Parenting Fears And Reality Checks

Parenting is a cacophony of emotions. When you’re not thoroughly worn out from sleepless nights, exhausted from good parenting days, or simply just trying to make it through, there’s always something to worry about. Someone you know lost a child, someone in your area had a child go missing, someone who knows someone who was a really good parent ended up with a junkie-teen. Just like people love to share a terrible birth story, and tend to shun those who had wonderful birth stories, everyone loves to share the bad stories about what happened to someone else, or how another child turned out, and it doesn’t really matter – to some extent – how they were parented, it’s normally the mother’s fault.

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.


It’s the fear of these things that make parents so susceptible to marketing, spending (often wasting) money on the latest gadgets and basically living our lives doing everything we can to prevent something bad, and encourage something good happening to the little people entrusted to us.

The scary thing though? Like most of us, I know this, but I still have three particular fears where my two little girls are concerned:

In no particular order, there’s the fear of death, kidnapping and failure.

cuddlesMost of us know someone who has lost a baby – born or unborn – or a child. I never knew how ‘common’ infant loss was till I became a mother myself. And then, because Ameli’s birth was such an amazing, enriching and empowering experience, I was terrified when Aviya’s turn came. For  months I really worried, almost believed that I would never get to hold her alive. I was so worried something was going to go wrong in her birth. I mean, what are the chances that I could be so blessed, twice.

And now, even though I am a confident second time mother, and even though I am confident and relatively experienced in my use of homoeopathic and herbal remedies over conventional medicines for most of the girls’ minor ailments, when Aviya, specifically, gets ill, this niggely, horrible voice in the back of my head forces me to question myself, reminding me of that ‘feeling’. It takes a lot of pulling myself together to trust my intuition as much with this lovely second child of mine.

While many of us know someone who has been touched by the loss of a child, very few of us – me included – knows personally someone who has had a child kidnapped. And yet, it’s probably one of the biggest fears a parent faces. I can’t imagine how parents who have lost a child this way go on. I can’t imagine the horror. And yet, the statistics on ‘stranger danger‘ and someone doing something to our children are so different to what our fears justify.

stranger dangerIf you’re a parent who lives in the shadow of this fear, I highly recommend Sue Palmer’s book, Toxic Childhood (US Link). It highlights how rare something like a stranger kidnapping really is, but how, because we see the lost and forlorn little face, and the obviously heartbroken parents in our living room, on repeat, day after day after day, it imprints on our brains to the point that we start almost identifying each replay as a new occurrence.  (I actually recommend this book for a ton of other reasons too, it doesn’t make you feel guilty, but does encourage you to see a lot of reality in parenting and child raising. It’s one of my top three parenting book recommendations!)

Failure. Failure is a big one, and we all get it from the day our babies are conceived. Didn’t have a natural birth? Will I be able to bond with my child? Didn’t breastfeed? You and your child will probably both die of cancer. Didn’t babywear? Your poor child will lag behind in literacy for, like, ever. Didn’t co-sleep? Poor kid will have intimacy issues for the rest of their lives. You sent them to nursery school for four hours a week? Oh, the drama. Didn’t send them to a Montessori/Steiner/Waldorf/Forest school?  What kind of parent are you!?

Pretty much everything we do is wrong to someone. Praise your kids? Wrong. Don’t praise your kids? Wrong. Send them to school? Wrong. Keep them at home? Wrong . Feed them grass-fed meat? Wrong. Feed them no meat? Wrong. Make everything from scratch? Did you sprout the grains first? Well… did you?

I think a lot of parenting and enjoying parenting comes down to three things:

Let go – of the things you can’t control. 

Be realistic – in accordance to what’s real, your circumstances and what you can really do

Trust your instinct listen to your child, listen to the voice inside you, and when you’re confident in your choices, no one can make you feel judged. And when you’re not confident, do your own research. 

If you can – if I can – let go of things I don’t control, be realistic about my limitations and abilities, circumstances and finances, and trust that everything I do is for the best of my children and our family, the fears are a lot easier to quell, and motherhood is a much more fulfilling, enjoyable ride.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):

  • When Parents’ Fears Escalate — If we didn’t self-doubt, we probably wouldn’t care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama’s family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son’s future?
  • I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household – that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent – that most parents share – looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear…
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren’t anywhere near as scary as she’d thought.
  • Don’t fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me… — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

 disclaimer for links

A Thank You Note To The Mama Who "Makes Me Feel Bad"

Dear Mommy, Mummy, Mama

Yes, you, Pinterest mom with your amazing photos, your tidy house and your fabulous ideas. You who sees a craft in every story, a game in every chore and an opportunity for gratitude in every unpaid bill. You who goes to the gym, does dancercize and fits into your pre-babies jeans. You, who cooks from scratch, eats clean, and has a raw repertoire. Whose children eat cauliflower pizza base and beetroot coloured icing, and yes, you who works to support your family and still finds the time to remember your girlfriends’ fifth child’s third birthday. All of you, this is a note to say thank you!

Thank you for your wonderful ideas. Thank you for the inspiration you send my way. Thank you for being the foundation I can build ideas for my home and my family on. Thank you for turning this non-crafty mama into a story time machine. Thank you for sharing your inspirations and showing me what you are capable of and therefore what I may be capable of too!

Thank you for the smiles as your naughty elf  gets up to mischief or as your kindness elf opens up a channel for conversation. Thank you for the silly pictures of your super cute offspring doing daft things that remind me that my 4 year old needs a giggle after doing her writing ‘work’ and that my one year old isn’t likely to destroy my pots and pans if she uses them for stacking cups.

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your struggles, your joys, your every day and your once in a blue moon. Thank you for making me feel bad challenging me to be less lazy, to pick a few things up and to try a new activity. To switch off the TV and hand over the glitter pots.

Thank you for making me feel bad by doing such amazing activities highlighting those areas that I need to be more proactive and making me feel bad for not creating certain rituals for opening my eyes to things I never even knew existed. Thank you for making me feel bad by working out five days a week helping me prioritise what’s important to me.

Thank you for helping me realise that you doing what you do to the very best of your abilities isn’t an indictment on me. It’s just you celebrating your strengths as I compare, identify and then celebrate mine! And also for showing me that you can’t make me feel anything, and I own my feelings and should take responsibility for them rather than blaming you for being great.

I hope to never steal your achievements from you by calling what you do for your self and your family “showing off”, or a competition. No, dear mama, I celebrate your victories, and hope you celebrate mine because heaven knows we have enough failures without having to break each other down.

You are perfect in your way, in your latest post, that Facebook update, the photo you tweeted, you have showcased the best of you. Thank you for sharing it with me and thank you for providing the inspiration and motivation to showcase the best of me too.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Let Me Hold Your Hand

How long will it be, till you no longer reach for my hand?
How long until dinosaurs and fairies no longer roam
and you can face everything you fear on your own?

How many more days do I have, picking dandelions with you?
Answering a ceaseless stream of why’s?
‘fore you don’t need my answers at all?20130425-173106.jpg

When will you stop looking to me for all the new things you see?
How long do I have before either I no longer know
or you at least doubt that I do?

How many more days can I keep you playing, in the garden, with frogs,
excited by ‘the most amazing creatures’, common garden bugs
and gross-me-out slugs?

How much time do I have left, to view the world through your eyes?
To see the magical, the beautiful, the every day
in your incredibly sensory way?

How many more days, because it passing too soon, in whirlwinds and torrents and days come to pass.
Hold on for a moment, you’re growing too fast, let me drink it all in, let me sip up my fill
then let me hold your hand, while you allow me to still.


Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello

I realise today, again, that the me I was no longer is. Motherhood has killed off much of my previous self, and while that is sometimes something I struggle with, today I’m feeling acceptance. Rather than resignation to this fact, I feel almost relief, a little bit of joy.

It’s like a clean canvas, on which can be drawn, anything.

It’s like a fire that ravages an old building, from which can be built something new.

Has it taken me two years, almost three, to truly embrace the new me? No, perhaps it’s a process, and perhaps tomorrow I’ll wonder again where on earth this thing is taking me, but with the knowledge that yesterday for a few hours I felt good about the opportunity to start afresh, leaving behind the responsible child I was, the obedient teen, the angry young adult, the partially messed up and at times rather screwy young woman. It’s an opportunity to leave behind destructive habits, negative self-image, painful relationships.

And then it’s an opportunity to start again, to rebuild, to pick through the ashes of an old life, and decide what I want to carry forward with me, what I want to pass on to my innocent children. To determine the outcome rather than drift along on the wind.

The old me has died, and I’ve known that for a long time. Perhaps it’s inappropriate to feel happy on the event of your own death. Perhaps it’s not the done thing to pat yourself on the back. It’s unusual, in the least, to acknowledge that you’re adrift and alone. But the blank canvas, the open road, the endless opportunity fills me with something I recognise as excitement.

Here lies my heart:

I make no apologies.

Long may she live.

Forging A Village In The Absence Of One

I loved packing my bags and boarding the plane for England. My family weren’t there to see me off, since they were living in Malaysia. When they left Malaysia and eventually immigrated to Australia, via a few years back in South Africa, I was already married and living in England. (more…)

Coping With The Guilt Of Motherhood

Melissa asks: How do you cope with the motherly Guilt? I find it the hardest part of being a mum. Guilt imposed by myself and by Others. Work, don’t work, allow chocolate, ban chocolate etc…

Melissa’s question made me think about one of my very early posts, Guilty As Charged, where I wrote about all the things I felt guilty about as a new mother. “My mom told me today that you aren’t a parent till you feel guilty about something.  And there’s so much to feel guilty for”, I wrote at the time.

Now, 15 or so months later, I realise that my approach has changed and my feelings are different, and motherhood has been a much more pleasant experience as a result. There are many reasons, but an oddly simple explanation: I am doing my best.

And that’s not a cop-out statement. On the contrary, it is meant as a motivation, and for me, an ambition to strive for. That also doesn’t mean I never feel guilty about things, but rather use the guilt as a starting point for change.

So what brought around the transformation for me?

  1. I remembered that I’ve never been perfect before, so I won’t be a perfect parent, and I cut myself some slack.It came as a great relief to me, in fact, when one of my parenting mentors, Lauren from Hobomama wrote about how she is not the perfect mother her blog might portray. It made me realise that striving for perfection was putting an unnatural strain on me and on our relationship. That’s not to say that I’m okay with mediocrity, because I’m not, but not beating myself up for my shortcomings as a parent means I have more energy to spend on being a parent, rather than feeling bad about what I don’t or can’t achieve.
  2. It’s not the fall that makes the (wo)man – it’s if and how (s)he gets up again. This is kind of the point of point number 1. No one is perfect, and sometimes, even those who try the hardest do make mistakes – I have screamed at my daughter, I have twice smacked her hand or her bottom when I’ve lost control of my patience, I’ve let a whole 24 hour period go by without changing her clothes, so she spent all day in her pyjamas – all things my ‘perfect’ self wouldn’t do. What makes you (or me) a good parent, isn’t never making mistakes, it’s being able to say sorry, move on and try again.
  3. I don’t do anything ‘just because’. Every parenting decision is based on research, thought and conscious decision.
    If you’re reading my blog, you probably know this already, but I research and read everything, and there are very few, if any, things that we do, practices that we follow and so on that I haven’t looked at from all angles, made a decision on and stuck to. And because of this, I feel that I have at least relative confidence in our choices, thereby lessening the opportunity for guilt.
  4. Guilt is a useless emotionThere is no point to guilt. When I feel guilty about something – and trust me, it happens often – I try to consciously change what it is I feel guilty about. I feel guilty because I’ve spent all morning on the laptop leaving Ameli to entertain herself? Put down the laptop and spend the time I would have wasted feeling guilty, actually spending time with her. It’s an active choice, a conscious decision and it makes a difference.
  5. Escape the politics (and do what works for YOUR child)

    So much of being a mother involves politics. If you do one thing you offend one half of mothers and if you do another you offend the other half. No matter what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong, and yes, your child will be scarred for life because you did do, didn’t do, or thought of doing xyz. Knowing why (point 4) you do what you do makes standing firm in your choice a lot easier, and makes avoiding the politics that much easier too.

    Remember also that there is no ‘one size fits all’ in parenting. What works for me and mine might just not work for you and yours, so don’t waste time and energy comparing yourself and your child(ren) to those around you.

So, in the end, I think the answer is to do the best you can with what you have, and make peace with what you cannot do, or give. If you have to work, don’t feel guilty about it, because guilt exhausts, meaning when you get home you don’t have the energy to spend the quality time you do have effectively. Give chocolate if you want, don’t give it if you don’t – but both in moderation. We don’t allow sweets or sugary drinks in the late afternoon or evening (choice) because the sugar keeps Ameli awake too late, isn’t digested by the body in the evening and isn’t good for her teeth (reason).

By allowing ourselves to feel guilty for all the ways we aren’t as good as we want to be, we lose out on valuable time where we could be meaning something, and doing something positive. By no means does just doing your best mean that you have to compromise on your parenting ideals, but what it does mean is that you’ll cut yourself some slack when you fail, and tomorrow, once you’ve caught your breath, counted to ten, or the next time your child walks into the room, you can apologise if need be, and start again, with a clean slate and no need for guilt.

Whose Baby Is It Anyway?

New parents are bombarded with information from their first visit to a medical professional, throughout their pregnancy and the early days of their babies’ lives. My daughter is only ten months old, and as far as I can tell, this doesn’t stop for some time.

The problem with this is that so much of your pregnancy, birthing experience and early motherhood is influenced and affected by the opinions of the person you’re listening to. And I do specifically use the word opinion, because being a doctor, paediatrician or midwife does not, in fact, make you an authority on any of these.


If I Should Die…

Dear Ameli,

As I lay feeding you tonight, watching your eyes grow heavy and your breath deepen, I wondered what you would want to know about me one day, if I were to die. I imagined you sitting on a beach, lost in thought. I imagined your Aunty coming to you, and I imagined you asking her about me. It made me sad, seeing you there, staring at the stars and the waves, with your toes digging holes and your fingers massaging the sand as I love to do.

I wondered what she would say; what people would tell you, if I were gone.


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