Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Trust Your Instincts
Occasionally, I will take both boys to the play area in the mall. They love to climb, run and jump on the giant playthings.
I remember the first time I took J (4) to the play area. He was around 22 months. (I know it's a bit late for that kind of stuff but I am a wigster. What can I say?!)
Since it is the mall and one never misses an opportunity to shop, my mom came with us. I was newly pregnant with Baby L so mom insisted I sit down and rest while she followed J around the play area.
As I sat there trying to relax, I noticed an older man standing outside of the play area, leaning against the railing, watching the kids. At first, I thought he was here with a grandchild. But as I watched him and the other adults with their kids, I realized he was here by himself.
He kept smiling and trying to talk to the kids. Not the adults but the kids. He would just watch the kids with this creepy smile on his face. He wasn't doing anything in particular that was out-and-out wrong but something about him felt...off. My instincts where screaming, "Stay away! Stay away!"
So with this creepy guy close by, relaxing went out the window. I remained seated (because let's face it I was exhausted) but I had my eye on him.
At one point, I saw him try to talk to J. J ignored him as most 2 year olds do with strangers but Mom was close by so she spoke to him. I remember thinking, "What is she doing?! She is chatting him up?!"
At this point, I get up, walk over and tell mom it's time to go. We scoop J up, put his shoes on, belt him in the stroller, sanitize his hands and we're on our way.
Walking towards the car, I say, "Mom, what's the deal with talking to that creepy old guy?"
Mom says, "Oh Michelle. He's not creepy. He's just being friendly." (I love my mom dearly but she has no "creepy people radar".)
I say, "Mom. He was not just being friendly. What old person hangs out at the play area by themselves watching kids and trying to talk to only the kids? It's creepy."
Mom says, "Oh Michelle. He's harmless."
I say, "Mom, I think that's naive. My instincts were going CRAZY about this guy. He is most definitely NOT harmless. Something is off about this guy."
Mom thinks for a minute, then says, "You might be right."
I say, "I know I'm right!"
Here's the deal.
Our children, these sweet, little people who we love more than life itself, are entrusted to us to love, care, nurture and protect them. We think we are prepared for how we will feel when we first hold them in our arms, but we have no idea.
The love we feel for them is endless, limitless, boundless. Instantly, we are captivated by this tiny person and our lives are no longer our own. We are head-over-heels, insanely, madly, deeply in love with them.
And we are also scared out of our minds.
When the doctor hands you your baby for the first time, you're like, "Uh, you're giving this baby to me? Are you sure? I'm not sure if I'm qualified for the job. Do you have an instruction manual? FAQ sheet?"
You leave the hospital and drive home. You keep looking at your little baby in their car seat and continue to think, "I am a mom. This is so crazy! There is a little baby in my car. I am taking this little baby home where I will be the parent."
As your baby grows, there will be MANY times where you wonder, "Does that head bump require a trip to the hospital? Is the fever high enough to take them to the doctor? Should I have done this? Should I have done that? Did I make the right call?"
This is what I think. YOU are the parent. YOU know your child better than anyone. YOU know how your child acts. YOU know what is normal behavior for your kid. YOU know what your kid likes and what they don't. If something feels wrong to you, trust your instincts!
Our instincts are there for a reason. That inner voice, or that feeling in the pit of your stomach, don't ignore it! It's your warning signal. Your smoke alarm before the fire.
Make a decision. Feel good about it. And move on.
What good comes of wondering if you made the right call? What good comes of beating yourself up over it? Parenting is hard enough without second guessing yourself. Trust me. (I am speaking to myself on this one too. I am guilty of this a lot.)
If you love your child, want what is best for them, and are taking care of them, then you are doing a great job! If you make the best decisions at the time with the information you have and consider all your options, then pat yourself on the back!
Will you be wrong? Absolutely. Will you will right? Mostly. Will you be confused? Try all the time. (Oh wait?! Is that just me?!)
Don't ignore what your gut is trying to tell you. Trust your instincts.