Next week, my son will be 1 year old. The time has flown by so quickly. Certainly, there were times when I just wanted it all to end and I wanted my little one to suddenly metamorphosis into a full grown person. But, as I see him grow, I realize that he is no longer a baby, but an actual mini-human. He has likes and dislikes; a little embryonic personality has already formed.
I like to think I will help grow his personality into what it will become in the future. But, as I have stated before, I also have a deep seeded fear; fears that he will not grow up happy and well adjusted no matter what effort I put into his development.
I can read all the books and studies I want, but no amount of science and understanding will suddenly transform me into a good parent. No amount of book knowledge will teach me how to overcome my own stumbling blocks. I know in my mind that yelling at my child at this point does nothing, yet, I still will shout at him when I see him doing something that makes me afraid. It is my first reaction. And while I am trying to teach myself not to do that, when the little fingers of fear grab me, it is hard to do otherwise. I am getting better, but my logical mind and my emotional mind do not always agree. I am not yelling at him because I am angry at him, but rather because I am angry at myself for letting him get into a situation that could potentially be dangerous to him.
Children learn by examples. I do not want him to grow up seeing me yell when I am afraid for him. I do not want him to see an angry parent, but rather the caring one. I want my son to see that he has a loving family with two parents who care for him and each other. Something people often forget is that children learn what love and affection is, not by what you show them, but by what you show all the people around you.
When he is older, I know I will be able to explain to him why I yell or get angry or why I am afraid, but at this point, he can’t understand that. (Though I often find myself explaining anyway.)
I try not to do anything that will shut down his creativity or exploration of the world. I know that him banging on things and making noise is just experimentation. I am fine with the noise and the mess. But, my motherly instinct is to swoop in and protect him. I see him with bruises from his walking misadventures and tumbles and I worry about whether or not I am a good parent. Is there something more I could have done to prevent the bumps and bruises? Is there something I could do better? I try not to coddle when he falls and cries. And for the most part, I don’t. I have gotten pretty good at distinguishing the scared cry from the actual hurt cry. But it is still scary. Really scary.
So, even a year into being a mother, I still find myself afraid. I still find myself questioning just as much as I did before I was a mother. I still find myself feeling the fearful jitters and moments of panic.
And I think, this is natural. And it is OK.