Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The scary side of parenthood

This is another post about getting away from the “sweet baby” page. A “sweet baby” page (as I call them) is a pretty pages with a cute baby picture and a big title reading “sweet baby.” I have nothing against them. Many of them are really gorgeous, with a coordinating color scheme and heartfelt journaling. And down the road, giving your kids a personally crafted book is certainly much better than handing them a shoebox full of pictures or, as I dread many of today's technology-driven young parents will do, CD's and memory cards. I have many “sweet baby” pages in my albums that I am quite proud of. Yet scrapbooking is also a form of personal expression for me, which means that I have to include the sad, infuriating, and downright scary aspects of parenthood.

I think every parent has had some scary moments. I find it therapeutic to write about them when they really bother me. I certainly felt better after making this page. Maybe some people would like to write about it, but not for their kids or house guests to see. I've heard some scrapbookers suggest that you make a personal album to store away. I don't have one right now, but I have put away some pages that I wasn't comfortable displaying. It's nothing “inappropriate” and I don't have any dark secrets, but I wouldn't necessarily want everyone who visits my house to be reading my thoughts and opinions about everything. I AM comfortable putting this particular page on my coffee table (duh, it's on my blog). I think that it's a pretty universal experience for us moms and dads.

The journaling reads:

A friend of mine who has been married for about 10 years says she is afraid to have kids. I realize now that this is a perfectly rational feeling. I would be wrong to tell her that her fears are ungrounded and that everything turns out fine. Pregnancy and childbirth come and go rather quickly, but motherhood is a lifetime of decision making that we will be held accountable for. Success in other areas of life cannot make up for bad parenting and one wrong move can destroy my life forever. Before I had kids, I had only my own death to worry about. Yet in reality, dying is not that scary. I won't suffer after my own death. But having children means I have a far worse fate to fear – the death of my own children, particularly if is caused by my own neglect.

There have been several recent failures on my part to protect my kids. Last week, Sophia fell off her bike without a helmet and probably got a mild concussion. Then today, Thomas escaped from me at the zoo and I had to face the shame and embarrassment of having someone else bring him back to me. These are things that make me feel completely worthless as a mother and as a human being. I get so depressed I just want to throw in the towel, declaring myself incompetent and let some institution take over.

Yet on the positive side, it gives me a wake-up call. Nothing serious happened to them, and I have the opportunity to make sure it doesn't happen again. It also puts my priorities in perspective. Staying home to care for children is not a vacation. It needs to be taken seriously and should be my first priority. I don't need to excel at hobbies or win footraces to prove my worth. Even raising just one child would be all I need to be important, and I am blessed with two! There should be no room for boredom or self-absorbed anxiety. So, we're just going to make sure we wear helmets and go slowly.

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