Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mothers Who Fear

Motherhood, I've decided --or more accurately, I should say Young Motherhood --is a constant stream of fear.
Lemme esplain.

In the back of a mother's brain, I've decided (because let's be honest here, I don't represent every mother, nor do I even claim to think the same things other mothers think, and truthfully, I could totally be off base here, which I'm prone to be) there is a huge lump of nagging fear. This fear begins with conception and continues until death. Maybe beyond death. I wouldn't know, yet, because I am very much not dead. Things a mother (okay, this mother) fears:

1. Can I really take care of another person physically? What if s/he gets sick? What if they fall down the stairs? What if they break an arm? How can I prevent this? If I don't prevent this, how can I fix it?

2. What if this (these) child (ren) turn out to be jerks? How can I possibly prepare them to be awesome people? The manners, the work ethic, the integrity, the social skills, the academics, the goal-making, the spiritual preparing --how in the world am I going to do this all?

3. Am I succeeding? Am I failing?

4. Why did I just say what I did to my child? Why do I end up apologizing so much? Why can't I just arm them with emotional strength rather than cause them emotional harm? Will they remember what I said or what I did in this moment?

5. How much therapy are they honestly going to need in the future because of my failings?

6. Do they know how much I love them? Ache for them? Pray for them? Do they know how often they cross my mind? (Constantly, in case you were wondering.)

7. Are they comfortable enough with our relationship that the foundation of trust is present? Do they trust me? Am I encouraging that trust?

8. How am I supposed to react when someone is hurting them? Do I tell them to ignore bullies or do I get involved? How much am I supposed to intervene? Am I doing enough or too much?

9. Do they know I have a testimony of Jesus Christ? Do they know how much the Gospel means? The temple? My covenants? Our eternal family? Do they know WHY we believe what we believe? Do they really know they are children of God? Do they have testimonies that will withstand everything that will come their way? Do they know enough? Am I teaching them enough?

10. Am I too obsessed with these things? Should I be more relaxed? Am I not obsessed enough? Should I be more relentless?

Fear, fear, fear. Not the kind of fear that obliterates Faith --I mean, let's get real, here. I've been told that with real Faith, fear has no place. But I'm mortal. I strive to blast away fear with my Faith, but the fear is still there. I think it always will be as long as: A. I let it (because I really could just chill out, I'm guessing, with a lot of hard work, therapy, and time, time, time) and B. I am alive. You know, the mortal thing and all. My Faith hasn't completely gotten rid of my fear, but it has helped me realize that there are some things I can do, and other things I cannot do. The irony is that for mothers, at least, the fear/worry is probably something that will always be present. How can it not be? I don't know. I've just been thinking a lot about it today. How I'm constantly readjusting my tactics and wondering if what I'm doing is accomplishing any good. I love my kids so much and I'm trying so hard to focus on their strengths and what I do right --but at the same time, it's so easy to become distracted by the things they do wrong and my failings to teach them better; in short, to focus on the negative.

Blah, blah, blah. I'm just blabbing now, slightly incoherently. Excuse my brain dump, but if you have any additional insight, it would be welcome. As always!

P.S. Happy Birthday to MY mother! I love you!


Heidi said...

Hi Cheryl,
I always like to read your posts. You wrote about your children, "I'm trying so hard to focus on their strengths and what I do right --but at the same time, it's so easy to become distracted by the things they do wrong and my failings to teach them better." I feel that way sometimes, too. I recently read a book called "Through His Eyes," by Virginia Pearce that I think deals with this topic in some ways. I really do recommend it and like the insights it gave me. Thanks again for your good writing and thought-provoking blog!

Anonymous said...

Something I liked in one of John Rosemond's books (I'm theoretically opposed to parenting books, but I've read a few in my time) was about worrying that you will somehow do lasting harm to your child if you make a bad decision: "Bad decisions don't do lasting harm. Bad people do." And he went on to say that if you care about your children enough to think about your decisions regarding them, that indicates that you are not a bad person. So congratulations. :) Kids judge us on the whole, and also on a curve. Thank goodness.