A few weeks ago, I took my son to the pediatrician for a routine physical. Everything went well, but during the appointment, I mentioned I was a little concerned regarding complaints my son often makes about leg pains. I felt fairly confident that his complaints were simply growing pains, but since the pains would bring him to tears at times, I just couldn’t be sure. She said it sounded like growing pains as well, but she didn’t want to be that physician who said “it’s just growing pains,” when it’s really something more serious. She ordered a series of lab tests to rule out lime disease and other conditions that may be causing the pain.
I took him to the lab to get the bloodwork done and about 5-6 days later, I stopped thinking about it. No news is good news, right? I never heard a word from the doctor so I just assumed all was good. Then on the seventh day, I got a call. The office administrator on the line said everything looks great BUT (oh, how I hate buts), his white blood cell count was lower than the normal range and they wanted to run the test again to make sure it’s rising, not falling.
I wasn’t thrilled about the news. Not one bit. In her calm “no need to worry” voice, she explained that if he was sick or recovering from a virus at the time of the test, that could explain the low count. I finally remembered that when we got home after visiting the lab, he had a low-grade fever (99.7). That wasn’t enough to eradicate my fears, but it made me slightly less worried. But still, my mind began to race…
What if he is sick?
What if this explains the leg pains that I mistakenly thought were growing pains?
What if it’s canc…? I couldn’t even bring myself to finish that thought.
I got off the phone with that lady and started my Google search. Damn you Google for ruining lives when it comes to medical conditions. I Googled like a maniac when I was pregnant with my second child (a pregnancy I eventually loss). Those google searches rarely brought much comfort–unless I found a story from a woman who was also carrying a child with triploidy. On those rare instances, it helped a little. But for the most part, searching online was trouble.
Anyway, I Googled a lot that night, and did some more Googling at dawn. Then I stopped. I closed my laptop and started praying. I started praying because I finally realized that doing so made a lot more sense than worrying and Googling. I realized that the answer to my stress and anxiety wasn’t online, it was with God. In that moment, I gave it to Him.
I patiently waited 5 days for my son to do the repeat blood test. Every time I even thought about doing another Google search, I turned my thoughts to God.
Listen, I am not knocking Google. I love Google. But I have to tell you that this culture of fast (and easily accessible) information is damaging us all. It causes stress. At times it misinforms us. It keeps us up at night without good reason. We should all be well informed about our health. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer last year, Google helped me retrieve information that allowed me to ask to ask her doctors all the right questions. But the biggest difference there is that she was already diagnosed with the condition. I wasn’t blindly searching for possibilities.
How many times do we use search engines to drive ourselves nuts about what could happen? Stressing out about reality is one thing, but driving ourselves nuts about possibilities–well, I think that needs to stop.
So what happened after the repeat test? The results came back normal. His white blood cell count was back up.
I was thrilled. I hugged him harder than usual that night, grateful that his was fine. But that experience, and those 5 days I spent waiting for him to repeat that test, really gave me a chance to think about a lot of things like motherhood, health, wellness, faith, fear, anxiety, and technology. It made me think about what motherhood means to me and what’s I’ve learned since I started this adventure 6 years ago.
During all of this deep thought, I realized a few truths about motherhood. Some are happy (and somewhat obvious) truths while others are tougher to embrace. Either way, these are my truths about motherhood, and I suspect they may ring true for many of you.
Praying helps a lot more than worrying every will.
Even those of us with a strong faith in God can fall into the trap of worrying too much, especially when it comes to our kids. But from experience, I know that worrying never fixed a thing. Worry is a wasted emotion. Our children are much better off if we just do our best and pray for them instead. I know you will still worry (I’m sure I will), but less of it will do us all some good.
Accept help and ask for it.
Parenting is hard. People will offer you help. Say yes. Please, say yes. And don’t hesitate to ask for help. This isn’t a one-person job. Doing it alone doesn’t prove how strong you are. It takes a tribe–a village–to raise kids. More people are willing to help than you think.
Take a break. You deserve it.
All work and no play makes a cranky, tired mom. You know how I just said you should ask for help? This is a great reason to do it. Get a babysitter and do something special for yourself. You will feel reenergized and your kids will enjoy the happier mom that comes back home.
Let go of the guilt.
We have to stop feeling guilty about everything. Can I tell you a secret? There is a good chance your kid will have issues. We all have issues. It doesn’t mean you will be the cause of those issues, and frankly, this quest to raise issue-free kids is probably going to cause our kids more harm than good. Just love them as much as you can and do your best. If we do our best, I promise our kids won’t grow up to judge us based on every tiny mistake we made. Honestly, they probably won’t judge us based on the bigger mistakes either.
Trust your gut.
Whether it has to do with your kid’s health, education, or their overall well-being, always trust your gut. Always. God gives us that feeling for a reason. Trusting my gut has never led me in the wrong direction.
Enjoy the little moments
We can’t get caught up in what we can’t give our kids. Focus on what you have given them and on the small day-to-day things that make them happen. Those things matter. I grew up in a small apartment in Brooklyn and I shared a bedroom with my mom, then with my cousin and grandmother. We didn’t have much, but I always felt loved. My best memories include holidays, good food, and family traditions. All the little things.
Breathe. Meditate. Take a trip. Pray. Eat a gourmet meal. Enjoy a glass of wine. Enjoy a cup of tea. Hang out with our girls. Just chill. That’s what our kids want most. A stressed out, anxious mom makes them feel stressed out and anxious. We don’t want that for them, so we have to do better for ourselves.
Do work you love
I am not suggesting you quit your day job tomorrow to be a travel writer. I totally understand that you have kids and you have bills to pay. But don’t settle for a life that is less than what you deserve. Even if you are stuck in a job you don’t like, find ways to work on things you love and begin creating an exit strategy. Spending a period of time doing work you don’ love is one thing, but spending your lifetime like that does something to your soul.
We all mess up
Good Lord do we all mess up! Please don’t compare yourself to anyone who seems like the perfect mom. She is probably just too scared to let anyone see her imperfections. But here’s the thing: kids don’t want a perfect mom. They just want to be loved and seen.
Don’t judge other moms
When we judge, it stems from our own insecurities and pain. Every mom is fighting her own battle. Instead of judging where another mom is on her journey, offer support. The less we judge, the less we worry about others judging us.
Let your kids teach you
My kids have been my biggest teachers. I have seriously learned more about myself in the last 6 years than I did in the 16 years before that. My kids are incredible. Yes, our job is to teach them and help shape them into well adjusted human beings, but if we step back and truly watch what they do, they have even more to teach us.
These are my personal truths about motherhood. I’d love to hear yours. Leave a comment below.