I don’t think I’ve ever been an overly anxious person. Sure, I’m no stranger to a bit of Session Depression, but generally I’m pretty confident and content within myself.
Until becoming a mother.
After giving birth I was surrounded by strong women who empowered me and supported me: my midwife, my mother and my Plunket nurse. But still it crept in. For every empowerer (new word, we shall keep it) there seemed to be 10 other voices drowning out their praises and making me question my ability.
It felt (well actually still feels at times) debilitating. Yes, it is far better with my second child, who does seem easier to manage. But now I find myself with 2 small humans to fail. 4 feet to keep warm, 20 fingernails to keep trimmed, 2 hats to put on and 17,262 snacks to remember to pack. And it doesn’t just stop there, does it?
Everywhere I turned there were hazards and cautions. You should do this, but certainly not that. Hold them, put them down, rock them, OMG DON’T rock them. And all the things that can befall an unwary mother!
Facebook (my friendly 3am feed companion) seemed to be a magnet for the latest WARNING! (in severe capital letters).
I was surprised to see Hunters daycare serving grapes for afternoon tea, because Facebook told me that grapes were the #1 ranked food item for choking under 5s?! Surely they cannot be safe?!
Then there was my special anxieties with the car. I had a child who hated the car, or was it the car seat? I’ll never know. In an attempt to make the drive less screamy for all parties, we turned him front facing at 9 months.
Oh the internal battle.
What if something awful happened to my child by doing this?!
Sometimes I’d just have finished the epic wrangle into the seat and I’d remember his jacket was still on. I was scared some well-meaning passerby was going to remind me of all the statistics about children wearing jackets in cars during accidents.
Goodness forbid, eating something (grapes probably), whilst wearing his jacket, and sitting, front-facing, 9 months old, in the car seat.
I was going to hell.
If anything were to occur, it would be my fault for trying to appease him and have an acceptable level of noise for safe driving.
It’s a big weight on your shoulders to be responsible for life.
Anxiety crept in again whist shopping for bath toys, I remember searching for days (you know, with all that spare time you have as a mother). In the end I left every shop empty-handed for fear that the chosen toy may harbour mould, and would be the carrier for all waterborne diseases known to man.
How do we draw the line between giving safe, sensible advice and creating anxiety in sleep-deprived new mothers?
I’m not actually sure of the answer. I’d love to cut myself some more slack. Throw caution to the wind. Trust my gut. But I’m just not sure I can do it alone. I’m going to keep talking- saying it out loud seems to help, suddenly the irrational voice has less power.
I’m going to keep talking to whoever will listen.