I'm Pregnant and I'm Afraid I Will be a Bad Mom

Filed under: Expert Advice: Pregnancy, Expert Advice: Just For You

Dear AdviceMama:

I found out I was pregnant on the day we returned home from our honeymoon. Talk about a surprise. You can read my whole rant on Lemondrop. Anyway, we had previously joked about how awesome it was that we were in the "double income, no kids" category and expected to stay that way for a couple of years. Now, I vacillate between being absolutely thrilled and freaking terrified. Every time I go shopping, I see kids misbehaving, which makes me dislike parents altogether. I'm left with a fear of becoming one of those lazy, shrieking mothers. How can I avoid this happening to me?

Freaked-Out Prego

Dear F-O Prego:

Whoo hee, woman, rant away! As jarring as some of your words may appear to the faint of heart, I have to say that I admire your honesty. Better to reveal the reality of your ambivalence than to parade that belly with disingenuous pride. I fully subscribe to the notion that as difficult as it can be to face, "the truth shall set ye free."

Trust me, you are not the first mama-to-be who crumbled during a shopping expedition. Shopping is not for the weary or the weak; it's a hotbed of fatigue, distraction and over stimulation, bringing out the worst in parent and child alike.

But here's the good news: You get to be the kind of Mommy that you want to be. You get to answer your child's awkward questions with honesty and compassion. You get to be interested in your child's inane curiosities. You get to say, "Mommy's focusing on getting stuff for the house now, sweetheart. Play with this vibrator." That is, if you really want that massaging vibrator from the Lamaze checklist.

Stores sell a lot of things, but they don't sell parenting. The greatest thing about seeing moms do things you think are nuts -- whether it's telling a child that you don't know why the pregnant lady is "fat" or screaming "Shut up!" to a tired toddler -- is that you get to decide to do it differently.

The world is your classroom, m'lady. Take notes and design your very own mothering curriculum. The beauty of parenting is that there isn't a right or wrong way to do it. There's your way, consistent with your personality, your quirks and your values.

And here's a little secret: The more you allow yourself to be yourself as a parent, the less uptight you'll be as you move through your day (including your shopping forays.) This means your kids, who, by the way, pick up on mom's stress and tension with their phenomenal radar, will be like the hundreds of happy kids who don't say or do something rude on their shopping adventures.

Enjoy the ride, my friend. You're gonna have a whole lot of fun. Just fasten your seat belt!

Yours in parenting support,

AdviceMama, Susan Stiffelman, is a licensed and practicing psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in developmental psychology and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles, is available on Amazon. Sign up to get Susan's free parenting newsletter.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.