We all have it, to varying degrees, from the moment of conception, under the best of circumstances. These days? Not the best of circumstances.
What I have learned through parenting is this:
Fear does not serve us, and it does not serve our children.
So, how do you find YOUR balance?
Because balance is personal!
The facts, as I pointed out to a honestly terrified dad-to-be yesterday, are that everything will be okay. What exactly okay means will vary. And that? That has actually not changed since March.
How much time and energy you spend living in fear is up to you.
Find the facts.
A short personal story:
I have a beloved child who, when applying to high schools in SF at age 13 answered the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Happy, no matter what.” Every parent’s dream, right? This was what I had raised them to understand. I could have been celebrating. But, what did I do? I went to fear and said “Well, I don’t think that that’s what they’re looking for. No matter what?!” I went to fear, no matter?! If you’re living in a cardboard box?! (because I think that may have been part of their answer.) They changed it to “Be a rock star.” I shut up. Despite lessons, they played no instrument.
They got into every high school that they applied to. They ended up going to the public school of the arts in the creative writing program. I gave them a check for one $10 lesson from a friend-letting go of the fear that the friend would just buy weed, hoping they had no idea what to do with a check! They ended up playing in a band and even toured as the opening act for Deerhoof. They had a great time. They still enjoy playing but aren’t in a band any longer. They are a lovely beautiful competent capable young person.
What are you afraid of?
And again, there is plenty to choose from these days, you do not have to look far. We’ve been talking about this in the shop with the folks who’ve been coming in to shop in a pandemic.
Based on conversations, here are some fears to face, facts to balance and choices:
1st trimester fear: I will lose the pregnancy.
This is a reasonable fear, the facts are real. Can you find balance between hope and letting go? And if you lose a pregnancy, can you give yourself the time that you need and want to grieve?
2nd trimester: not so much fear
This seems to be a sweet spot, moms are through the first trimester and haven’t started spinning as they head towards labor, although some of our mamas in the shop are “precocious”;) and are concerned about all things labor, delivery and first year.
3rd trimester: Worried about labor, delivery and newborn health.
The odds, aka the facts, are good that all will be fine. You will make it through and so will baby. Want to be response able? Read the Stop!Look!Listen! campaign.
A special word to women of color-the odds are not as good, that is a fact. Racism is real and systemic and Black women die at a rate 3 to 4 times higher than white women in America today. So, take a page from the Serena WIlliams’ playbook and be prepared to have to advocate for yourself and do it loudly and proudly. If you don’t know the Serena Williams birth story,know it, all of us should.
Birth: Honestly, by the time you’re in it, you’re IN IT and you don’t have the focus to spend on fear! You can let go.
The first year: Milestones
Just like pregnancy, the odds are good. This is an opportunity to let your child be your child. And really dive into releasing your fears. Comparing and despairing serve no one. This is but the beginning of a wonderful journey. Lean back, relax, enjoy the wonder.
The single most important thing to be as a parent?
If we get caught up in our fears we are not trustworthy.
That’s a fact.
Sarah Pollak has owned and operated Mom’s the Word since the first trimester of her second pregnancy. She has counseled tens of thousands of mothers through style and beyond for 24 years, and has her own parenting journey. Her children are now grown and flown.