Parenting Fears And Reality Checks

Parenting is a cacophony of emotions. When you’re not thoroughly worn out from sleepless nights, exhausted from good parenting days, or simply just trying to make it through, there’s always something to worry about. Someone you know lost a child, someone in your area had a child go missing, someone who knows someone who was a really good parent ended up with a junkie-teen. Just like people love to share a terrible birth story, and tend to shun those who had wonderful birth stories, everyone loves to share the bad stories about what happened to someone else, or how another child turned out, and it doesn’t really matter – to some extent – how they were parented, it’s normally the mother’s fault.

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

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It’s the fear of these things that make parents so susceptible to marketing, spending (often wasting) money on the latest gadgets and basically living our lives doing everything we can to prevent something bad, and encourage something good happening to the little people entrusted to us.

The scary thing though? Like most of us, I know this, but I still have three particular fears where my two little girls are concerned:

In no particular order, there’s the fear of death, kidnapping and failure.

cuddlesMost of us know someone who has lost a baby – born or unborn – or a child. I never knew how ‘common’ infant loss was till I became a mother myself. And then, because Ameli’s birth was such an amazing, enriching and empowering experience, I was terrified when Aviya’s turn came. For  months I really worried, almost believed that I would never get to hold her alive. I was so worried something was going to go wrong in her birth. I mean, what are the chances that I could be so blessed, twice.

And now, even though I am a confident second time mother, and even though I am confident and relatively experienced in my use of homoeopathic and herbal remedies over conventional medicines for most of the girls’ minor ailments, when Aviya, specifically, gets ill, this niggely, horrible voice in the back of my head forces me to question myself, reminding me of that ‘feeling’. It takes a lot of pulling myself together to trust my intuition as much with this lovely second child of mine.

While many of us know someone who has been touched by the loss of a child, very few of us – me included – knows personally someone who has had a child kidnapped. And yet, it’s probably one of the biggest fears a parent faces. I can’t imagine how parents who have lost a child this way go on. I can’t imagine the horror. And yet, the statistics on ‘stranger danger‘ and someone doing something to our children are so different to what our fears justify.

stranger dangerIf you’re a parent who lives in the shadow of this fear, I highly recommend Sue Palmer’s book, Toxic Childhood (US Link). It highlights how rare something like a stranger kidnapping really is, but how, because we see the lost and forlorn little face, and the obviously heartbroken parents in our living room, on repeat, day after day after day, it imprints on our brains to the point that we start almost identifying each replay as a new occurrence.  (I actually recommend this book for a ton of other reasons too, it doesn’t make you feel guilty, but does encourage you to see a lot of reality in parenting and child raising. It’s one of my top three parenting book recommendations!)

Failure. Failure is a big one, and we all get it from the day our babies are conceived. Didn’t have a natural birth? Will I be able to bond with my child? Didn’t breastfeed? You and your child will probably both die of cancer. Didn’t babywear? Your poor child will lag behind in literacy for, like, ever. Didn’t co-sleep? Poor kid will have intimacy issues for the rest of their lives. You sent them to nursery school for four hours a week? Oh, the drama. Didn’t send them to a Montessori/Steiner/Waldorf/Forest school?  What kind of parent are you!?

Pretty much everything we do is wrong to someone. Praise your kids? Wrong. Don’t praise your kids? Wrong. Send them to school? Wrong. Keep them at home? Wrong . Feed them grass-fed meat? Wrong. Feed them no meat? Wrong. Make everything from scratch? Did you sprout the grains first? Well… did you?

I think a lot of parenting and enjoying parenting comes down to three things:

Let go – of the things you can’t control. 

Be realistic – in accordance to what’s real, your circumstances and what you can really do

Trust your instinct listen to your child, listen to the voice inside you, and when you’re confident in your choices, no one can make you feel judged. And when you’re not confident, do your own research. 

If you can – if I can – let go of things I don’t control, be realistic about my limitations and abilities, circumstances and finances, and trust that everything I do is for the best of my children and our family, the fears are a lot easier to quell, and motherhood is a much more fulfilling, enjoyable ride.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):

  • When Parents’ Fears Escalate — If we didn’t self-doubt, we probably wouldn’t care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama’s family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son’s future?
  • I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household – that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent – that most parents share – looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear…
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren’t anywhere near as scary as she’d thought.
  • Don’t fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me… — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.


 disclaimer for links

Let Me Hold Your Hand

How long will it be, till you no longer reach for my hand?
How long until dinosaurs and fairies no longer roam
and you can face everything you fear on your own?

How many more days do I have, picking dandelions with you?
Answering a ceaseless stream of why’s?
‘fore you don’t need my answers at all?20130425-173106.jpg

When will you stop looking to me for all the new things you see?
How long do I have before either I no longer know
or you at least doubt that I do?

How many more days can I keep you playing, in the garden, with frogs,
excited by ‘the most amazing creatures’, common garden bugs
and gross-me-out slugs?

How much time do I have left, to view the world through your eyes?
To see the magical, the beautiful, the every day
in your incredibly sensory way?

How many more days, because its passing too soon, in whirlwinds and torrents and days come to pass.
Hold on for a moment, you’re growing too fast, let me drink it all in, let me sip up my fill
then let me hold your hand, while you allow me to still.

Life, with child – emotionally speaking

The last two weeks have been… surreal. I can’t think of any other way to describe it, really.

The first week passed in a strange sort of haze.  We went to sleep around 06:00 the day Ameli was born, and I slept with her next to me on one side, Martin on the other. I woke up around 10:00 and lay staring at my little girl for a while. It didn’t seem real, yet it seemed the most natural and obvious thing in my life.  I couldn’t begin to break down the week that followed. I know that Martin was wonderful with his daughter, and I know that my parents were so supportive. I know that meals appeared in front of me a number of times a day and that I’ve never had so many emails and text messages in one week, yet I don’t think I’ve replied to half of them, cause I don’t remember who I’ve contacted or not.  I know that we bathed Ameli in a baby bath on day three (leaving the vernix on her to protect her skin as long as possible) and that having my mom around to help with the practicalities was the biggest blessing to us.  When we were exhausted and just needed more sleep we were able to hand Ameli to my folks and they looked after her, they made sure we ate, had clean clothes and bedding and didn’t have to think about dishes.

My sister and her boyfriend were with us for Ameli’s first three days, and they were amazing with her. Deshaine went shopping for some ‘girlie’ clothes on the Monday and Ameli’s been wearing them most of the time – just as well as everything else we had was way too big for her!

Holding on to Oupa

I still find myself staring at her, just watching her sleep. Or holding her hand, and just holding it. I can’t believe, sometimes , the beautiful baby we made.

The most amazing thing for me has been how natural everything has been. I was worried, before her birth, that I wouldn’t know what to do with her and there’s still a lot I’m totally lost in, but there’s so much that has come naturally. When she cries, I have a pretty good idea of why and I can fix it, I know how to hold her, change her, look after her, and it’s not been an effort. From the first time I held her, I’ve known her. That’s a beautiful thing. There are practical things, like swaddling, that I needed help with, but there’s a deeper level to this parenting thing and that, to me, came naturally.

I also can’t believe that anyone can do this alone. Good heavens. Having a young baby is hard work! She sleeps really well during the day, but even if she sleeps for a few hours, I seem to have no time for anything else.  It’s washing baby clothes, or washing the baby or expressing milk or feeding and it’s a never ending cycle! No sooner has she fed than she needs changing, and so it goes. I’m really lucky to have Martin at home a lot at the moment, as at least I can have a shower, or make a cup of coffee. Yesterday Martin was out for the day and it was only at 18:00 that I realised I hadn’t been to the loo since just after waking up!

I don’t know how single or very young parents do it. I take my hat off to them because they are stronger people than I am.  That said, I love this little girl.

Kangaroo Care - Skin to Skin

Every now and then though, I feel totally awed. I sometimes feel completely bowled over by her, she’s so amazing, a whole person in a tiny body, and I’m knocked out by how much I love her.  It struck me today that biology is amazing, and the whole of human creation, Divine. As a busy, intelligent woman, pre baby, it makes sense to me that logically speaking, spending five or six hours a day breastfeeding could become a boring and frustrating activity, yet feeding releases the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, so that I spend most of that time just stroking or looking at my daughter, feeling the awe, and falling deeper and deeper in love with her.

Someone asked me how my life has changed, and although apart from not going to work I don’t really feel that anything has changed, I guess the truth is everything has changed, because I barely recall a life before Ameli.  In fact, Martin was looking for some money and I told him to look in my handbag. He came back with the cash and said “I guess you know life has changed forever when you carry a nappy in your handbag.” It’s true, I suppose. And it’s totally worth it. When her eyes meet mine, when her hand grips my finger, when she falls asleep on my chest, when she cries and picking her up soothes her… it’s worth it. Totally.