Just like most parents out there, ‘being worried’ is part of my job description and I can confidently say that I have gone above and beyond on that front. Looking back at the last few years, I realized how much energy I have spent on simply being anxious. Maybe that anxiety never really fades away and it is only natural to be concerned about the well-being and future of our children. But maybe we don’t need to agonize so much? These are a few scenarios when I wish I had just taken few deep breaths and some time to chillax:
- S/He is not a good eater. The most common advice given to all new parents is that your child will never starve himself and will eat when hungry. Yes, all that is well and true but I am an Indian mother at the end of the day and those of you who know Indians, will also know that our whole lives revolve around food. To us there are only a few things worse than a child with a food aversion. I’ll admit that I still to this day push my kids a teeny-weeny bit to eat a little more and there is an immense joy I get from it happening without my initiation.
- S/He is not a good sleeper. Thankfully this was a concern only when my kids were babies or else I would still be a walking zombie. I remember trying every trick in the handbook and longing for the day when my kids would sleep through the night so that I too could finally sleep through the night. They finally did but that didn’t stop me from waking up every few hours to check on them. I simply couldn’t get used to the unnerving quietness.
- Not spending enough time with the kids. I was consumed with guilt when at work about the time I was missing with my kids. Like most parents, I wanted to witness the first giggle, the first roll, the first step, the first word. I kept telling myself that quality time spent together was more important than quantity. I still believe this but finally gave in and left my job. A decision I will never regret. My reason for giving up on all those moments had to be really worth it and it just wasn’t for me.
- Am I setting the right example? On days the kids are at home, I get them to help me around the house and with errands outdoors. In between (if we are all still maintaining our cool) we do other fun things like paint flower pots, bake cupcakes, go on a bike ride. But it dawned on me that my daughter was modeling me more and more and it made me wonder if I was being a good role model. By not being a working mom, am I still teaching the concept self-reliance and that the world is her oyster? Or am I setting some stereotypical image in her mind? These thoughts were still hanging around at the back of my mind when I overheard a pretty amazing conversation between my kids. My son was asking my daughter why he has to go to school when I get to stay at home. My daughter explained to him, “She does work too; just different work. She takes care of us and makes sure our day is perfect”. I realized that if taking care of family is the value that my daughter is learning from me, maybe I am doing just fine.
- Someone is going to break a bone. My daughter has always been a daredevil but stays within her limits. My son on the other hand, has no limits. I have had my share of fractures, sprains and scrapes as a kid and know that is all part and parcel of being a child. But nevertheless, I spend a lot of time holding my breath and hoping no bones are broken before bedtime.
- My kids hate each other. Having kids close in age is exhausting and endearing. They always want the same thing regardless of whether it is a toy, pillow or food and neither gives in. Pushing, pulling, rolling around while screaming is a pretty common sight at my home. But then there are those special moments that make me believe in the unsaid love between siblings. Like when my daughter walks next to my son when coming down the stairs so that he doesn’t tumble or when my son brings out my daughter’s shoes and neatly lays it out for her every morning.
This list can go on and it probably will. Do we ever really stop worrying about our children even when they are grown adults? The challenges are different at every stage and the concerns as well. Feeling responsible for the lives of little ones cannot be easy but as parents we all do what works for us and what is best for us. The silver lining in all this is that in exchange for all this worrying, we learn about unconditional love.
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do”. – Benjamin Spock