My friend from high school called me, frantic about a discipline issue he was having with his kindergartner. I talked him off the ledge, knowing how difficult some stages of parenting are. In a follow-up conversation a few months later, that sweet little girl was doing just fine. And my friend told me, “I feel bad that I even stressed about it.” To which I replied, “That will be the title of my parenting memoir.”
The amount of things I’ve worried about that I did not need to worry about is immeasurable. Especially with my first-born child, when every stage is new and terrifying.
My oldest son once got his front tooth knocked out, thanks to his younger brother head butting him. I lost sleep over that snaggle tooth, and one day, the new tooth grew in perfectly fine. He was the shyest little kid and would hide behind me at every social function. Convinced other moms were silently judging me for this, I tried every form of bribery to make him bolder. A decade later, with more confidence than I will ever have, he asked the sweetest girl to homecoming and had the best time. Awkward stages. Weird habits. Sleep
deprivation. Potty training woes. Hygiene. Friendships. Lack thereof. Sports teams. Birthday parties. School choices. If it’s possible to stress about it, I’ve stressed about it. And then some.
Yet life has a funny way of working out just fine. And usually it’s even better than expected even when it’s unexpected. Hygiene issues are miraculously cured when a cute girl captures his attention. Friends come and go, and some stay a long time. It’s all part of life. All kids eventually sleep. And discover what they love. And pee in the toilet. (Well, near-ish the toilet in my house.) I tell myself that, if all of those years ago, I had a glimpse of the people my children would become, I would have relaxed and enjoyed the ride a lot more.
But now I am worried about college and future careers and if I’ve adequately prepared my offspring to be contributing members of society. I lose sleep wondering if there’s any correlation between barely passing algebra and career success later in life. So in a decade or two, I am sure I will find myself saying, “I feel bad that I even stressed about it,” when my children are amazing adults with good jobs, and their own kids to worry about—and they call me frantically asking for advice on how to calm a colicky baby. At that point, I will worry about whether or not my children are getting enough sleep (again) and making enough money and investing in their marriages. And anything else I can think of, I’m sure.
They will always be my children. It will always be my job to stress. Even though I know I shouldn’t. Because life has a funny way of turning out just fine. It seems as if that parenting memoir is going to write itself.