When you bring that newborn baby home from the hospital, there are so many fears. Is she eating okay? Is she getting enough? Is she breathing right? You analyize everything, right down to the poop. Is she ready for solid foods? How do I KNOW for sure she is ready? All these thoughts on basic survival run through your head. Then people tell you it gets easier.
Oh sure there is the toddler phase, with its own challenges. However most of the time we have the idea of basic survival down. We survived the first year. Perhaps this kid does have a chance! By this time we have the whole food thing down, mostly. This is why it makes perfect sense that toddlers start to insert their independence. Mostly by requesting food/drink and then refusing it. This is when I felt it most acutely that parenting was more than just making sure they survive.
At five years, you can laugh at their confidence on conquering the world. Well, most of the time, when you are not clutching your chest in anxiety as they climb a tree. Confident that they will reach that bird nest no problem. You want them to explore and learn. You also want to wrap them in bubble wrap at the same time.
When you bring that new baby home and they scream and cry,we wish they could talk. Just please please please tell me what the heck you want! Now I have learned that talking is not necessarily a good thing. For example : “Mommy this dinner is disgusting! ” She ate it just fine last week. “I didn’t eat my cheese stick because I wanted the all orange cheese stick not the white and orange. ” This after the ten minute discussion about what cheese stick TO pack. There are definitely days that having a kid that talks is over-rated.
While the basics at nine are pretty down pat. Yes, they really do need to eat dinner every night. There is much more I feel constantly unprepared for. Somethings I felt we had time to prepare for,the sex talk. While it has been in parts here and there, it started much earlier than I expected. So far, we have only had to approach how babies come out, not in. I have been researching how to have the in talk but, I am totally okay if she is not interested until she is eighteen. Maybe. Somethings were much heavier, Why isn’t there housing for the homeless? Why does nobody do that? Now my fears are more complex. Am I hindering her by not talking about it? Am I making something worse by talking about it? Am I making sure she is growing up to not be an asshole when she is an adult? Am I teaching compassion well enough? Am I teaching gratitude enough? Are they just empty words, thank you, or does she really understand the meaning? Is this really what nine year olds are like? Is she normal? Am I balancing her physical health and mental health?Am I nourishing her spiritual health? Am I teaching her how to balance her physical health and mental health?
The first couple years are labor intensive. Then you hit a certain point and it is no longer so much labor intensive as it is mentally intensive. Some days it truly is hard to out think a nine year old. Some days the constantly thinking part wears me out more than just meeting her physical needs.
I think for me a lot of the times my fears and doubts are spurred because I remember being her age. I remember how I was feeling. I see so much of myself in her. True there is deffinetely a strong contribution from my husband. I remember how deeply I felt emotions at that age. I felt even the smallest critisim as a verbal tongue lashing. I felt the elated feeling of happiness with every fiber of my soul. It is just how we are. We feel deeply. I want to protect her from all the dangers to emotional and mental health that entails. At the same time, I know I can’t.
This is the million and one things mothers think about. Some fathers as well. This parenting thing, I don’t think it gets easier, it is just different.