Don’t worry about it

shutterstock_114614152I’ve been thinking about a couple of popular blog posts lately. This one about why it’s probably OK for a mom to be on her smart phone at various times of the day (even when her children are awake), and this one about why mothers shouldn’t expect to love every single millisecond of motherhood. Both come in response to the hordes of books, articles, essays and blog posts that exhort mothers to live in the moment and not lose sight of what is most important. (Good advice. I’ve written many such articles myself.)

But what I find both fascinating and freeing about these two articles is what seems (at least, to me) to be the secondary message: Don’t worry quite so much about all the ways you are supposedly failing. Even with all your weaknesses, indiscretions, mistakes and moments of negligence or ingratitude, chances are pretty darn good that you and your children are doing just fine.

I know this sounds completely counter to everything we stand for here at The Center for Deliberate Motherhood, but just because we are the ultimate cheerleaders for mothers becoming the best they can be (while staying not just sane, but happy), that doesn’t mean we condone or encourage unnecessary worry, guilt or self-flagellation. (It kind of goes against that happy thing.)

But we are mothers, and mothers worry. A lot.

Now, I’m not about to tell anyone to stop worrying about whether their teenager will come home safely on prom night or their 5-year-old will feel happy and secure on their first day of kindergarten. Those types of worries are legitimate and justifiable. But what I would like to put an end to is all the worrying about individual decisions that actually fit the needs of our children, our personalities and our family situations. In other words, just because another mother runs her household a completely different way and is having great success at it doesn’t mean your way of doing things isn’t equally valid and successful.

So for all the mothers out there who constantly second guess themselves, I offer this tongue-in-cheek chart of all the ways you can worry yourself to death. I made this with the hope that it would illustrate how our ability to worry about absolutely everything is good reason to stop worrying about, well, everything. In the end, all we really need to worry about is if we are doing the best that we can with all that we’ve got. And that will look completely different from one mother and family to the next.

If you . . .  then your child will . . . 
  • breastfeed exclusively
  • never learn to sleep through the night or bond with your spouse.
  • formula feed exclusively
  • have their health forever compromised, probably enduring chronic ear infections.
  • practice sleep training
  • have feelings of abandonment for the rest of their life and never feel close to you.
  • practice co-sleeping
  • risk being suffocated every night and ruin your relationship with your spouse.
  • use disposable diapers
  • be part of the global environmental problem.
  • use cloth diapers
  • have a perpetual diaper rash and you will look like the neighborhood hippie.
  • send your child to public school
  • never get into a decent college.
  • send your child to a private, charter, or montessori school
  • be a snob and unable to relate to “normal” people.
  • homeschool
  • be socially awkward and never develop solid friendships with other children.
  • go back to work and hire a nanny
  • have all their first moments with someone else and not know who to call mommy.
  • stay at home
  • have a mother who isn’t modeling how to work in society and will grow up thinking the world revolves around them.
  • engage your child in educational play most of the day
  • never learn to think or act independently because of your helicopter-ing ways.
  • let your child play on their own and use their own imagination
  • fall several grade levels behind the children with more interactive mothers.
  • sign your child up for several well-selected extracurricular activities
  • miss out on their childhood by sitting in a car eating fast food while driving from one organized activity to another.
  • choose to forego extracurricular activities
  • fail to develop their innate talents and miss their calling in life.
  • give your children an allowance
  • become an entitled brat who doesn’t know how to work.
  • make your child earn everything on their own
  • think of you as a task master and resent you for never cutting them any slack.

Do you see what I mean?

So I guess all I’m trying to say here is this: Stop worrying. Worrying will never help you or your children, but doing your best based on the needs of your children and family will. Sure, there will be times when you need to re-assess and maybe make course corrections based on new information or a new stage in your family’s life, but as much as possible, make the best decisions you can and them commit yourself to them — worry free.

QUESTION: Do you worry unnecessarily about choices you’ve made that are actually a good fit for your family?

CHALLENGE: Challenge those worries, and if they come up wanting, throw them out for good.

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