The worries of motherhood

Motherhood has taught me many lessons and brought with it many surprises.  One has been the worry.  I knew that when my daughter was a newborn, I’d worry about her breathing when I laid her in her crib.  I’d heard from other mothers (including my own) that this happens.  I guess I didn’t expect for that to last or bring with it a slew of other things that wouldn’t have crossed my mind before.

As I mentioned Wednesday, Lexiana started getting back on schedule this week after not sleeping well when she was sick.  After I wrote Wednesday’s post, however, time started ticking by.  The minutes and hours ticked by, and I didn’t even hear my child stir.  I started worrying that something was wrong.  I started worrying that she had stopped breathing.  The kid is 20 months old, and I still have these fears.  I breathed a sigh of relief when she finally started talking herself awake around 11 a.m.

My sleep fears are much better than in the early days when I would worry she wouldn’t wake up every single time I laid her down.  I am more relaxed now, but I still worry.  I have taken all the extra steps to keep her safe.  We don’t use bumpers on her crib.  For the first year, she had nothing in her crib with her.  These days she is allowed to sleep with one doll, but it has to be one certain doll of whom I approve because she is made for newborns and has no loose parts.  And she doesn’t have a pillow.  She also still uses a SleepSack, but that’s more because she moves around so much (like her mama!) that a blanket would never stay over her.

And we still use the monitor to hear her.  Her room is directly across the hall from ours.  In fact, if you were to measure the distance between our two heads when we’re sleeping, it would maybe be about 10 feet, but we leave her door closed.  I’m afraid I won’t hear her, so I keep the monitor on its lowest setting and rest easier that way.

I thought maybe I was a bit overanxious.  I’ve dealt with some anxiety in the past.  But, when I mentioned this to my mom’s group, I was reassured that I’m not one bit alone.  They recounted their own fears and how they solve them.  One even mentioned that when she stays with her parents during times her husband travels, her mother still checks in on her before going to bed.

Motherhood gives you a different worldview.  At least, it did for me.  I see dangers lurking everywhere for my child.  We were playing outside Tuesday evening, and she picked up a stick small enough she could easily grasp in one small hand.  I debated on whether to take it from her because she could fall and poke out her eye.  Seriously.  That went through my mind immediately.  I refrained by reassuring myself that kids have been playing with sticks since the beginning of time.  But, I still watched her closely while she played.

I’m not sure if my anxiety is exacerbated a bit by the fact that I’m a clumsy person.  By the time I was her age, I had already broken a collar bone by rolling off the couch.  I’d break another collar bone and my arms three times by the time I was 5.  Maybe I’m a bit paranoid that she’ll repeat my history.  For that reason, I also worry about her walking barefoot outside.  When I was 5, I did so and stepped on a bee.  My husband assures me that stepping on a bee barefoot doesn’t happen regularly or often, but I know that it can happen.  And, so I worry.  I also tried very hard not to freak out when my husband let her walk outside for a few minutes barefoot a couple of days ago.

What’s interesting about mother worry is that it brings its own worries.  You see, I don’t want my worries to wear off on my child. I don’t want her to be afraid to walk barefoot in the grass, play with sticks or even climb up the steps to a slide.  And so I worry that she can sense my worry.  It’s quite the vicious cycle.

To become a mother is to understand that you won’t ever be able to live life without worry again.  I trust God to take care of my daughter and my family.  But, I also think that He gives mothers some of these insights and concerns so we can protect our children.  If I don’t think about the dangers that lurk for my toddler, then she could stick something into an electrical outlet, burn herself on the hot oven or many other things I protect her against while she’s learning and growing.  Motherhood is rife with fears and worries because it is such a big responsibility.  I know this little person depends on me to keep her safe in the world.  She trusts that I feed her good food, give her a safe place to explore, grow and learn and make sure that she has everything she needs.

I know that my worries and fears for her will change as she grows.  A decade from now, I won’t have to worry about her sticking things in electrical outlets or touching the hot oven.  She’ll know better.  Other concerns will take their place.  I can’t go there in my head just yet, though, and think of all the issues that she will face in her life.  That is way too overwhelming.  For now, I’ll just concern myself with listening for her to stir and wake up every morning.  I’ll keep the outlets plugged.  I’ll continue to teach her to stay away from the hot oven.  I’ll watch her closely when she plays with sticks.  I’ll pay extra attention when she climbs onto furniture or into a lawnchair outside.  I will be on guard for her to protect her.  I will worry so that she doesn’t have to.  And I will try to not go overboard and let her just enjoy her life.  Just like a mom should.

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