Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Self-doubt. Exhaustion.
Why are these so often the badges of modern parenting?
It’s because we care so much. Oh my god, we love them so much.
Wearing these badges doesn’t feel like a choice to me. And I’m a relatively seasoned parent to an 11-year-old son.
Yes, even now, when I drop him off at school, I can still barely stand it: As my car idles at the curb, he scrambles out — throwing his 30-pound backpack over his shoulder — and gives me an “I love you, too.” And then he peeks back at me through the passenger-side window as my car rolls along to wave a bonus goodbye.
I can’t even tell you the double-edged knife that goes through my heart.
I’m relieved — so relieved to be handing him off to his teachers and his day — so I can rest from the responsibility I feel. I can breathe. I can take a break from nagging him about homework, from answering his many questions, from saying the “right” things to a sixth-grader — who will be driving in less than four years and at college in less than eight. I feel this pressure to raise him “right,” to be the parent I’m supposed to be — but so often feel I’m NOT — so that he can thrive, be safe and live happily.
And it all makes me so tired. So I need that break. It’s been like that since he started daycare at 4 months old. But I also die a little bit each time I leave him, just as I did back then.
Because the second I drive out of the school parking lot, I want him back with me. I want him at my side so I can baby him forever. I feel torn in two.
And then I think: How lucky am I to love this deeply, to have this much meaning in my life?
And I vow to STOP DOUBTING myself, lest I miss the chance to enjoy it all.
Sure, we’ve all been told a thousand times: “You’ve got this, Mama.” and “Trust your gut, Mama.”
But it’s hard to believe it. It’s hard to feel confident — to BE confident. And yet, I know my kid needs me to be strong, to step up, to lead, to be someone he can believe in, to be happy and free.
And so, I fake it. And every day, I believe it a little more. And it’s helping. Maybe I am enough. Maybe I am just what he needs.
As you read this issue, I hope we can help you with your parenting journey and ease some fears, too.
My favorite pieces of advice from this issue can be found in our On Behavior column about yoga at bedtime (you have to try “affirmation volleyball”) and our School Days column about doing random acts of kindness for Valentine’s Day.
Both, I predict, will help you savor more sweet moments with your kids. Without a doubt.