Dear Clementine

Advice for a new mother's crippling anxiety over her six-month-old baby.

Image Credit: Nathan Michael

Dear Clementine,

I have a six-month-old baby and am trying really hard to love motherhood, but I just don't know if I made the right decision in choosing to become a parent. My husband is a loving father, and this is our first child, so I keep hearing things will get better. But the truth is, I'm really scared of what's around the bend. I'm a planner and thinker and over-analyzer, so having something that I love so much creates so much worry in my life. I'm exhausted and scared and second-guessing every decision, and then I look around and it feels like everyone around me is so nonchalant with their babies. How do I stop worrying and enjoy my son? Do you have kids, Clementine? When does it get easier? Does it ever?

Shaking In My Baby Bjorn

Dear Baby,

I hate to break the news to you, but it's too late. You're already a parent. And if you're one of the lucky ones, this will remain a solid fact for your entire life. Remember that.

When I think of the greatest things that have ever been made, I usually think first of babies. (Babies and the telephone, actually. Whoa. Both mind-blowing.) Their actual and their potential take my breath away.

So, for me, advising you to chill out or lighten up or care less seems like the complete opposite of what you should be doing. You said it yourself: you're a planner and a thinker and an over-analyzer. I bet you've been this way for, like, ever. Why would you try to be anything less-than-you for your son?

Worrying and enjoying have a grip on each other as tightly as the one between you and your boy. One can't live without the other. The minute you find yourself sighing contentedly and thinking "Ahh. This is perfect.", your entire world flips with your gut when you think of how it would feel to lose it all. Every parent, no matter how cavalier they seem, knows this moment well.

Here's the truth: I don't know what else you've got going on in your life, but inventing a boy is pretty legit. He's six months old, so he probably can't grill a steak, drive you to the mall, or learn all the words to Jessie's Girl. He can't get away fast enough from the kid with the runny nose and douse himself with sanitizer, he can't walk to the end of the block without a million questions about who lives there and there and there and good gracious when will his long-term memory skills kick in, he has no idea that blue popsicle stains all over his face are very uncool and especially regrettable at bath time, he's not entirely sure about sticking that coffee bean up his nose but he's willing to try anything once, and he's madly in love with the ceiling fan.

In short, he needs you. He needs your planning, all of your thinking, and most of your over-analyzing. He's going to need you a week before he finds the cleaning supplies, a month before he finds his parts, three months before he really finds his parts, and the minute his heart gets crushed, every single time it happens. And before you blink twice, he's going to be grilling steaks, driving his friends to the mall, and belting out Jessie's Girl in the shower in such a deep voice that you'll completely forget he was ever a wailing kid in the ER with a coffee bean lodged in his nose. And you're going to ache...I mean, ache...for him to be six months old again just so you can enjoy it more this time. Babies and books are best the second time around, but unfortunately you can't turn back the pages of people. Believe me, I've tried.

This parenting gig is all about planning until the day he can go it alone. Who, more than you, will be better prepared for this? I can't think of anyone.

Don't feel like your gifts are curses. Please don't. Would you ever in a million years want him to feel the same way about his own true nature? And please enjoy this boy you've made. Please do. You've got this.

That's the only way I live my days. (Also, there will come a day when you will miss his uncomplicated love affair with that ceiling fan, and find yourself wishing for an off switch the minute he starts to date. Plan for that.)