My Biggest Lesson in Parenthood: I am Not (Always) in Control

I was born a worrier. The intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, and anxiety started at a very young age and never really subsided. As the years passed, I learned how to cope with this internal war in different ways. Some healthy, like prescribed medication, therapy, and meditation- and some not so healthy (hello binge-drinking college years).

But at the end of the day, all these things did for me was serve as a bandaid. A wet, soggy bandaid that was ready to fall off at any given moment- but a bandaid nonetheless.

And then, I became a parent, and that proverbial bandaid slid right off, instantly exposing this intangible yet still painfully evident wound.

I understand that becoming a parent comes with an assumed amount of added concern. It’s normal, natural, and, most importantly- instinctive to worry. Worry is what keeps our kids safe. Worry is what makes us hold their hands as they cross the street, keep a steady eye on them at the playground and spend years cutting fruit and hotdogs into obnoxiously small pieces.

But what I experienced… Well. let’s just say it went well beyond the scope of what my doctor would consider “normal.” But nevertheless, I was given a presumed diagnosis of postpartum anxiety and was confidently assured it would get better.

Well, now my daughter is almost four, and I have some disappointing news. It did not magically get better. And if anything, her becoming more independent has only amplified my concerns. But with my growing fears came a grand epiphany: I am not in control.

What do I mean by “I am not in control”?

This is a statement that both liberates me and makes me feel smaller than an atom. To me, “I am not in control” means that I need to have a certain level of innate trust in the universe and that ultimately, despite all my preventive measures, I don’t get to dictate what may or may not happen in the future.

Every day, I must put forth a certain level of trust that things will be okay. I can not be there for every fall, I can not self-diagnose her every ailment on Web MD, and I certainly can’t spend my days asking myself, “what if.”

Why? Because ultimately, it isn’t up to me, and stumbling upon this realization has been my biggest lesson in parenthood. I am not in control. I wish I could offer some sort of comforting closure in which I would say, “after stumbling upon this realization, all my worries simply melted away!” but in reality, I still struggle.

But now, instead of desperately trying to force myself into the driver seat, I have ultimately accepted that I am simply riding shotgun in this crazy thing called life. And as for my daughter? Well, she’s sturdily strapped into a 5-point-harness car seat because, you know. Even if I’m not the one driving the car, there is still plenty I can do to ensure that it’s a safe ride.

*If you are struggling with postpartum anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, please reach out to a trusted care provider. This blog is for entertainment purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified professional care. 

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