To my fellow moms out there in the wilds of the internet: Are you doing enough worrying? I mean, there’s plenty to think about, right? Should we sleep with the baby? Should we push through breastfeeding because it’s the "best thing" we can do for our kids? What do we think about the effect of Hell's Kitchen on our babies' cortisol levels? Are we dooming our children's social development by letting them play with plastic toys? What does the scientific literature say about babies whose parents continued to drink nitro cold-brew coffee through pregnancy? Should your son play a sport? Shouldn’t your baby be crawling by now, according to the bell curve? ARE YOU WORRYING ENOUGH?
Of course, any chance you get, you should be researching this stuff — I'm talking page 4 of that internet forum discussing nipple confusion. Reddit, ideally; a parenting blog if you must. If you feel the urge, open up your parenting dilemma to the wilds of an online moms' group and let the worry flood your plains: you are doing it wrong, everyone else knows what they are doing, what were you thinking? What are you thinking?!
Maybe we should be more worried. Not about the breastfeeding, and bed-sharing, and making sure our kids are in 15 activities in order to be well-rounded adults, but worried about how freaking worried we are.
In fact, the way I see it, there are only two things we as moms should really be worrying about: Knowing less, and being happier.
Here’s what I mean, because I know you’re thinking it: When we know better, we do better. And I couldn’t agree more. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I did a lot of research on car seat safety. When she was a newborn, I wanted to have a very confident understanding of what it meant to sleep safely with her in bed with me. There are things we as parents have a responsibility to understand, and that is keeping our kids safe. So I don’t mean we need to be blatantly throwing caution to the wind and skip out on those visits to the car seat safety clinics, or dismissing the safe sleep guidelines for our kids.
However, we need to be focus all that nervous energy on knowing less. Less is more, Momma. Get the basic understanding of something, like the idea of baby-led weaning. Watch the videos on the differences between choking and gagging and learn the foods that pose a hazard when introducing solid foods to babies. Don’t read the article on the kid that died from choking because his parents chose to do baby-led weaning. Get a good basis for breastfeeding before the baby comes. Find one or two moms you know who have successfully breastfed and get involved with a breastfeeding support group like La Leche League, or not, if La Leche League stresses you the hell out. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of everything you could possibly know about nursing.
We as moms, we also need to be worrying about being happier. Instead of worrying about the best preschool with the best standards, and making sure you’ve picked out a sufficiently diverse group of kids for yours to hang out with, focus on happiness. Once you’ve picked a school, embrace it and don’t ask ten of your mom friends if they think it was a good decision. And please, for the love, stop picking out friends for your children. Take a step back and let them come as they’re supposed to. Do something every day for yourself and stop repeating the excuse that you’re a mom first and you can’t possibly take your eyes off your kids. Paint your damn nails, find the time to eat your lunch in peace, and stop being a martyr. Living life based on worrying and second-guessing isn’t going to make you a better mom, and it isn’t doing anything for your mental health. Let some things fall to the ground. ("Did you put coins in the CD player again, Taylor?" "HAYDEN NOT WITH THE SEWING SCISSORS!!!!")
Moms, I get it. We’re in the business of raising kids and that takes a lot of mental, emotional, and physical energy. We have a responsibility to tiny humans and we should never negate that fact. But instead of worrying that child predators are everywhere because of those viral Facebook posts you’ve read, focus on having an open relationship with your kids. Instead of freaking out that your kid is getting enough socialization, take a deep breath and know you can’t possibly screw that up unless you really try.
I guarantee our male partners aren’t worrying about the same things we are when it comes to our kids, so why does the burden have to fall on us? Maybe we need to be taking an active approach to the age-old advice: do what works for your family. And if that means steering clear of judgmental mom groups and social media while you focus on getting back to the basics and finding happiness, then by all means.
If you’re going to worry, worry about what’s really important.