It’s NOT the work…it’s the worry!
It’s not the piles of laundry, the making meals, the picking up toys, the million car seat buckle ups, diaper changes, brushing teeth and washing hair..it’s not the bedtime stories, the million questions, the playdates, the drop-offs or the rocking babies to sleep….I mean yes all these things are work and sometimes it can feel frustrating or even tedious…but it is not what makes parenting difficult…the WORRY, the worry is what makes parenting so tough.
I wish I could take full credit for this thought but this was actually said to me a few years ago by a parent of a very sick child I was the nurse for. I was pregnant with my first at the time and he asked how many children I wanted…I naively said “A LOT”, and asked him if he wanted more than the two he already had. Without skipping a beat he said something along the lines of “NO WAY! It’s not the work of having kids it’s the worry!” Now he did have a sick child but he explained it was more than that, there is worry about the health of that child but how about the eldest…is she adjusting, how is she coping with this families new normal, with her parents being away A LOT and stressed when they are home…He was in a situation that was hopefully un-relatable for most parents and yet said something that is SO relatable to all parents.
There is nothing in the world you wouldn’t do to see your kids happy and healthy…and when this isn’t the case…it’s torture. From the moment you find out you are pregnant you innately start to worry about the wellbeing of that little person you have been entrusted to. You worry about their size, you worry about what you eat, you worry about what they eat, you worry about milestones, you worry about sickness, you worry about socializing them, you worry about their sleep, their behaviours, leaving them with someone else, how they cope, how they adjust……the list goes on and on, and it IS what is exhausting about being a parent. It is loving someone so much that you just want them to have a perfect and happy life with no setbacks or struggles…and unfortunately its not realistic or achievable.
So what can we do?
We can help them to become resilient and try and give them the skills to cope when life inevitably becomes tough. We can be there…be a safe space for them, no matter what. We can do all the WORK that goes along with parenting but we cannot (despite our best efforts) control all the external factors. What is important to do is to look at what is worrying you…maybe it’s an unreached milestone..and maybe it doesn’t matter..or maybe it does. In most cases new parents worry themselves sick about meeting milestones and in the end most kids meet them eventually and it was a waste of worry. But what about the children who don’t hit the milestone, what happens then?…
Well, in my experience those parents look the problem in the eye and take it on! They support and love their children through one of many challenges life is going to toss their way…they deal with it, because they have to.
It is normal to worry ( I am CERTIANLY guilty of this)…we worry because we love them. So while it is a parents job to worry maybe knowing you are not the only parent who spends a huge amount of their life overthinking, might just help give some perspective to some of that worry and allow you to spend more time enjoying that perfectly imperfect little person you love so very much!