Real Life Mama: Worrying about worrying

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“The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.” —Jodi Picoult

This week, during one of my am-I-failing-my-kids “therapy sessions” with a friend, a variation of these words was spoken to me. And guys, let me tell you, if the amount of worry I do about my kids directly reflects how good of a mom I am, then I just may be one of the best. Ha.

Seriously, why is it not written in all the books about how much you will worry not only about your babies but even more about whether or not you are screwing them up or setting them up to succeed? There is so much information out there about the easy things — what foods they should eat, bedtime schedules, study habits, etc. But no one talks about how every single day you question if you should have handled this differently or should have said that.

You know what else is not written in a book is how children will literally not listen to a thing you say until you lose it. For real, that’s like pretty much a fact. And then, after you ask them to do something seven times and raise your voice — you are the crazy one. Wait, if you would have listened to the first six times, I would not be to this point.

But then you contemplate on how you could have handled it better – stayed calm longer, blah blah blah. I actually read a parenting tip to “not yell.” Do you know what it said? It said that you ask them once, and if they do not do it, you take something from them immediately while you are still calm. Tablet time – gone. Friend time – gone. Whatever it is they thrive on – sayanora.

Listen, I get the impact behind all of that. And maybe after a time or two, it actually works, and kids will listen to the first time. But I truly just do not want to take things from my babies. For the most part, they are great kids – they treat others kindly, do well in school, help out those in need. Me having to tell them seven times to brush their teeth isn’t really a character deficit. Right?

But, heck, what do I know. I will just go worry about whether or not I am doing it right.

Nothing has made me more questionable than the last 15 months. It’s so tricky now. With their dad and I no longer married, I cannot tell you how many times I have questioned if their lives are ruined because we could not figure it out. How maybe I should have given even more time and effort than I already did into making it work – even at the expense of my well-being and happiness – just to protect theirs.

Typically, I can talk myself into the notion that my kids deserve me at my best, but I still feel the guilt of not giving that up for their well-being and happiness. It’s an ongoing battle of worry and guilt.

Yes, I know that God tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) And guys, I know this! But I still struggle with it. I hear you, God. But am I messing up? Have I done enough for these girls on this day? Should I have done more? Where could I have been better? Help me to be better tomorrow.

But that’s the catch-22 – because then, I know I shouldn’t be worrying because God tells me not to worry, and then I am worrying about worrying. Did you read that? I am worrying about worrying! Yep, that’s not in any of those parenting books either.

I am not perfect – not as a mother, Christian, friend or daughter. And I know I never will be. But I have these high standards that I hold myself to, especially when it comes to the two little lives that came from me. I want to be the best for them — teach them the best, help them to be their best.

But no matter how much faith I have in God, I still worry that I am not enough for them – not doing enough, not handling things correctly, not loving enough, not being involved enough – like there is this level of great parenting that I just cannot attain.

Maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself. For sure, I need to give more of it to God. But maybe, my worrying also means that I continually evaluate my parenting skills and work harder the next time.

And maybe, just maybe, as my friend said, my worrying really does mean that I am a good mom.

The amount of worrying about these girls could be a sign of being a good mama.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.

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