By Gretchen Gammeter, SJ4H Board Member
When my husband and I got pregnant, I had this idea that it was going to be fairly easy. Okay, before you roll your eyes at me, I knew that parenting was hard, but I clearly had no idea how hard. I figured we would have a baby and we would know how to handle this whole parenting thing. I had read the books, I had watched For Keeps, and every birthing show on TLC. I was 31 and a registered nurse, how could I not be prepared? Bring on this beautiful child, because I am going to rock this! Oh, sweet young me.
My first parenting fail was a mere three weeks after my beautiful girl was born. On our first outing without the help of my mom, I got pulled over for speeding, and was told that my precious daughter was not properly secured in her car seat. I thanked the lovely police officer for doing his job, and then proceeded to cry all the way home and for about four hours after. I was convinced that I would eventually damage this child beyond repair and that social services would be on my doorstep by the end of day. Long story short, they did not take my child from me. In fact, we have kept her alive to see her fourteenth birthday, and even decided that we could handle adding another kid to this circus, so three years later her sister was born.
Since that fateful February run in with the Sioux Falls Police Department, I have had many wrenches thrown into my parenting plan. I have had one child with a cancer diagnosis, and both children with Generalized Anxiety Disorders. I have mourned the loss of my mother, and said goodbye to many friends along the way.
So what does this have to do with mental health and wellness? Thank you for asking.
Parenting in itself is stressful and hard, be kind to yourself. You have plenty to worry about then overthinking the nutritional value of your child’s school lunch, or if you have successfully taught them to read by kindergarten. It is not something that needs to be added to your list of parenting stressors. Be present. Read with them. Talk to them. Get to know who they are, and all of the other things will iron themselves out. In this age of internet blogs/vlogs/Pinterest, we spend far too much time comparing ourselves to the mom who only writes the good, and shows only what she wants to see through the Instagram filter.
You are good, and worthy and exactly as you are supposed to be. Love yourself momma. It will show your kids how to love themselves.