A woman’s life changes incredibly when she becomes a mother. She grows a life inside of her for nine months, brings it out into the world, and suckles it at her breast. Quite frankly, it’s amazing an experience.
But with having a baby comes a whole change in how you perceive yourself. Before I was pregnant, if I wanted to do something crazy, I could do something crazy. But when you’re completely responsible for another little person’s life, you can’t do crazy stuff anymore. It’s nothing to pout about (although some people do) – it’s just a change. So, while my son was growing up, I had a motorcycle purse, motorcycle boots, and some motorcycle T-shirts, but I didn’t have a motorcycle. But when he was grown up, out of the house, and in the military, I decided to get down and get a bike!
One of the big challenges facing new mothers is a tendency to worry. Moms worry a lot, and I definitely did my fair share of it. I get calls every now and then from somebody who has a relatively newborn infant and has dreams or nightmares of their child dying. They feel anxiety about their responsibility, and worry about being able to fulfill it. It’s scary.
However, usually by the third time somebody has a kid, they don’t have those anxiety dreams anymore and sort of just know how to handle it.
But if you are one of those worrying-mother types, I have some tips to help you stop worrying so much:
First of all, worrying about somebody or something is not a sign of caring. Your worrying only becomes a burden on everyone around you, especially your kid, who has to try to make you feel better. It can be very stultifying. Instead, show that you care by doing special things, saying special things, and spending special time with your child. That’s how you show you care – don’t just worry.
Next, realize that worrying has no power to stop bad things. Worrying doesn’t create bad things, and it doesn’t prevent bad things from happening – it has no power over bad things. Generally speaking, if whatever you’re worried about indeed happens, it probably won’t be as bad as you thought it would be. Just think back to other times you’ve worried about something. Didn’t things turn out all right? Wasn’t it not as bad as you thought, or it didn’t even happen at all?
In addition, you have to accept that some things are simply out of your control. There’s a lot in the universe you have no power over. It’s annoying, but it’s true. You have to accept that to a certain extent, it’s just part of the game. If you did all you could within your power to make something happen and it didn’t, all you can do is say you did your best.
When you start worrying, you really have to distract yourself. You need to rely on the support system of your girlfriends, exercise, or do a hobby. You need to put your nervous energy into something productive because there’s nothing productive about worrying (because as I said, you have no power). Moms who spend their time worrying end up contributing 120 percent of themselves to mothering and put nothing in to taking care of themselves. It’s like putting your brain into a tiny little box – of course it’s going to stress and strain to get out.
One of the things I discovered when I was under a lot of stress was that if I would just take a walk with my dogs (no cell phone, no iPod…nothing), I would feel a whole lot better. Exercise is a natural stress reducer. It doesn’t have to be vigorous – it could just be going on a walk in the sunshine or strolling through the snow.
If you don’t engage in your self-care, you can’t do whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. If the tool (you) is broken, it can’t get the job done right. If you’re fit to be tied, you’re not going to be a very nice person.
Last but not least, accept that worrying is part of reality. Remember not everything is going to go the way you thought it would or should. Kids make mistakes, stuff happens, and there are some things in life that you simply have to accept. Of course there’s always going to be a little bit of shoulder shrugging, but don’t drive yourself up the wall.