I have a confession to make. I am a compulsive worrier. Had I rid myself of this tendency when our kids were little, my mothering might have been more serene and less stressed. I blame my early anxiety on becoming a parent without the least bit of experience – I was the youngest in my family and I never babysat.
When handed my own newborn, I began to study Drs. Spock, Brazelton and Ferber but anguished over whom to believe when their advice diverged. Feeling like Dorothy getting directions from the Scarecrow, I longed for my own pediatric wizard to show me the way to parenting perfection. I hand-wrung my way through our oldest child’s every stage from the terrible twos to the scary sixteens, – drivers license, prom and SAT, oh my.
With no small credit to my commonsensical husband, our children are growing up and thriving despite my constant concern over their well being. Our first is in college and progressing along a somewhat linear path toward independence. His sister, too, seems to be managing the challenges of high school just fine. For years I brought my worries to bed like a favorite stuffed animal; I now sleep a little more soundly. The reason? It is simply much harder to fret about the specifics of a child in college when you are kept in the dark about those particulars.
But that is only part of the answer. Both children have shown good judgment and learned from their missteps. And I, in turn, have gained confidence from their confidence. I realize, too, that there is no Oz whose advice warrants total devotion. Learning to trust my mothering instincts, I understand that they will lead me to make, mostly, sound decisions. Had I truly absorbed this lesson earlier on, I could have spared my family the crazy with worry mom that they never really deserved.