Since my daughter was born about 2 years ago, I’ve been constantly struggling with trying to balance my sense of self with being the perfect mother to a good mother to just being my daughter’s mother!
I recall watching an episode of CSI New York, months ago, in which Detective Mac Taylor advises his colleague, Danny when he voices his fear of becoming a father and marrying Lindsey. Detective Taylor says, ‘God brought Lindsey and you together, I believe that, and you have now been blessed with a gift. The greatest gift life has to offer. Now you can choose to live in a place of fear or you can believe in the best version of you.’
Every time I’m faced with the fear of trying to do the ‘right’ thing, I give myself the same advice. I try to do what feels right in my heart at that point in time. I tell myself, deal with the repercussions as and when they come, don’t dwell on the imaginary scenarios in your head now and drive yourself nuts. But whoever believed that the mind listens to the heart? Or in this case, it was the heart screwing with our minds?
Our daughter was born to us after 10 years of marriage, after we’d come to terms with the fact that we were just not meant to be parents but destined to live our lives as DINKS. So from the day we found out that we had been blessed till today, although we’re super thrilled to have her in our lives, every now and then (read on most occasions) we freak out!
I spent two crazy months puking, losing my appetite, feeling sore and having acidity attacks. Never did I once believe that I could be pregnant and simply ignored people when they suggested that I should check.
Finally one day when I decided to amuse myself and took the home pregnancy test, the shock of becoming pregnant naturally after so long took its toll. For a long time we argued about the remote possibilities of such things happening! Were we happy? Not really, as fear took over – initially it was the fear of the repercussions of a late pregnancy, possible physical defects, developing gestational diabetes or pressure, then it moved on to worrying that when the child became a teenager we’d have crossed over to the ‘sexier’ side of the 60s. Fear simply took over the simplicity of the situation – that we were having a baby!
Thankfully, everything went well and our daughter was born healthy.
But then, new fears took over our lives. Dealing with the pressures of parenthood we struggled with worrying about her upbringing, physical wellbeing, spoiling and pampering her too much. We continuously kept second guessing ourselves – were we doing it right? Should we be her friends or parents? Who should take on the role of the disciplinarian? We wanted advice and looked around at other children within our circle of friends and family and saw how they were being brought up. We noted the good and bad but simultaneously realised every child is different! We didn’t want to compare nor did we want to pressure her into following suit – and so the struggle continued.
Having lived as DINKS for so long we hadn’t bothered saving ‘prudently’ for the future – we worked hard, made money, partied harder, enjoyed life, travelled, met our materialistic needs and let life carry on in a daze. With her birth suddenly we felt we had no savings and no time on our hands. A frenzy to make money began. I quit my job and stayed home to take care of her while husband started seriously planning for the future – her future. There was no time to worry about our future – it felt like we’d lived our lives and now we’d only be living for her.
In the rut of making up for lost time, our relationship felt the pressure. We both wanted the same things for our daughter but we each had our own ways of expressing them and our own reasoning – to an extent, we were both right but neither wanted to give in. It was worrying. If minor decisions about her made us crazy now, imagine the bull fight when there were major decisions at stake?
Even though we had wanted a child, we had given up on the idea a really long time ago. Her sudden appearance in our lives was totally unexpected. It was a challenge for us to acknowledge and accept that we were simply so unprepared!
Although our daughter basks in all the love and attention she receives with no expectations from us, it is, our own expectations that we continue to project onto her, constantly worrying about her every day. It is ‘we’ who want to give her ‘everything’ she deserves while being unable to define that ‘everything!’
In a sane frame of mind, Mac’s advice sounds so right. We could continue worrying about doing the ‘right’ thing always, allowing fear to take different forms at every stage of her upbringing or perhaps we could let go, believing in our best selves and simply being there for her.
(First published in Momspresso (formerly mycity4kids) on May 26, 2014 -https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/muchkin-and-me/article/being-the-best-version)