Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, Rossana Unson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
Being a mother scares me.
I know it scares every mother out there too, I see it in the way random moms I meet and mom friends ask questions with answers you think should be intuitive, or actually point out something wrong with the way I parent.
In the three years since I’ve had little bub, I’ve been told that I shouldn’t have mix fed, that scheduled activities before she turned one are detrimental to her development, that I made a big mistake getting her an iPad or buying her so many toys, that I must leave her to feed herself even if she ends up not eating a bite, that there are vaccines I should have delayed, that I shouldn’t give her usual medicines and go for homeopathic, and the list goes on. I used to take offense when I’m given unsolicited advice, but recently I’ve become more understanding of what us moms are going through nowadays—I know where you’re coming from, I feel it too. I’m afraid of almost everything the Internet tells me is bad for my child.
It’s a grand time to be a mother nowadays with information readily available at a swipe of a finger. But with the bevy of studies, articles, and posts on the do’s and don’ts equally comes the counter statements, not to mention the backlash on this new uptight mother era; what are we to believe, and why do opposing voices just end up contributing to the compounding fear that comes with our child’s every milestone?
So the anxiety grows turning us into nit picky, judgmental moms. We’re really all two sides of the coin with some just more blatant at presenting their ideals than others.
For me, apprehension has turned into a nagging feeling that rears its head in the middle of the night after the euphoria of every laugh, the doubts in every tear, and the guilt in every outburst we share with our kids. “Am I fit for all of this? Am I really doing everything in my power to raise my child the way I should?”
Fear, it seems, is a negative emotion that we have to constantly put in its place when it toys with our thoughts, even with the most minute of situations. “You shouldn’t have allowed her to watch too much TV today or she’ll turn stupid.” “You let her out off the car seat in the middle of the highway. Again. Can’t you be more firm about it?” The inner debate ensues until a research or a word from fellow moms dispels or confirms your thoughts.
The thing is, fear is also healthy. To fear makes us aware of what can be changed and be better. Fear pulls us back in our place when we’ve treaded the line of going overboard. I was so close to screaming, “f*ck it” and just go with however I want to raise my baby. But that’s irresponsible on my end. I’ve seen how that mentality turned out for other children. We all have that troubled friend with parents who were rarely present in their lives.
So I say embrace the anxiety, just as you embrace the beauty that comes with being a mother. It’s not supposed to always be flowers and butterflies. It’s not always about how the kids fit into our lifestyles and choices.
Parenting is hard work, and just like any job we consider important, we stress about it, give our best, and celebrate the rewards of our efforts. Feel the fear and let that stir your gut into what is best for your kids. Read up and research and check your resources. Be ready for what is to come. And let’s continue to help each other with what we can share. Voice out your concerns if you have to. Let there be healthy discourse.
We are raising human beings, anyway. We owe mankind to bring up decent individuals who can actively change the future.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.