I may come off as cool and collected to the people who know me, but I'm usually pretty stressed. I worry less than some other people I know, sure, but my anxiety levels are still way too high for me to feel comfortable. I worry about all sorts of things that are statistically unlikely, like kidnappings and getting killed by lightning. I realize a lot of what I stress about seems silly, and the ridiculous things I actually worried about when my kids were toddlers probably top the list of irrationality. But, a mother's worry isn't always rational, my friends. Kids, of course, brought out the worst of my anxiety and I often wonder if I am going to live to see them graduate high school because of the constant stress I'm under caused by nothing more than their existence. But, that's on me, not on them.
At night, as soon as my head hits the pillow, my mind starts to wander. I "what if?" myself into a spiral of agonizing turmoil. Everything that can go wrong, goes wrong in that insane mind of mine. Truly, I think of the most horrific things and then hate myself for thinking about those things. It's a never-ending cycle of terrible thoughts followed by guilt followed by more "what if." I don't know why my mind works the way it does, but I do know my mother is the same way. I still have to call her whenever I get home from whatever gathering I am going to. I have to check in with her every day. I'm so used to it by now it's intuitive.
After surviving the newborn stage and the first year of my kids' lives, I thought many of my new-mom worries were going to be left behind. And while some definitely were, new ones surfaced, too. It seems as if every stage of parenthood brings a new level of stress. What seems all-consuming in the infant years, will be ridiculously silly in the toddler years. What seems like overwhelming during the toddler years, will seem completely moot during the pre-schooler years. And so on and so forth. I honestly don't know if there will be much left of me by the time my kids are teenagers. Until then, however, I will worry about everything else in between.
I Worried They'd Be Malnourished
I don't know if you're aware, but toddlers can survive on a minimal amount of food. And the food they actually do eat leaves a lot to be desired in the nutrition department. When my kids were babies, I fed them organic fruits and vegetables and grass -fed cage-free, farm-to-table everything. They ate broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, and quinoa. You name it, they ate it. Once they realized they had a say in what they ate? Yeah, they didn't eat, no matter what I did. Unless I was offering hot dogs or macaroni and cheese, they weren't interested. And I worried all the time they would be malnourished and weren't getting the proper nutrition. Luckily, they grew out of that "hunger strike" phrase and now they both eat pretty well.
I Worried About All The Germs
Have you ever seen a toddler lick everything in sight and put everything possible in his or her mouth? A lovely sight, isn't it? Before I realized toddlers are somewhat impenetrable by germs, I was a hot mess trying to wash their hands every second of every day. Then, I realized I was driving myself crazy by trying to keep them away from germs and just let them play in mud with the rest of the 2-year-olds.
I Was Worried They Weren't Hitting Their Milestones
During my daughter's 18-month-old appointment the pediatrician took out a milestone chart and started asking me all sorts of questions. Is my child speaking in complete sentences? Can she jump? Can she throw a ball? Can she feed herself? Is he writing her college application essay? Has she mastered pre-calculus? I freaked out when my kid wasn't speaking by almost 2. I nearly had Early Intervention come out to our house until I was told bilingual children tend to start speaking later than their monolingual counterparts.
I Worried I Wasn't Stimulating Them Enough
I wondered if I was doing enough with my kids to stimulate their creativity and intellect. I bought flashcards and coloring books and blocks. I was nervous they weren't going to be as smart or as innovative as the other kids. I signed them up for one of the highest rated "enrichment" centers, or as any normal person calls them: daycares.
I Worried About Their Social Skills
Playdates are mandatory, right? Well, they were for me. I was so worried my kid wouldn't be socially accepted or would be socially awkward. My daughter, especially, wasn't the warmest baby. In fact, she would cry whenever anyone else would pick her up. So, I worried that my daughter wouldn't be able to socialize with other kids, so I was always analyzing her interactions. Now, I realized all of that worry was in vain since children go through so many different social developmental milestones.
I Worried They Were Bullies
I didn't realize kids go through stages of biting and hitting, so when the daycare teacher told me my son hit someone, I was temporarily devastated. Of course I immediately spoke with him and since it never happened again, I assumed my worries were useless.
I Worried They Would Be Bullied
A girl kept biting and pinching my daughter in daycare and my daughter didn't defend herself. Kid were constantly taking away her toys and pushing her aside and she didn't do anything but cry. It broke my heart and made me worry about her being picked on for the rest of her life.
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