Open Letter to Young Mothers – Please Stop Worrying
I see you in the Facebook groups, you’re worried about:
Does the baby sleep enough? Too much? At the right time? Is it okay that they fall asleep with you? In a stroller? In a car seat?
Is your toddler in the “right” playgroups? Should they be running already? When do you start soccer? Reading? Math? Are you behind already? Are you in the “right” preschool? Will it get you into the “right” school? So they can get into the “right” college?
You worry that you work too much and that you are missing it. You worry that you quit work and that you’ll won’t be able to go back when you’re ready. You worry that your nanny isn’t kind enough to your child. You worry that your nanny is unkind. You worry about whether daycare is good enough, right enough, just enough.
You post photo after photo of your child, you are sad that they are growing up so fast. Are you missing it? Are you enjoying it enough? Is everyone else doing it better than you?
A few things I have learned from raising four kids, I’m not done yet, and I’m learning all the time, but here is what I know for sure:
You are doing it right. You are. If you are doing it with love, you are doing it right. The school, the sleeping, all of it. There is no “right” way. Please throw away the books and stop comparing yourself to what other moms are doing. If you are doing it with love, you are doing it right.
You will love them more each day, month and year. You aren’t “missing” anything. I love my daughter more at 19 than I did at 4. You don’t lose them as the grow, they just get better. Only now she appreciates the nice clothes I buy her and never rolls around on the floor screaming that she won’t wear them. I don’t miss her being younger because I love her so much right now my heart could explode. Please relax and try to enjoy it if you can, and if you can’t, it’s ok. Four year olds are the WORST. It’s ok to be on Facebook while they play with Calico Critters or whatever they play with now, playing with little kids is BORING.
Learn to say no. To your child, to the PTA, to the Junior League, to anyone that wants time and energy from you that you don’t really want to give.
Take the word SHOULD out of your vocabulary. “I should be making organic cookies for the bake sale.” “I should be driving four hours every weekend so my five year old can play on a travel team.” “I should be doing more, being more, giving more.” When you hear yourself say SHOULD, know that it means you don’t really want to, and guess what, you don’t have to and the world will not end, I promise.
Stop the insanity about schools. I have watched my friends tutor, private coach and support their kids’ way into Ivy Leagues, the kids are miserable. I have spent countless hours at dinner parties discussing private schools, college applications and acceptances. Guess what? It really doesn’t matter. If your child needs a tutor to keep up, get them one. Outside of that, let them find their way. High school today is what college was for us. The kids are doing AP level classes and all they hear is that if they don’t get a good grade in one class, it will ruin their GPA, ruin their chances to get into the “right” school and therefore, they will become hobos. And guess who is telling them this? We are. We need to stop. I didn’t go to the “right” school. Did you? I am also not currently a hobo. Your child will succeed based on their skills, skills they need to learn themselves by doing their own work and by failing sometimes.
If they don’t want to do it, don’t make them. I spent years forcing my poor gay son with zero ball handling skills to play team sports, because that’s what was “good for him.” He was miserable, so was I. So much wasted time and energy. It’s ok to quit. I promise.
If you don’t want to do it, don’t. Don’t like cooking? Buy pre-made meals, no one will die. Don’t like playing barbies, cars, whatever? Don’t, did your mom play with you? Mine didn’t. Don’t want to volunteer even though you have the time and feel you “should”? Don’t.
These are things I wish I had known when my children were younger and I was so worried that I could hardly enjoy life. And guess, what? You SHOULD be enjoying life because we all only get one go around at this magical existence. So to quote Mary Oliver “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?“ I hope it isn’t making cookies you don’t want to and worrying about your five year old’s ball handling skills. God bless you mama, you are already doing enough.