When my babies were little every little thing felt like a massive deal. What to feed them? What diapers to use? Do we sleep train? Do we feed on demand? Dare we hire a sitter?
The details were paramount and filled our days from one end to the other. It felt like we were making massive life altering decisions one after another.
Of course now I know that those decisions were in fact tiny and inconsequential. The only people who were really affected by the outcome was us, the grown-ups, the parents. If the food we chose didn’t agree with their tummies, they’d be a bit cranky for a while and we might lose a night of sleep. In the morning they’d be fine. If we chose a bad diaper, we’d just be stuck with more laundry, more sheets to change. Sleep training made our lives hell for months, but we’re the ones left with the emotional battle scars, neither kid has any lingering memory of the trauma.
Now that they’re bigger we’re still making decisions every single moment of the day. Most are just as inconsequential as before – what’s for dinner, what’s for breakfast, what to wear today – but some, well some are mindblowingly big.
Instead of worrying about diapers and milk, now we worry about making sure the kids are happy, healthy, and developing good self-esteem and values. We worry about their education, their compassion, their exposure to religion and big, scary world events. These issues don’t just color our day to day lives, they’ll impact and color every aspect of their future.
Today making sure the kids are ok goes way beyond keeping their bellies full, their tushies dry, and a smile playing on their faces. And while I know that the decisions we were making when they were infants seemed just as important as the ones we’re making now, I can’t help but feel like there’s more to this stuff.
They won’t remember what kind of formula went into their bottles when mommy’s milk ran out. They will however always have their self-esteem, their values, their ability to handles stress and everything else we can teach them during these key formative years.
When I stop to think about it I hyperventilate a bit. Luckily life never pauses quite long enough for paralysis to set in. I fit these massive, life impacting decisions between the little day-to-day ones and hope in the long-run we’re heading in the right direction.
Then I comb through books like Raising Happiness and The Power of your Child’s Imagination to check and recheck our course, making slight alterations, pulling myself back on track, and breathing a sigh of relief when I realize that we’re actually doing pretty darn well.