Is my child smart enough? Am I spending enough time at home? Is it OK for my son to play with dolls or my daughter to play with trucks? Mighty Mommy tackles these and other questions that parents worry about.
Since kids don't come with owners' manuals, we often have to rely on our instincts to guide us through the tough terrain. With that comes a good dose of worry. That natural worry is compounded by information we're constantly bombarded with via news reports, the web, and our well-intentioned friends and family.
If you feel like you've become a worrywart, know that you're not alone. Mighty Mommy has had her share of fretting too. But in the process of raising my 8 kids, I've discovered 5 things you definitely shouldn't lose sleep over!.
Worry #1: What if I don't bond with my newborn?
Bonding with your newborn is one of the first worries new parents encounter. Bonding is the intense attachment parents develop with their baby. It's the feeling that makes you simply melt. You feel like you'd do anything in the world to care for and protect your new bundle of joy. Many expectant moms fantasize about that quintessential moment when they lay eyes on their baby shortly after birth - harps will play, a golden light will surround you both, birds will tweet - you will instantly fall in love with this beautiful new being that you created, right?
The truth is that being a new parent is exhausting. You'll feel stressed and overwhelmed at times. While nursing can help you bond with your baby, it also releases a flood of hormones that could leave you in an emotional whirlwind. And if you've had a long, difficult delivery, you may need to recover a bit before you can even concentrate on bonding.
Mighty Mommy's first baby arrived through adoption. I held her for the first time when she was 8 hours old, and I truly did feel an instant connection that was intense and probably the most amazing feeling I'd ever experienced. One year later, I delivered my first biological baby. After a grueling 28-hour labor, I openly admit that when I held my son for the first time, it wasn't the remarkable moment I expected.
I was wiped from my delivery and, to be honest, I didn't exactly think he was the most attractive little guy in the world. The cone head, the peeling newborn skin, his scrawny little legs - since it was my first delivery, I had no idea that this is what a newborn usually looks like. I was disappointed. But guess what? Within the first few weeks we did bond and I fell completely in love with every inch of him. That baby is 20 years old now.
So don't be concerned if you don't feel that sense of "wow" when your baby first arrives. Over time, you'll get to know and enjoy your newborn, learn how to comfort her, and your feelings will deepen. That first magical moment isn't a prerequisite for a lifetime of love.
Worry #2: Am I spending enough time with my child?
Another big worry for parents is that they don't spend enough time with their children - especially for parents who work outside the home or who have more than one child. A common thread that many parents share is that they fear their children won't grow into successful, respectful, well-rounded individuals if they don't spend enough time with their parents.
In my early days of motherhood, I thought it would be a piece of cake to carve out time for doing crafts with my kids on a regular basis, read to them every afternoon, plant flowers in the yard together, and cuddle on the couch while our 5-course dinner was cooking each night. That dream quickly fizzled once I found myself with 4 kids under the age of 5. Forget arts and crafts - all of my time was spent diapering a baby, filling sippy cups for the two toddlers, and chasing the oldest around the yard while she picked all the flowers out of our garden.
Of course kids want to spend a lot of time with their parents, but it's how you spend the time that counts, not how much. Don't get hung up on the actual hours. Instead, focus on what you and your kids are doing during your time together. If you're a full-time working parent like I am, focus on the early evening and dinner time. Give up a few chores during the evening hours to play board games, take a walk in the neighborhood, or go on a field trip to the grocery store.
An hour of focused, relaxed interaction is better than a whole day of frantic busyness. So stop worrying about the limits of your time and just make the most of the time you have together.