Monday, June 16, 2014

does motherhood scare you?



If you're not a blogger you may be interested to know that I can see exactly what search terms direct readers to my blog. Lately there has been a distinct theme: fear of the third child. Readers have typed in the following: "scared for 3rd child" "having third child and nervous" and "having my third baby terrified me". I'm presuming they ended up at this post and were confronted or comforted by the plethora of comments. 

Fear is a pertinent topic during pregnancy; I discuss it weekly with my prenatal students. But when it comes to motherhood the topic tends to get laughed off or easily dismissed. And yet, for me, fear is still a very real part of motherhood and I easily get caught up in it; I think about how I'm parenting almost daily, I think about raising children through the school years, guiding teenagers through (deep breaths, can't go there just yet).

I went to see my GP the other day for my annual check up and she asked me what it was like to solo-parent for 13 weeks. She knows me well; understands that I can get anxious and overwhelmed, so she was genuinely surprised when I told her that I just got on with it because I had no other choice. I didn't have the time (or the energy) to wallow in the difficulty of it - jobs needed to be done, children needed to be cared for and dinner needed to be cooked. It was a brilliant lesson in mindfulness; not the stop what you're doing and meditate kind but the practical, everyday this is what I'm doing now and I'm going to focus on it till it's finished kind.

But still, that fear. The best way for me to deal with it when it arises is to talk about it. Daniel and I will often discuss our parenting fears: did we say the right thing? how will we feel if this, this and this happens? how should we approach this? will he question the reality of the tooth fairy because we forgot to take the tooth? (this happened a few nights ago).

Right now I still have fear about having a third child. I also fear the social commentary that accompanies a child who excels in the arts but can't run to save his life. And apparently being a mother is the most important job in the world - how's that for pressure?!

So, what scares you at the moment? And if you aren't yet a mother, what scares you most about motherhood?


51 COMMENTS

  1. It's so good to read that I'm not the only one! Our six year old has been giving us a run for our money lately. Some of it I can put down to growing pains, sore teeth and general tiredness, but the rest of the behavior has me questioning every move I make!! I wish I knew exactly where the line is between discipline and squashing a child's spirit!

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    1. I never knew a six-year-old could display the attitude of a teenager. I'm still coming to terms with it x

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    2. My six year old is the same! I've heard that the 6/7 year old "change" is a little like puberty. Where's the manual for all this!?!?!

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    3. I don't have a six year old, but I've read Raising Boys and it's a great insight into the changes boys go through at each each. Might help?

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    4. Mine is 4, not 6, but I was going to say something similar. She is adjusting to having a new little brother (baby#2) and is testing the boundaries big time with her ramped-up toddler antics. My parent fear right now is that we're squashing her spirit with the constant reprimanding, I'm sick of the sound of us saying "No" or "Don't do that". I feel like a killjoy sometimes. But you know, there's a newborn in the house and a running, loud toddler sometimes isn't conducive to that baby getting sleep and peace (or us having a much-needed 15 minute break! ).
      There's always something to fear as a parent. It's a tough gig.

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  2. We had to spend the night in hospital last week with my 4 month old. That was terrifying. Only for observation as she had stopped feeding from a chest infection luckily. And of course it was my (now) 4 year olds birthday the next day. And my 6 year old was feeling left out. Three is definitely hard and scary. The juggle changes everyday. Sometimes the ball gets dropped, sometimes ALL the balls get dropped, but now they are all here I wouldn't want it any other way. Like you say in this post, you just get on with it and do what needs to done and enjoy the ride!

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    1. I hope your little one is on the mend x

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  3. I've just had my 4th baby & the fear of parenting never goes away. My kids are 14,11, 14 months & 6 weeks old & on a daily basis I'm worried I'm doing something wrong. You'd think by now I'd be a pro but nope! Right now I am most fearful of how I'll cope with them all on my own when my MIL leaves this week & my husband flies back to work the week after & he's gone for 4 weeks at a time. I'm fearful that I won't be able to be the mum I want to be because I'm just so darn busy & tired. I'm fearful one, or all bar the youngest, will feel left out. But mostly I just fear I'll fail as a good mum which is silly but it's real.....

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    1. Congratulations on the birth of your littlest, Reannon. I think we all fear failure but I also think we're living in a time where our parenting ideals are HIGH (and almost impossible to reach). There have been many times in my mothering journey where I've had to go right back to basics - as in simple food, cuddles, love. Maybe keep that in mind over the next few weeks. I'll be thinking of you x

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    2. Thanks Jodi. You are so completely right about our ideals being so high. I'm trying very very hard to let go of some of mine without feeling like I'm letting go of who I am. It's hard but necessary.

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  4. I definitely don't fear the navigation from baby to adulthood. Having gotten one child through to 18 (the others are 15 and 2) I know there will be things I get wrong. But I accept that and do my best to fix any thing that I can.
    I do fear how others will treat them and view them, that it's out of my control how they're treated in the wider world. But I guess the best I can do is give them a soft place to rest away from the outside world.

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    1. Lila, I'd love to know how you maintained an open dialogue with your 18-year-old. Were all topics discussed? Appreciate your thoughts x

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    2. It definitely ebbs and flows, especially as she's moved out of home now. I think that family meal time is a great place to keep most discussions open, especially if you've made talking part of dinner time from when they're little.
      For me (and by no means do I think I've gotten it all right) the biggest thing is not dismissing their point of view. Treating their input respectfully is so important to keeping their trust and keeping discussion open.
      That being said with all of the hormones and angst there will likely still be times where you are shut out, the best we can do at those times is make sure they know that we're ready and waiting for when they need us.
      You'll find that the ways to approach it as with most parenting varies according to each child's personality too.
      I could go on for days with this, but those are the key points. Feel free to message me if you think there's anything you'd like to know about my experience.

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  5. I am still coming around that we will be welcoming baby 3 in a few short months I am scared at what life will have in stock for us, so many things have to change just so we can manage & that worries me.

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    1. Oh, congratulations! One day at a time x

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  6. I was scared till very recently of becoming my own mother - of doing what was done to me. I've had a lot of help though and now feel much stronger inside that I will still be imperfect as a mother but not quite as bad in the role! I was also afraid I'd hit the other extreme and also cause other problems - you know smothering and over-parenting. Now I feel my centre and know myself a whole lot more and feel ready to embark in the hopefully in the not too distant future. it's been a long time coming. A mothers' love sometimes begins way before her children are conceived and for me it will be a whole new chapter, a new era even. I can't wait to turn the page x

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    1. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this comment. I worry not so much becoming my mother but going what she went through - depression, self-loathing and much worse. I see having children as such a big part of the cause of that, and I am terrified It will happen to me. She loved us, but she hated herself. It makes me not want to have children!

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    2. Hello Seldom,

      So nice of you to say. I recently came to a place where I realised it was already inside. By that I mean the love, the capability to love. It's fear that disallows it to express itself. You will find that place of knowing too. I am sure of it. After all, by being aware of what you don't want to happen you are automatically aware of what you do want to happen. I send you a hug and strength. x

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    3. By capability to love I mean to both give and receive. Self love is just as important as the love of others - as you know more than most x

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    4. Mary and Seldom, thank you for sharing your fears in such a transparent conversation. May the new chapter be honest and full of love x

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  7. Currently pregnant with our 2nd & finding the emotional rollercoaster of the third trimester really impacting my ability to cope with a teething 2 year old! Fearing coping with two little ones is keeping me up at night - glad to know it is normal :)

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  8. I definitely try to just take it all one day at a time. Most recently I've been fearing that loss that comes with the arrival of another family member - in terms of time to spend with my two eldest, as I tend to baby's needs etc. It is a hard transition and I just hope I can 'spread' enough of myself around so everyone feels the love. My biggest fear of all however, is an unwell child. I try to remind myself to be grateful for good health every day. xx

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  9. I fear the unknown, if something was to happen I fear how I would deal with it. To be honest this is holding me back from having a second child, I hope one day soon I can gain the courage and trust myself that no matter what happens I am being the best Muma that I can be. Parenting by heart sometimes holds me emotionally fearful.

    Qew xx

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  10. Knowing that I can't protect my boys completely forever.
    Ronnie xo

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  11. I was so worried about having a second child.
    Now I am pregnant and I just know that it will all be fine…that our family needs one more…and I am grateful that there is a new being growing inside of me.
    I am of course anxious about how we will all adjust. But I know that we will adjust and that we will get there…we have shown that we are a pretty good team!

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  12. Oh, of course! Motherhood is terrifying because I have everything to lose by getting it wrong... and I get it wrong much more often than I would like.

    xx

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  13. Holy moly, of course! I'm completely terrified most of the time... to be honest, it borders on serious anxiety for me and I only hope it subsides a bit once I stop breastfeeding and get some 'normal' hormones back! I wouldn't worry about having a son who is better in the arts than in cross country... my brother was the same - he even failed P.E. - and is now an executive at one of our country's major cultural institutions. :) You're doing a great job.

    Linda. x

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    1. Oh those breastfeeding hormones are powerful...in retrospect I honestly believe I breastfed Poet for too long - my mental and emotional health suffered. In regards to Che....he just takes after me and there's nothing wrong with that ;) x

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  14. I had a cranio sacral treatment today and found myself talking about my fears for my boys when they are teenagers, they are 4 & 7!! The wise woman and mother of 3 teenagers doing the treatment for me suggested I needed to meditate and rest more and to practice "being in the now". Yep.

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    1. Meditate, rest more and be in the now - very good advice! x

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  15. We have a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old and thought about having a third baby for almost two years. After much Googling, reading blogs of parents in the same situation (including yours) and those of others who already have three, we decided to take the plunge. I'm now 13 weeks pregnant and while I'm still scared of what's to come, I decided I wouldn't be able to live with the regret of not having a third. I'm taking it all day by day. I look forward to the day you'll announce your third pregnancy (because I know you eventually will)!

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  16. I'm not yet a mother, but I've always believed that I'd like to raise three or four children. I grew up in a family of four kids; my husband in a family of three; my dad has seven siblings and my mom has four. It seems natural to me to have a large family, and it truly is what I want. It still terrifies me, though. What scares me the most is the massive commitment since I am also a person who is easily overwhelmed. As an introvert, I get anxious and irritable when I don't have enough 'me' time to draw, paint, or read, or just sit in stillness. I'm afraid I'll let stress get the better of me. But I want children so badly, so I'm going to trust that I'll make it work somehow. I think my mantra will be "one day at a time." :)

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  17. Hi Jodie, thanks for this post. I'm halfway through my first pregnancy and it's so glorious and overwhelming at the same time! I hope I have the strength and the ability to learn my kid to be strong, beautiful, giving human beings. How to give them the right "education" in a world that is changing so fast and can be so cruel, is haunting at times. Another fear is how this will affect my relationship with my husband. Being aware of this, is already a good thing, but it keeps me thinking. Thanks for your Inspiration in this blog! Barbara

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  18. What a refreshing post! Thank you for the honesty and openness. Right now we have a 15 month old boy and are expecting twins (EEK) in a handful of month. I have many fears about having 3 children under the age of 2, as well as the health of the twins. You're right, the best way to deal with fear is talk about it. It takes away the power.

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  19. my son recently turned one and i've had many friends who are also mothers tell me how much "easier" and "more fun" children are after age one. the thing is, his infancy & baby-baby stages weren't all that hard. like you said, "I just got on with it because I had no other choice" and since i had "no choice", i made the best of it. but what i'm afraid of now that he's older is "parenting" him {versus "mothering" him, which came surprisingly naturally} he's a bright boy, independant, curious, and strong-willed. making sure he developes those traits into assets is the important and terrifying task my husband and i have been charged with. what if i protect him too much? what if i'm coddling him? what if i'm not stern enough? or too lenient? these are the concerns that worry me.

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  20. thank-you for writing about this! right now i am getting ready to welcome our second child, and i am frantically trying to get my crap together as a parent. i lay awake and wonder if i am too easy on my pre-schooler, if i am doing the right or wrong things when i discipline her... if sending her to pre-school is good move? if all the tantrums we incur are just a side effect of how much sugar she is eating, or maybe it's all gluten-related? I stay awake and talk my husband's ear off, and while I fear he thinks I might be overly-sensitive, or a little crazy, throughout our days I can see he has similar fears - as well as some of his own that he is dealing with. I don't think any parent is immune to it, no matter how confident they may appear, so thank you for opening it up for discussion!

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  21. My fear is that as soon as my boys misbehave people will think I'm doing a terrible job as a parent. I feel really helpless sometimes as I attempt to discipline. When I'm at home and it's just them and things mostly go smoothly and I feel like I do a really good job communicating with them but as soon as we're out (or visiting the inlaws as we are at the moment for a month) I get anxious if they act or out or behave badly as if it's some reflection on me.

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  22. I have a 20 month old and number 2 due in a couple months. My biggest fear is that I will be too impatient, too lazy, too selfish, too stressed (and on and on...) to give them the childhood that I truly want them to have. I do think I may need to loosen up on some of my ideals, but I just know that I don't want to raise them how I was raised (no communication, just going along with society's norms...) and I'm afraid that I will end up doing it anyway, because it will be "easier" (which, I don't really believe it would make anything easier, but it's familiar. If that makes any sense)

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  23. i love seeing the search terms that bring people to my blog. they are always interesting and usually sort of funny. i am terrified of having just one more baby which would bring me to 2! total!

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  24. I'm having #5 at nearly 40. I think having older children while pregnant has given me more confidence--seeing my kids offers of help now that I am bulging and feeling useless, their excitement for the baby,etc.--but I am unsure how I will have the energy to do this all again. I know the work and parenting put in in those early years are the things that make the teenage years that much better...and I worry how much I will depend on my kids to help in ways that seem almost unfair to me. Otherwise, I really look forward to watching all the sibling interactions.

    I think everyone is at least a little scared of motherhood if they are being honest.

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  25. i'm an old mom :)! two girls, one entering her senior year of h.s. next fall, the other starting law school in a couple of months.

    like you, i worked out of my home. i had a photography business for twenty years-very labor/time intensive, constantly overbooked....b&w film, medium format, darkroom, handtinting, available light shooting only. not only did i have constant anxiety attacks about getting business done,i had major guilt about how i felt i was always shoving my girls aside to get work done (found out after i "retired" that the girls had a sense of pride & ownership in my business. they were very sad when we moved & i decided not to continue the business.

    i found that if i would jump out of bed a few hours before the girls got up, put on my exercise clothes (so i would be ready to grab a workout whenever time allowed) and go into my darkroom or work at my drafting table i felt like i had a little control over life.

    i would never have made it without a great group of girlfriends/moms who would always step in to help with the girls when needed (i did the same for them). one thing we did for years: at least once a week, someone would call & say they had a huge amount of "kid supper", bring your children over to eat with us. the kids would eat together, (when they were little we would throw them all in the bathtub together and put their p.j's on), then let them play together for an hour or so. AND, the moms would hang out, drink wine and just chat/commismerate. these moments saved my sanity!!!

    sounds like you are handling things well!

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  26. It's never ending isn't it, the fear and doubt about whether we're doing it right. It starts before you even become a parent and lasts forever after I'm sure. I've talked a lot on my blog about parenting through my kids different phases, and I say it all the time, I'm just so glad Nick and I have each other to talk things through, settle our fears and reassure one another. I'm fairly certain I have a new worry every day, and just like you during your single parenting time, I have to focus and work through it as we go, theres no escaping just tackle it head on. Today, its my eldest suddenly being frightened of predators after a story spread through our area recently, its very real but I don't want him to live in fear and feel unsafe in his own town, but at the same time he needs to be aware of the dangers, urgh, part two awaits me after school..x

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  27. I have four children, 15, 14, 13, and 1. The thing I fear most is that they won't trust their instincts and intuition, and follow their own path. So much of their childhood I felt the need to guide, and pave their way, instead of teach them to trust themselves. I did a lot of " molding" rather than listening. It's been recent that I've changed my approach...maybe my real fear is that I've done it all wrong. I know logically that this is not the case, but it niggles the back of my mind from time to time

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  28. As much as it's awful when my children are ill, my worst fear is getting ill myself and not being able to look after them and give them the love they need. I also worry I don't embrace their "them-ness" enough, feeling the pressure for them to be nice, polite, placid etc and not letting them be happy, rambuncious children.

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  29. Oh Jodi, I love that you are always honest when it comes to talking about motherhood experiences! I agree that a lot of mums (or mums-to-be) easily laugh off these topics or just dismiss them when they come up, and I remember thinking that it must just be ME who struggle with the fears and constant doubts that come with parenthood.

    Our first baby is not so much a baby anymore - nearly 2, and obviously that thought of "should we have another baby soon?" has come up in my mind repeatedly. Part of me truly and genuinely wants another little one running around the house, but there's that small bit of (selfish) me that doesn't want things to change yet again. When we had Scarlet, it rocked our world. Nobody had spoken to me about the hardships and difficulties of being a mother, and I really struggled to find my feet in the beginning. Now it feels like I've been doing this job forever; I can't picture joy through any other form "work", but not going to lie... the thought of a 2nd baby at the moment, is a little bit overwhelming!

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  30. Jodi, I love everything you write but this one is my favourite! I do lot of solo parenting due to hubby's long travels and work ...so I knew hpow it would have been for you to do it for 13 weeks! and I did think about you the other day when I was on day 15 of solo parenting and admired you so much more for keep going...as you said, you get on with it ! I do, because there is no choice...I dropped my daughter at nursery today even though she is just recovering from chicken pox because I couldn't do it and it scared me to be a mom who couldn't give all of it at this moment ...but i knew its good for all of us, me my 4month old baby and a 2.6year toddler! Yes, motherhood scares me even when I know I give my 100 percent 24/7 ! xxx

    Ritzx

    www.bebenus.com

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  31. I am a mother of three, 16, 14 and 2. What scares me the most is, school! I hate the German school system which is so unfair and competing in a really bad way. Homeschooling is not allowed around here by law. Most of the "problems" we have with our big kids arise from school, teachers an peer groups.
    I wish I could even save our youngest from that, but no, no chance!

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  32. I have a highly sensitive, first-born preschooler, who is more needy of me both emotionally and in terms of cuddles and physical nearness than his younger toddler sister. Right now I am afraid that I don't have the ability to meet that neediness. How will I manage to raise him to be a confident person who appreciates his own unique qualities and is happy in himself? I don't know and that scares me!
    Because of this I live in terror that we should get pregnant with a third!!!

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  33. I guess I fear the whole idea that parenthood is so out of our control most of the time. I mean, from conception, you wait and wait for that test to have 2 lines.. You plan around it because you think that makes you prepared. Then when you finally are pregnant, it is just the beginning of a roller coaster ride of "no control". What sort of birth you will have, breast or no breast.. Right now it's baby number 2 or not? Do we wait a while or do we go for it? Is there such a thing as "too late"?

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  34. I have only one child, a two year old, and I feel overwhelmed sometimes. When friends who had their first at the same time tell me they're expecting a second, my first feeling is sympathy, and then I realise that for everyone else it's wonderful news. I just would not be able to cope with a second right now.
    I'm in awe and envy of mamas like you who make it look so easy. Three kids *and* a career *and* a blog that is entirely wonderful. I have this hope that in future I'll have my anxiety and emotions in control enough to go for it and have a second - perhaps once Orla starts school.
    Thanks for the inspiration. Thought provoking, for me.

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