A few weeks ago, I found myself back at a playground in our old neighborhood. My oldest son had a basketball game in the area, and I let my twins play on the playground while his team warmed up before the game. I used to go there, almost every day, 14 years ago. It was the neighborhood 4 o’clock hot spot for all the mamas. I stayed home then with our oldest daughter.
It was odd being there. I kept expecting to see a ghost of my old self appear. So many years later here I was again, back at the playground, with twin 7-year-olds. I never saw this coming. If I had seen my old self, playing with a tiny little girl, figuring out motherhood for the first time while also learning how to be a stay-at-home mom, there was so much I would have said to her.
Namely: It will be okay.
Stop worrying about where she’ll go to school. She won’t even stay there, because you’ll move across town. Stop worrying if she knows her letters and shapes and colors. She’ll be fine. Her wonderful teachers will take care of that. Stop worrying that she only eats mac and cheese. One day she’ll be 14 and eat kale without protest.
Stop thinking she’ll be a failure if you let her quit soccer, which she clearly doesn’t want to play. Any kid sports league you have to fight your kid into shin guards for is not worth the money, time, or stress. The only thing you accomplish yelling at a 6-year-old on the sideline is making yourself look like a jerk. They’ll find a passion one day. It may just take some time. Your kid isn’t going pro anyway, so chill.
Stop worrying about being the perfect stay-at-home mom, getting all the laundry done, a well-dressed kid by your side every minute, and a new, healthy dinner on the table every night. Stay home or go back to work, work or eventually stay home, it will all end up the same and your kid will be fine either way.
Stop worrying about the things that don’t matter and focus on the things that do: helping your kid be a kind and compassionate person. That’s not something baby companies can market and sell in a cute package, but it’s way more important than a bottle warmer and it sure is a heck of a lot harder to instill in your children.
I know these things now, now that I’ve been a mother for almost 15 years. My twins are my youngest, but there are kids in their class who are obviously the first child in their family, and it is so interesting to me how differently I parent my first and last children. With my now high-schooler, I over-parented in every way, poor kid. I did her homework with her every night, and I did spelling and math and projects, whether she needed my help or not. With my youngest children, if they’re not bleeding or on fire, I don’t worry about them. I only help with their homework if they ask. Now, I focus my energy on helping them to be good people.
So much I’ve learned in 15 years. But mostly: Don’t worry, it will be okay. I promise.