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12 Nov

Who me? Worry?

So, in the comments to my last post, somebody took me to task for my hand-wringing. ‘Where is your confidence? Guilt, inadequacy, overwhelming, deprive, missing… these are your words?’ The fingers were practically wagging through the screen, and my immediate impulse was to phone my mother and chastise her for commenting anonymously.

But then I thought twice, and realized that my mother would never take me to task for my hand-wringing. Not because my hand-wringing doesn’t exasperate her, but because she long ago reconciled herself to the fact that I am – in her words – a worrier.

And because she knows that she (with a little bit of help from the Catholic Church) made me what I am: a type-A, overfunctioning worrier who is driven by guilt and fear of disappointing significant others and persons of authority. I’ve been well-trained in the arts of worry and hand-wringing, having learned early on that my parents and others had Very High Expectations of me and that I should have Very High Expectations of myself and that there was – is – no more terrible fate than Disappointing anyone with such expectations (not least, myself). I have always been expected to Do Well, and so I have spent a lifetime endeavouring to make good on that expectation. And, of course, worrying that I might fail in that endeavour.

It’s exhausting, sometimes, but it’s what I do. I could no more stop worrying than I could stop breathing. (OK. I could stop myself from breathing, but then my face would go red and I would eventually lose consciousness. Which is probably pretty much what would happen if I stopped worrying.)

Which means that this blog is often more a chronicle of my angst as a new mother (and as a wife, an academic, a feminist, etc., etc.) than it is a diary of my days with the WonderBaby. And that’s fine with me. When I’m not strutting my worries upon the (virtual) page, I’m reflecting and working out ideas and figuring out my – our – story as I go. Being able to reflect upon my worrying here, with you, goes a long way toward keeping it from interfering with my day-to-day life. And as I have said many a time, you all play such an important part in this exercise, wherein I figure out, in words, how to be a good mother – or, more to the point, how to be completely comfortable being the best kind of bad mother.

So thank you. Thank you so much.

It’d be pretty lonely, otherwise.

(Seriously, people. Your comments on my post about not being able to write about Tanner actually helped me to SLEEP last week. And the many, many supportive comments and helpful stories that you shared in response to my last post, on being ambivalent about whether to have more than one child… I can’t even tell you what a tremendous, tremendous difference that it all made to my state of mind. It made me less intimidated by own expectations of myself as a mother. It made me think, for a few moments here and there and now, that I’ll be fine, regardless of the number of children that we have. That’s huge. HUGE.

I love you.)