There is a lot about parenthood that scared me when I first became one.
- How will I care for the baby – feed, diaper, dress, bathe, soothe?
- How will I take care of my house – shopping, preparing, cleaning?
- How will I take care of my husband – be attentive, connect, enjoy?
- How will I take care of myself? [Notice there are no examples – I didn’t have any example when I first became one, I didn’t know what taking care of myself looked like]
In the beginning, my top priority was to keep my baby alive and healthy. The realization that my husband and I were now responsible for this precious being was terrifying. The fear and anxiety I had were a result of this being something new I didn’t have much practice in, and an understanding of what a massive responsibility I had in raising my child.
What used to give me anxiety before my child before, which quickly waned once my son arrived, was keeping up my house. Spotless countertops and everything being in its place just didn’t happen. I experienced some discomfort over the situation, but had to modify what I got stressed out about or I would be a mess all the time.
My husband and I have been a good team, but it hasn’t always been the smoothest of sailings. When things aren’t smooth it can feel scary. What’s going to happen to us? What’s going to happen to our family if we don’t figure this out? Etc. Occasionally, we’ve needed to regroup, reevaluate and reconnect to get our relationship back on track. Not always easy to do with busy schedules and little ones to raise, but we make working on our relationship one of our priorities and I’m comforted by our commitment to see things through.
I have blogged much about taking care of your self and spend a good deal of time on this in my book and when I’m speaking to parenting groups. Despite the popular belief that the more you sacrifice the better parent you are, the reality is the better you are at taking care of yourself the better parent and partner you will be. Yes, you may be scared of being seen as selfish, but there is nothing selfish about it and therefore nothing for you to fear.
The scariest thing of all for me now is not being in control. I understand that I can only control my own actions. As much as I want to influence the actions of others I can’t control what they say, how they behave or decisions they make, regardless of the impact on my family and I. I love life and want my kids to enjoy it as well, so I try not to get myself too concerned with this. If I did, it could be paralyzing. Instead I try to be more self-aware starting with my own words and deeds. How I speak to my children, spouse, friends, relatives, co-workers, other parents, and people I encounter everyday? Am I treating them the way I want to be treated? Am I living my life in a way that is healthy for my family and I? If not, what will I do to make the change that is needed.
Control is powerful, but something each of us own. It’s nothing to be scared of when it’s ultimately in your hands to change.
To Be Continued…