Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Fears that Keep Me Up at Night

Even Trey looks worried...
Last night, I went to bed around 1:30, exhausted and ready for a good night's rest.  Instead, I awoke at 3:30 and couldn't go back to sleep.  I tossed and I turned.  I got myself a drink of water.  I went to the bathroom.  And then I stared at the ceiling for a very.  long.  time.

And during those hours of inexplicable insomnia (for, after all, what sane mother of a 15-month-old finds herself unable to sleep?), I was plagued by so many worries, fears, and doubts that I thought I would never rest again.

I worried that the conventionally produced meat and blueberries I ate this weekend would taint my breast milk with pesticides, hormones, and other vile things I don't want in my baby's body.

I worried that the unholy alliance between my neighbor's cigarette smoke and the mold in my laundry room will give Trey asthma.

I worried that Trey will get skin cancer because I let him play in indirect sunlight without sunscreen.

I worried that Trey will get rickets because I only let him skip sunscreen when he's playing in indirect sunlight.

I worried that the pasteurized, organic, grass-fed milk I buy from local farmers isn't actually pasteurized, organic, or grass-fed at all.

I worried that I spend too much time cleaning the house while Trey plays by himself.

I worried that Trey will never learn how to be independent because I pick him up every time he whines.

I worried that I scarred Trey for life the few times I successfully remembered not to pick him up the minute he started to whine.

I worried that I am too strict, and that Trey will rebel by spending his entire adolescence watching television and eating McDonald's.

I worried that I am too lenient, and that Trey will become obese because I sometimes let him eat brownies and ice cream.

I worried that the ice cream Trey ate on Saturday contained both bovine growth hormones and antifreeze.

I worried that I am inconsistent about applying the rules for table manners, and climbing on dangerous things, and how long Trey is expected to wait patiently for me to finish what I'm doing.

I worried that Trey will be emotionally scarred because sometimes I snap at him when he won't stop climbing my legs.

I worried that Trey will grow up to hate me, because I raised him completely, totally wrong.  
I never knew mothering would be such a painfully, fiercely fearful undertaking.  I try to take good care of Trey; I spend most of my life striving to provide him with nutritious food, a clean and safe living space, lots of intellectual stimulation, and a healthy emotional environment.  And yet I am constantly terrified that I will fail him, scar him, or stunt him in some way.

Am I crazy?  Or is this something all moms do?  Do you lie awake at night, counting your failures and praying you haven't screwed your kids up too badly?  What are your biggest fears?


  1. You do the best that you can. If you do your best, and something goes wrong, well, you can't control it all. Breathe, girl. Trey will grow up just fine. You two need a nap.

  2. These are all valid fears. It also might mean you have high expectations of yourself as a mom. But be careful..one of the things I worry about is teaching my little how to become a "worrier".

  3. We all have sleepless nights full of fears, regrets and worries. The goal is to try to keep those things in check so that you can enjoy being a mom instead of stressing so much that you lose the joy of this wonderful time. Striking a balance is the most important thing you can do. And that means being imperfect while trying your best to do what you can for your child. If you could be perfect, would you want him to see that and then think that he has to be perfect too? I agree, definitely need a nap.

  4. You need a little more confidence in yourself. If you're aiming for perfection, you're missing the point.

  5. I worry about a lot of those things, too. I try to remind myself to let it go. I just try to stick to my guns and do the best I can with the resources I have. There are times when my kids don't like me very much and there are times when I don't like them very much. Gasp! :-) When that happens, I try to re-connect somehow - a walk, the park, a bike ride, a game... You seem to be an intelligent person who researches things you're concerned about and acts on the knowledge you gain. Stick to your guns and don't freak out too much. That's my unsolicited advice. :-)

  6. I sincerely appreciate all the feedback and advice. Marly and Michelle, I know you ladies are awesome mamas, so I really take your words to heart! I'm trying to stay sane, but sometimes all the fears and worries just come to haunt me all at once. The good news is, Trey really exhausted me today, so I probably won't have any issues sleeping tonight!

  7. I can tell by your comments that you are a good mom already! I now have a 2 1/2 year old so I have already gone through your stage and have moved on to the next list of questions. The dentist said that our son has to give up the paci before 3 years old. Do we do that before moving him to a toddler bed? How do we start potty training when we are doing all these changes? When do we put him in nursery school? How do we choose the nursery school? I think that all mothers have millions of things that swirl in their brain while they are trying to "rest." Remember that you need to be rested to take care of your little angel the next day. I find that reading a totally unecessary book before bed helps to clear my brain (and I don't mean the toddler/baby books). Thanks for sharing!!!! ( I tried to post under my name but it wouldn't let me...hope this works)

  8. Sorry to hear you experienced issues posting a comment. I'll have to look into that. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. We moms do have a lot to think about, don't we???

  9. I was looking into one of those baby seats for bicycles, and some wrote a diatribe about how those seats cause shaken baby syndrome. Now every time I push the stroller over a bumpy sidewalk, I fear that I am giving Charlotte a brain injury. Geez.

  10. I used to worry about the same thing! Every time Trey was jostled, or (God forbid!) actually bumped his head, I was ready to take him to the ER. Now, he gets bumped and bruised so much that I'm like, "Is he bleeding? Yes? Well is there glass in the cut? No? OK, he's fine." :)


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