...because we all have our motley moments!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Decision-making Anxiety --- aka Mommy Guilt

Back when I was a high school teacher, Bryssy who still teaches and the rest of you who once did will be able to relate, I had students who literally suffered from test-taking anxiety. They were often bright, attentive students who for whatever reason feared taking tests and usually bombed them even when they knew the information being tested.

While I tried to empathize with these teens I couldn't really relate as I had been the youngster who played school (my role was teacher) before ever leaving elementary school, the classic type-A overachiever who would have loved being a full-time student for the rest of my life (I'm not joking) had someone paid me to do so.

I never really faced clinical anxiety until I survived a life-altering car accident back in August of 2002. I can say from experience that PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) exists and panic attacks are extremely frightening.

But perhaps the biggest anxiety I now face is what I term "decision-making" anxiety. It began the first day I stepped into the large medical clinic that housed the specialty OB doctor I had to see for my "high risk" pregnancy. Before I even met the doc, as part of the intake process, I was asked if I planned to breast or bottle feed. Say what!!??? First of all, it felt like a highly personal question for someone that was not a licensed medical professional to ask me. Secondly, I was still reeling from the news that I was 17 weeks pregnant at nearly 40 years old and after almost 20 years of marriage. I had not thought that far ahead yet. However, I found out that this was the first of MANY critical decisions I would have to make as a mom.

Decisions since then have included: cloth or disposable diapers, co-sleeping or separate sleeping, which foods to introduce first, which pediatrician to use, whether or not to use a pacifier or other comfort item. The list is endless. I even face future decisions like whether to send our child to preschool or not, whether to send her to public school or to home school, etc.

Some of these decisions have been easier than others to make, but each one comes with the moment of "mommy guilt" about whether or not I have make the "right" decision and the "what ifs" that plague me when I'm not so sure.

As a Christian mom, I have to get past the anxiety and guilt and put my trust in the One who gifted me with this child -- the One who trusted me enough to make me a mom, even though I've often questioned His judgement in that area. I am human enough to forget that He is my ultimate source for guidance in how to "train up" my daughter. That's why I am grateful to be surrounded by like-minded women, older and younger, who can remind me of these truths, pray for me during tough times, share their wisdom with me, and love me through it all.


Donna said...

I thank God no one is keeping track of my mistakes or bad days. He made children resilient and blessedly forgiving, I think, so they would make it through our parenting foibles, "monster-mom" days, and discipline tactics gone awry.

As my son says, "Tomorrow is a brand new day, Mommy!"

I thank God for that!

Karly said...

As a recovering perfectionist, I have always struggled with making decisions. Mostly because I want to make the "right" one, and I don't want to make the"wrong" one. The hard part about parenting is that the decisions we have to make all day long aren't that cut and dry. Sometimes there is no right or wrong choice. And sometimes we won't know if we made the right or wrong choice until years later. And sometimes the right choice for one kid is the wrong choice for another.

And I don't think it gets any easier. I wish each one came with a detailed instruction manual.

Parenting--it ain't for wimps!

Maria said...

You are absolutely right-on about how tough it is to make decisions when your a Mom. All we can do is try our best and keep faith that God will help us through every moment. All of these decisions are hard because we really care about our kids and want the best for them. God promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it. I ask for it daily!