Confession: When we left the hospital with our newborn son, I was convinced we were on the road to a royal mess up. How anyone thought we were capable of raising a baby – a living, breathing, completely-dependent-on-us-for-survival person – was insanity. There was so much we didn’t know. So much that could happen. What if I dropped him on his head? What if he won’t eat and I don’t know he’s not eating and he slowly starves? What if someone breathes a horrible virus onto his fragile newborn face? And OMG, SIDS. Don’t even get me started on SIDS. Even the most basic tasks (snapping his car seat in for a drive to the pediatrician, showering without a spontaneous baby combustion) terrified me. I was a classic rookie mom.
But a few weeks later after the postpartum hormone surge subsided, I realized that I had figured a few things out. In fact, I had figured a lot of things out. Changing diapers was a breeze. Nursing became more natural. And showering, well, let’s just say we all adjusted to a new standard of beauty (read: messy buns, lots and lots of messy buns).
Now I’m a mom of a 4-year old. And I still worry. Is he in the right preschool? Is he developing the right skills at the right time? Is he kind? Is he happy? It’s enough to make a mama’s head spin. And then it hit me: None of my worries or fears has ever amounted to anything. Our son is healthy, happy and caring. He’s loved. And we have never had reason to question the food on our table or the roof above our heads.
And so I’ve made a decision: I’m not going to worry any more. Or at least I’m going to try not to worry. And I’d love for you, fellow mamas of healthy, happy kids, to stop worrying too. Some day soon our kids will be out on their own, contributing to the world in their wonderful and unique ways. So let’s all take a deep breath in and try to let go of just a few of our worries. Need help? You’re in luck. Here are a few you can ditch right now:
- Your child will sleep through the night. Someday.
It’s the question on the tip of every mama’s tongue: “When will my baby/toddler/preschooler sleep through the night in his own bed?” While there’s no magic formula or age, I promise that someday your child will go to bed at bedtime and sleep through the night until morning. You’ll likely even have to make loud noises and drag their sleepy bodies from their beds in order to start the day at some point. It may not be tonight. It may not be next week. But it will happen.
- He won’t always have a pacifier.
How many 8-year olds have you seen with a nuk? Exactly.
- You won’t always have to share your bed with a pint-sized interloper.
We had an amazing sleeper. Thirteen hours a night with nary a peep. And then it happened: he discovered that he could climb out of his bed and into ours. Without warning, our heads became pillows and our backs turned into tracks for his sleepy foot races. We struggle to sleep on the three inches of space his 33-pound frame leaves us. But as exhausting as it is right now, I know that no teenage boy fancies a midnight snuggle with his mommy and daddy. Until then I think I’ll just deal with being a human body pillow.
- He won’t poop his pants forever.
Potty training sucks. There’s nothing fun about cheering on a little person who sits on the potty for 17 times in one day with nothing to show and then pees on the new couch. It’s frustrating, annoying and gross. But it’s temporary. School supply lists don’t ever include diapers, and teenagers don’t go around pooping their pants at school (I hope). He will learn to go in the potty and better yet, you’ll get to say goodbye to diapers.
- Your child will eat more than mac & cheese.
If you asked your parents about how you ate as a child, they’d likely tell tales of how you once survived on hot dogs or SpaghettiOs or Wonder Bread cheese sandwiches for six months straight. Or how you believed tomatoes would make you blind. Since you’re still alive, I’m guessing you probably haven’t hung on to any of these food quirks. Guess what? Neither will your child. He won’t always survive on carbs and milk. Someday he’ll try a carrot or a pea, maybe even a kiwi. And you can cancel that bulk order from Kraft.
- She’ll learn to play independently.
“Mommy, come play with me!” Sometimes it’s fun, other times it’s like tiny little nails scratching down the chalkboard. Why can’t she just play by herself for five minutes?! It’s hard to believe with a toddler but someday soon your kiddo won’t need to you play with her all the time. She’ll want some freedom to flex her imagination. She’ll crave independence to create play-doh figures and fantasy worlds. She’ll crash cars and play doctor all without you as a partner. You will be able to check emails, get things done or just simply sit back and breathe. It’s just a matter of time.
- She won’t always have conversations with her thumb.
Or insist there’s hot lava on all the rugs. Or lick grocery carts. She’s goofy, imaginative and sometimes just plain weird. She has her whole adult life to be far too serious far too often. If fantasy and dirt are her cup of tea for now, just sit back, enjoy the show…and buy a vat of hand sanitizer.
- He won’t eat his boogers.
Or maybe he will. But every group of friends needs a weird kid, right?
My point is this: we all worry. Some of those worries may be warranted – I’m not saying there aren’t any valid fears – but most just aren’t. Your child will grow up to sleep, eat, be kind and (hopefully) clean. So instead of putting the time and energy into fretting over the little things, I hope you’ll join me in trying instead to focus on the amazing little details that makes life with little ones so special.