If there is one negative attribute motherhood has brought with it in my life, its anxiety. I worry and think about stuff I have no business worrying about. I believe this attribute was brought about by my baby’s personality too.
When Nia was an infant, I don’t know if it because we didn’t have a lot of people around us all the time and it was mainly just me, her and her dad or its just her personality. But she had an extreme case of stranger anxiety and separation anxiety. I know most babies have some type of stranger and separation anxiety. But hers was extreme to the point where even looking at her sometimes would cause her to go off.
Everyone had an opinion about her anxiety, they would say that it was because I was at home with her, or its because she was breastfeed or as soon a she starts daycare she would change. And it didn’t help that all the babies around us were always willing to be picked up and go to anyone. So I decided I needed to expose her to as many social settings as possible.
I would go anywhere and everywhere I heard there was a social gathering, and I would always leave the function extremely upset. I would leave hungry and needing to use the bathroom because she would not allow anyone else to hold her so I could get anything done, this included her dad. I would usually end up spending the better part of the day locked up in a bedroom trying to calm her and listening to people talk, eat and laugh.
This made me start dreading going places, but with age she has grown out of that extreme stranger and separation anxiety. She is a little more sociable, she loves being out of the house, and any activity out of the house is fun for her. She loves going shopping and she loves going to the park. She is always practicing how to have conversations with people and how to say hi and bye at home, like she will walk out the door and tell me bye mami and then walk back in and say hi mami and she will ask me to hug her, like she sees people doing when they visit or we visit. And I am thinking and hoping one day soon she will have the confidence to do so in a real situation.
So what has brought on my anxiety today, well yesterday after her dad picked her up from school he said that the teacher said that she doesn’t talk in school. She plays and has fun with her friends, and she will talk about her friends at home. But apparently she doesn’t talk. Knowing her, I am not really surprised that she doesn’t talk much and at the sametime the way I know her, she’s the type of person who has to perfect a skill before she has the confidence to show it to others. So why am I so upset, why am I questioning my parenting, why do I feel like she needs me more to flourish, I stayed home with her for a year and a half but I feel guilty for leaving her, like she’s only able to be her true self when am around and I just leave her.
This is typical of me now, letting my mind spiral out of control with things I cant control. I never used to be that way, it was always easy for me to let things go and never used to worry about stuff I could not control. I know She is who she is and I need to accept that and learn her because that’s the only way I can help her flourish and be all that she can be. I try to avoid labels like shy and timid with her. And I try to use more positive labels like cautious, observant and considerate. According to Dr Sears
Shyness is a personality trait, not a fault. Some of the nicest people are shy. These persons tend to be attentive listeners, private people who exude a welcome presence even without saying a word. There is no need to say apologetically, “He’s a shy child,” There is nothing wrong, and a lot right, with being shy. Many people don’t understand shyness and equate being shy with having a problem. They believe a shy child must suffer from poor self-image. Most of the time this label couldn’t be more unfair. Many shy children have a solid self-concept. They have an inner peace that shines; if the extroverts would be quiet long enough they would notice its glow.
For this reason she is also very easy to parent, she never runs off like many toddlers do, she is always cautious when walking and in how she treats and handles things. She doesn’t intentionally break things and toys, and I believe she would be a very difficult child to kidnap. I know she’s a happy child, who has met all her milestones. So why do I still worry about her so much, why do I still get panic attacks when we are going to a social setting. My only prayer is that I am able to love her and accept her for who she is, I don’t want to push her to do things she’s not comfortable doing and at the same time I don’t want to be her crutch, I have seen kids who don’t speak much and their parents take over and speak for them. I don’t want be an obstacle in her being all that she can be.