There was a time when I was concerned about Alex’s language. I worried that he was not developing his language at an appropriate rate. I worried that he didn’t know enough words. I worried that his lack of clarity was, well, worrisome.
There was a time when I was concerned about his lack of cuddling. His total disinterest in cuddling made me instantly concerned that something was wrong.
There was a time when I worried that Alex wasn’t smart, wasn’t developing his gross motor skills fast enough, wasn’t something something. I worried a lot.
While I was pregnant, I devoured parenting books. I had an entire stack of them that I read, word for word. I read parenting blogs, was a member of parenting online communities, and made sure to listen to any and all advice that people gave me. I knew, even while pregnant, to not actually use all of the advice that was thrown my way, but I genuinely listened.
I considered everyone else more knowledgeable about parenting than me. I don’t know if it was because I was so young; perhaps it was because Alex wasn’t a “planned” baby; whatever the reason, I thought that I wasn’t prepared to be a mother without educating myself.
So, I read. I listened. I read some more. I searched and found and read some more.
And all of that made me worry. “Why can this other one year old run when Alex can barely walk? Why does this baby seem to understand directions? Why isn’t Alex saying more than simply ‘mama’ and ‘dada?'”
I worried that it was my fault. That I wasn’t nourishing him appropriately.
I don’t know exactly when my worrying changed. It probably wasn’t overnight, but at some point I just let go of it all. I let go of comparing Alex to other kids. I let go of reading “expert” opinions on child rearing. I stopped paying attention when other people gave me advice about how to get my kid to sleep.
It just stopped mattering at some point.
At some point I learned to trust myself. I learned to believe that I could be a parent, regardless of the fact that I was young and inexperienced and blah blah blah.
I would be lying if I said that I never worried. I still worry. I worry that Alex, as a boy who will be the youngest in his class, will struggle in Kindergarten next year. I worry that Alex, who we may decide to keep in preschool for an additional year because of those worries, will do worse in Kindergarten because of boredom.
But I no longer question my ability to parent.
I think part of this change has been recognizing that, regardless of my faults, I have a really amazing little guy. As parents, we are obviously doing something right.