smiling faces was like none other. And a few women that I passed on my way out of the store said ego boosting things, like "You're amazing." and "You're so brave!" And I thought "Here, here! I am not afraid!"

Of course there are also the fears I have yet to encounter, but know I will have to face. Bigger fears like sending my children off to junior high where the other kids will be pressuring them to grow up too fast, shut themselves off from me, and make poor decisions. Fears like letting them drive, and date and move away for college. And I know they will be watching me as they go through these things, to see how confident I am in them, and therefore myself as a parent.

What are your apprehensions? Getting through church without a meltdown perhaps? Or discussing serious issues with your teenagers? Life can be pretty tricky when you're raising a family. So please share your thoughts - funny stories, clever anecdotes, and pearls of wisdom are all welcome. If you'll link up below and leave a comment, my co-host Morning Glory and I will stop by and read what you have to say!


Morning Glory said...

This was so nicely said. I could actually see in my mind your mother-in-law cradling and singing softly. Babies just know, don't they? I think they feel the vibration of the voice inside while their little heads are pressed closely to grandma's heart.

Lucy said...

Lei, the 20 inch scare me still. It's not the calming but the thought that I am the sole person in the world that can fulfill its needs. So much responsibility frightens me. Now, the older ones...there's less need so I'm much more comfortable there.

Beautifully put, as usual.

Carrie said...

This was a great post! Perfectly put in every way!

I'm going to need to do this Woman to Woman but I'm going to be a little late!

Angela said...

An excellent post, with wonderful expressions of feelings in all areas. You are so inspiring to everyone, Lei!

Have a wonderful day filled with love and laughter!


Anonymous said...

great post!! Mine is up

An Ordinary Mom said...

I remember my own fear when I left the hospital with my first child. I was thinking, what have I done?!?!

Every day I pray for wisdom to know how to raise these children I have been blessed with.

Cmommy said...

I wrote a post and then jumped over to see what the topic was today--I think my post touches on the subject. Not a home run, but at least a base hit!

Great thoughts, Lei!

Yvonne said...

Lei, This was so great. I think you are absolutely right that babies sense when we are nervous.

I always enjoy what you right. Thank you for sharing.

Lee said...

First Lei, sorry I missed the last couple.. I meant to join in!! So I am back.

You are so right those 20 inch babies can tell there is fear.. but they are so scary!! I was good with my own, but others I don't know what to do with. Great post!

Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Macy said...

I thought I would be scared of the 20 inchers, but it has turned out okay. I wasn't much of a baby holder when I encountered other people's babies, so I thought I wouldn't know what to do. I think I've got it figured out now.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

Thank you for this post. You put my feelings down exactly on how nervous I get going out in public, or how guilty I feel if I don't say the right thing or react the right way in the home. It's so true how little ones read us... I hope my anxiety to be a good mom can maybe effect him positively.

It's hard to express all this, sorry for the jumble. Just know you are putting me at ease with this post. I am glad I am not alone with my worries of what is to come today or 10 years from today.

CHEL said...

I'm right there with you. My 8 year was the PERFECT baby, 2 year old.. and to this day is perfect. Now my 2 year old was a perfect baby, but his 2 year old stage is a tough one!
I think when they start getting older and pushing us away will be the toughest by far.

utmommy said...

As a parent I think the fears never end. I just hope that I can do the best that I know how and that my kids will turn out okay.

Frog Thinks said...

You know... the only one I can think of doesn't really make sense, but I suppose it does. I have a real fear of my passing away before he's out of high school... I have only one, and he's a good, good kid. No issues that are major, and nothing a look doesn't cure. Though the tears come for us both- I feel very blessed to have what I consider a perfect parenting life right now.

That being said, I worry about him going to junior high- but it' not a fear... just need to make sure I work doubly hard to stay on top of what I know he's hearing/seeing.