Can I be honest for a minute? The thought that I could become a mother any day now, is kind of terrifying. There are all kinds of things that keep crossing my mind, like, how bad is this really gonna hurt? and, a little human being is going to come out of where? But aside from the typical labor/delivery fears are the everyday types of fears. So, in the same vein as one of my favorite pieces titled “Things That Make Me Feel Sexy But Shouldn’t,” I’ve decided to write about things that make me scared to be a mom but shouldn’t, partly in hopes that I will talk myself out of being such a pansy about the little things, but also to admit to myself that yes, I’m scared to be a mom, and yes, that’s okay and normal. Please, don’t judge my irrationality. I’m only human.
1. Teaching Lorelei how to brush her teeth: I had a flashback this morning of what kid toothpaste tastes like, and I almost threw up in the sink. How do I successfully convince my daughter that putting a gel-type substance on a brush and making it froth up in her mouth with water and spit is actually good for her? What if she fights back? What if I accidentally hurt her gums when I’m trying to show her how to brush up and down and side to side, etc.? It truly seems impossible to me, and I feel like I’m going to need to do tons of research before I am capable of teaching someone such an important part of everyday life. Have any of you done this before? I could use a little reassurance here that it’s not as hard as my brain thought it was this morning.
2. Teaching Lorelei how to talk: I still can’t comprehend how babies learn how to communicate. The English language is challenging for so many adults (editing hundreds of college students’ disastrous newspaper articles has made me lose hope in the intelligence levels of my peers), so how in the world can it be manageable for the small people under the age of three to learn tenses and other important grammatical things? I know that a lot of it comes from listening to others and mimicking them, but now I’m going to be super paranoid about using incorrect grammar around my daughter. Why does the world work this way? Why can’t babies be born with the ability to read and talk? Why does this terrify me, someone who loves words, so much? I feel like I should be excited about the chance to be responsible for someone else’s introduction to the English language, but instead I feel pressured to be a perfect example all of the time, and that’s a lot of pressure for someone my size! (And by “my size” I definitely mean my former size. I’m kind of large and in charge at the moment.) I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
3. Too much TV: I am a serious TV addict. I turn it on as soon as I get home and watch it until I just can’t stay awake anymore, and thus I am appropriately terrified that I will pass this somewhat bad habit onto my child and she too will be dependent on TV forever. I’ve already decided that in order to avoid this I simply need to not have the TV on when she’s awake or hanging out with me, just so she doesn’t get too used to it being on all the time, but…I’m scared of what that will be like for me. Does that make me selfish? Should I be embarrassed of my love for TV? Is it Nickelodeon’s fault? Maybe Disney Channel’s? Dare I say my own parents’? All I know is that cutting down on TV might end up being the hardest thing I have to do as a parent. Wouldn’t I be so lucky?
*Writer’s note: After writing this, I woke up the next morning to no cable. Our cable went out, and since we were accidentally getting it for free somehow there’s no way to fix it, and nobody wants to pay for it! I’m totally screwed. Or am I? Maybe this was the only way to get me to prevent myself from passing my TV addiction on to my daughter. Electricity works in mysterious ways, or, I totally jinxed myself.
4. Setting up a bedtime: Bedtime was my absolute least favorite thing as a child. I hated it so much that it would make me quiver with anger, and I’d spend the first hour of it laying in the dark talking to my little sister, and getting in trouble for doing so. Sometimes we’d be so not tired that we’d sneak out into the hallway and watch TV through the slats in the heater vent (I’m seriously not kidding about my TV addiction). I’m scared that Lorelei will be as much of an insomniac as her dad and me and we’ll all just stay awake until 3 a.m. together watching reruns of Friends and weird movies on Comedy Central while we eat quesadillas. That would be so, so horrible to do with a two-year-old. Dear God please let Lorelei like having a bedtime!
5. The possibility that I won’t be able to help Lorelei with her homework because I’ve forgotten how to do elementary math: I’m not horrible at math and I can still do some of the basics, but overall I would definitely not volunteer to be anybody’s go-to math person. Should I buy a couple of math books for myself and start studying up now? Should I make somebody else do that so I don’t have to? Should I be one of those parents who volunteers so I can sit in on her classes and learn alongside her, just so I can help her recall what was discussed? Why am I freaking out about this when she’s still in my belly?? This is a hard one to figure out.
6. The possibility that Lorelei will love McDonald’s as much as I do: French fries have been one of my favorite foods since I can remember. I used to try to get Happy Meals from McDonald’s all of the time – partly for the toys you were supposed to collect, but mostly because I really, really wanted French fries. This habit has not stopped and I try to get my fiancé to pick up McDonald’s for me on a regular basis. I want Lorelei to be healthy, though, so McDonald’s is obviously out of the question, but it’s going to be extremely hard to adjust to life without fries and caramel sundaes. Good thing I have a big girl job and can pick up some McDonald’s on my lunch break when times get desperate. Lorelei will never know.
7. The possibility that Lorelei will hate me: This is a genuine fear that I think most people have when they think about their children becoming teenagers. None of us would say that we were always pleasant to our parents after we hit 13, and we certainly wouldn’t deny having at least entertained the thought of hating them once or twice, and that really scares me. I don’t like being hated, even if it’s just for a little bit. But what scares me even more than the chance that Lorelei will hate me is the chance that I’ll end up gravitating toward “best friend” territory and will be too forgiving of her mistakes as she grows into her own person. I’m pretty easygoing, and I worry that I won’t be strong enough when it comes to disciplining her. That’s how I am when it comes to my cats anyway. I tend to think their misbehavior is endearing. But they’re not trying to experiment with drugs and alcohol, so maybe I shouldn’t critique my parenting style just yet. Oh God. I forgot about the drugs and alcohol aspect of parenting! Maybe I should go stare at the drawers full of baby clothes in the nursery to remind myself that 13 years is a long ways away.
I suppose I’ll stop now, because my plan totally backfired. I didn’t exactly talk myself out of being afraid of these things; rather I exacerbated my fears by trying to make each paragraph long enough. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go research what contractions feel like in case the stomach pains I’m having aren’t really stomach pains at all.