We were at a family function a couple of weeks ago, and my husband and I had relinquished baby duty to her ever-doting grandmother. Since our distance makes this a rare occurrence, we were really relishing the time to sit and relax in the sun, visiting with other relatives, without chasing around after our newly-mobile one-year-old.
At some point, as the newly-walking set are prone to do, my daughter fell down and let out a cry (more of frustration than anything, I am sure). At the time, I had my back to her, so only knew that my daughter was crying and immediately rose to evaluate the situation. My cousin’s new husband, who had seen the fall, had already started reassuring me before I was half way out of my chair.
“Don’t worry. She’s fine. Don’t worry.”
Obviously, he hasn’t spent a lot of time with me yet.
It seems like, since deciding to become a parent, I have done nothing but worry.
“Are we ready?”
“Will we be good enough?”
“Is it selfish to bring someone into the world just because we want to be parents?”
And it didn’t stop when she got here, either. Every possible decision seems to take on the most insurmountable gravity. And we have books—so many, many books. We have books about baby gear, baby food, baby sleep, baby play, and baby discipline. I can’t tell you how many nights my husband and I have laid in bed together discussing the best way to deal with our awake and crying daughter (Pick her up, and she’ll never learn how to get healthy sleep! Leave her to cry and she’ll develop trust issues! You must decide which way you’ll impair your child tonight!), the discussions I have had with my friends about when to introduce certain foods, the amount of time I have obsessed over which products are best to clean my house, use on my daughter’s skin, etc.
And intellectually, I know that she will not grow a third eye if her organic whole milk gets replaced with 2% from the convenience store for a couple of days. And, in my weak moments, if I resort to one or two episodes of Sesame Street, there’s still a small chance she’ll beat the odds and get into college some day. But emotionally, these little things feel like transgressions—breaches in the contract I made to be an amazing parent when I decided to bring her into the world. And this is funny, because if one of my friends called me with the same set of fears I would call them ridiculous and assure them it was all fine. Because it is, right?