I would dare say every new parent faces fear. It does not matter if the new child comes home the first day as an infant or 3, 4, 5, or 6 as our children came to us. I wish I could say the fear goes away, but as our children grow up we just encounter new fears. As a mother of 4 teenagers (at one point I had five at one time), I can say the fears just change. Gone are the days when I worried about them riding their bike to the swimming pool on a hot summer day. Now I find myself worrying as they head out in one of the many cars that now line our drive. I would dare say from many conversations with parents who have children older than mine, that the fears never go away-they just change.
There comes a day when we have to know that we have done our best to teach our children what good choices are and how to make them. Then we have to let them go; go out that door to the swimming pool by themselves, go out that door and into a car full of friends. And then we should prepare for the days they will not make good choices. It is good to have a plan for these moments. There may be nothing more volatile than facing a teenager that has made a mistake in anger. I do not mean you can be so prepared that you won't feel anger, but you can be prepared with how to address them when it happens. This is not to say that I was always prepared --how else do you think I know it would be a good plan to prepare!
Not everything can be prepared for, however. Along this vain, perhaps the most important thing I have learned as a parent is to follow my instincts. Listening to my instincts has been honed over many years now. I can gratefully say it didn't take too many times of not listening before I caught on. It is not an exact science. I have learned to listen to myself, question what I am hearing, and respond accordingly. Sometimes it is as simple as being at the grocery store and having an ingredient pop into my head that isn't on my list. There have been times I have ignored my instincts, knowing I have it in the fridge, only to get home and not have it. I have also faced moments when I have felt something wasn't quite right in situations with my children. I never question these times, and I have never regretted a choice I have made by following my instincts.
I just started reading Louder Than Words by Jenny McCarthy last night and had to come back and add this paragraph to this weeks blog. She talks continually about her instincts and her gift to follow them. As she encountered a life changing illness with her son, she kept coming up against doctors who were giving her answers she did not feel were right. She followed those instincts, questioned, and kept searching until she found someone who knew what was really wrong with her child. (He was diagnosed with autism for those of you who don't know.) While I don't advocate the language she uses in her book (i.e. throwing the "F" bomb around), it is a good read. She is 100% upfront with exactly what she was filling during this time in her life. It really brings home the importance of following our instincts.
I believe this is a gift from God and am very glad that God has provided this gift to women. It has been my experience that men do not have this same ability. I am very grateful that my husband has also come to recognize that some times I just know things. There may not be facts to back up what I am feeling, but I am confident in what my instincts are telling me.
Do you listen to your instincts? If you are a new mother, and are just beginning to see what I am talking about, I encourage you to really take the time to listen to yourself and trust your instincts.