The Myth of the Blissful Mum
I wanted to be one of those relaxed and confident mums. The ones who wear nice dresses and high heels and make up. The ones who go to jazz concerts with their slumbering child in a sling. The ones who grow all their own vegetables and use them to make baby food instead of buying readily prepared stuff from the supermarket. The mums who bake wholesome muffins and do creative things with home made play-dough with their children.
I have no idea why I thought that being pregnant and becoming a mother would somehow change my entire personality. You are growing a baby, not a new brain! I have never gone to a jazz concert in my life and am even more unlikely to now I have a baby. I usually kill any plant I try to grow (except mint, thank you mint). And I very rarely cook or bake at all, let alone something fresh and nutritious.
So of course my outlook hasn’t changed and I haven’t become a wonderfully relaxed mum. What has instead happened is that becoming a parent has intensified who I really am, my core personality. And what I really am is someone who worries about everything. Everything.
Before my son was even conceived I was good at worrying. I would worry about the weather – if it was raining I would worry how to keep dry. If it was sunny I would worry about UV and melanoma. I would worry about the state of the world – the Global Financial Crisis, possible nuclear meltdowns and Kardashian wardrobe malfunctions are all things we are meant to be concerned about. I worried about when I would get pregnant and whether I would have bad morning sickness and whether I would end up with triplets.
Then when I fell pregnant, the enormity of it released more waves of worry. I worried whether I would be a good mum, what would happen to my relationship with my husband and whether I would be able to breastfeed.
And now I am mum to my gorgeous and amazing six-month-old boy I still worry. I would love to spend the day being awestruck at the miracle of life and grateful for having a healthy and happy baby but mainly fill my time with stupid pointless worry.
Sample of My Worries
Here are just a very small smidgen, a tiny percentage of the things I worry about. I worry about things in the NOW. Is he taking enough breast milk? When he was first born he lost a lot of weight and did not feed properly for a couple of months so didn’t gain back the weight he lost easily. He is still small for his age. I worry despite the fact that all the signs say he is fine – wet nappies, sleeping reasonably well and happy.
I worry that I don’t play and interact with him enough. I always forget to do baby massage and I have barely read to him at all, and when I do it is not usually a children’s book.
When he is in the car, I worry that I am a bad parent for wanting him to sleep and when he does sleep I worry that I have left him the car seat too long. Why is that bad again??
I am terrified that one night he won’t wake up. This is a horrible fear that no matter what I say to myself does not seem to go away. Does this improve with time? Maybe I should have bought a fancy gadget like a video monitor or one of those under-blankets that beep if there is no movement.
But my worry doesn’t end there. It extends to the not too distant future. I have just started solids and I worry that he will become constipated or become a fussy eater. I worry that he will choke on stuff, not just food but anything he finds on the floor. I am especially fearful I will leave one of the plug socket protectors out of its socket and he will find it and choke on that.
Then he will grow up and become a teenager and young adult. What if he gets bullied? Even worse, what if he is the bully? How will I help him not to be too shy but not too arrogant either? How will I react if he takes up risky activities like base-jumping, motorcycle racing or rock fishing?
I also worry about other things. I worry that I will lose or delete or somehow misplace all the thousands of photos and videos I have taken of my son. Even though I have backed them up and done a back up of the back up.
I worry that I overthink things.
I worry that I worry too much.
Where to From Here?
I wasn’t going to write this section but it may help other worriers out there to end on a good note. Try to worry about things that are within your realm of control. Even then realise that 99% of what you worry about will not happen and if it does you will handle it, or at least be able to ask for help. And although you know intellectually that we live in a beautiful country in the 21st century and have a lot to be thankful for, really try to embrace this knowledge. Feel it in your soul. Remind yourself every day about the good things that you are grateful for. Because as we all know what we focus on is what we get.