10 Parenting Problems I Can’t Believe I Worried About

I am not a parenting expert. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t even have teenagers yet. But I do have four kids who at this point are reasonably able to clean and feed themselves, and with that comes a certain luxury of looking back and wondering why I got so stressed about so many things.

That’s not to say that I shouldn’t have worried about these things. Worrying comes with the job. Plus I have an anxiety disorder, so I worry about really crazy stuff that totally seems legit at the time. Example: I worry that in the eight seconds it takes me to return the grocery cart to the corral, I’ll get run over in the parking lot and no one will know that my kids are in the van. (For those of you without anxiety: yes, but it makes sense to me. For those of you with anxiety: sorry for giving you something new to worry about.)

But still, there are times that I look back on, and I wish I could whisper to myself, “don’t sweat this so much.” Or, “this decision is not nearly as important as you think it is.”

Or most importantly, “it’s going to be okay.”

Probably I just needed parenting humor writer David Vienna to tell me to CTFD, but alas, his “parenting technique” just became famous, so I had to muddle through without his wisdom.

I’m sure there are tons more things, both rational and ridiculous, that I’ll worry about as my kids enter their teen years. Hopefully I’ll be lucky enough to look back, when they’re in their 20s, and think, “Geez, why did I worry about that? They’re fine.”

In the mean time, the best I can do is offer my reassurances to those who are in the thick of it right now. Whether your worry is actually kinda ridiculous (I freaked about my newborn hiccuping) or more traditional (ugh, potty training), it’s really going to be okay.

  • Sigh. 1 of 11
    10 Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    Hindsight is 20-20, but I wish I hadn't worried about these things so much. The best I can do at this point is offer my reassurances to those parents in the thick of it. Click the arrows to scroll through, and remember: it's going to be okay.

  • Crying caused by hiccups. 2 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    My twins came home from the hospital separately, which is probably for the best, because just the one baby was fairly alarming. The first night that she was home from the hospital, she had a bout of hiccups that made her cry. My husband and I lost our damn minds. We completely panicked, and were gobsmacked to find that the combined literary efforts Dr. Sears, Dr. Spock, and the entire American Academy of Pediatrics could not help us. It really seemed like there should be a chapter, if not an entire book, devoted to helping babies stop hiccuping. 

    Lesson Learned: Turns out they just, you know...stop hiccuping. Sigh.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • The whole breast vs. bottle thing. 3 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    Yes, yes, breast is best. Most of the time. It's not the best, for example, when you're trying to nurse preemie twins who have a weak suck so you're also pumping to keep up your supply and then you have to supplement with formula anyway. In that case, it's possible that breastfeeding may slowly rapidly make you go insane. It was a very difficult and emotional decision to stop pumping and breastfeeding them, and I felt a lot of guilt for a long, long time.

    The thing is, you have to do what works for you and for your family. My twins were both breastfed and formula fed. My third daughter was exclusively breastfed until she was 18 months. My youngest was breastfed until he was ten months, and then he had to be on a prescription, hypoallergenic elemental formula.

    Lesson learned: I fed my kids. It's all good.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)


  • ZOMG should I give her barley or oatmeal next?!? 4 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    In hindsight, nothing seems funnier than the intense amount of thought I put into selecting which smashed-up food my babies would try next. I debated the virtues of introducing fruit first versus vegetables first. 

    Sure, it's a good idea to introduce each food separately because that way you'll know if they have an allergic reaction. (And my kids did end up having a ton of food allergies, actually.) But even with their massive allergy situation, before I knew it they were smashing fistfuls of wheat-free Oatie-O's into their pieholes and they were fine.

    Lesson Learned: Whether you introduce peaches first or carrots, in a few short years they will be scarfing down "family-sized" bags of Spicy Nacho Doritos on their own, in one sitting.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • Toddler food. 5 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    Despite being fully aware by this point that my baby food worries had been pointless, I nevertheless proceeded on to worry about "toddler food." There's this weird period of time between 18 months and about age 3 when we all seem to freak out and try to find clever ways to jam more vegetables into our kids' diets. All this happened to me before the advent of Pinterest, so I'm sure it's even worse now. 

    At some point I realized that my kids preferred the laziest possible foods. I'm not talking about processed foods, I'm talking about really simple food, like frozen peas. Still frozen.  

    Sometimes I feel kinda bad because my first two kids got really cute, clever toddler food and my other two kids got regular people food, cut into small pieces. And then I remember that none of them remember eating anything as toddlers, except the time that one of the kids possibly ate a spider. (We're really still not sure what happened there.)

    Lesson learned: Toddler food is not a real thing.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • Whether or not my pediatrician thinks I’m insane. 6 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    Given how panicked I was about a baby hiccuping/crying, I think it's safe to say that I freaked out about pretty much everything initially. But also, my twins cried a LOT. Like, way more than seemed normal. Like allllllll the time. And when I mentioned this to our pediatrician at every well check, he said patronizingly, "Babies cry, Mrs. Gray."

    This is the kind of thing that when you're an experienced parent, would make you want to throat-punch the doctor. The experienced mom in me wants to go back in time and scream at the doctor, "yeah, jackhole, babies cry, but they don't cry like they're being stabbed 80 percent of the day, and always 40 minutes after they eat."  But when you're a brand-new mom, it's a little harder to be sure of yourself. So I furrowed my brow but let it go.

    Eventually, I timed one of the babies' feedings so that she would freak out at the doctor's office at our 6-month well check. Once the pediatrician had his hearing damaged for a few minutes by my crying baby, he agreed that perhaps something wasn't quite right. After some testing, a pediatric gastroenterologist diagnosed both of our baby girls with severe gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).

    Lesson learned: Trust my gut as a mom. 

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • Switching doctors. 7 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    I should have done it sooner, but switching to a new pediatrician seemed overwhelming, and with six-month-old twin babies, I was pretty tired. But after the GERD debacle, I switched. If a doctor doesn't listen to a parent's concerns, take those concerns seriously, and help resolve problems,  then it's time for a different doctor.  

    Lesson learned: Change can be good, and switching pediatricians is as easy as a phone call and a signed release form. 

    Related advice for medical students: If you don't want to get calls in the middle of the night and deal with freaked-out moms, don't go into pediatrics. Maybe go into adult dermatology.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • When to separate my twins in school. 8 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    This is the end-all and be-all of debates for parents of multiples. Should we separate them? When should we separate them? Like every other mom of twins, I stressed over this decision. They were kept together in preschool because there was only one class. They were separated in Kindergarten because that's what you're "supposed" to do, and it seemed like it would be easier to separate for a half-day, than to wait until First Grade, which is full-day.

    And our twins did fine in Kindergarten. I did not. I also had a toddler and a newborn and I was out of my mind trying to keep track of two different homework assignments, two different library days, two different "classroom library" days, two different gym days, two different everything. 

    So we put them together in first grade, because the best thing for my kids was to have a semi-sane mom. And they did fine. And then we separated them again for second grade, and they were fine. In third grade, we moved, and there was only room for them in one classroom, so they were together again, and they were fine. In fourth grade, we moved back to Pennsylvania, and they were separated again. In fifth grade, they were separated but ended up in the same reading and math classes anyway. It kind of keeps going on like that. And they were fine.

    My girls are fraternal, and I think this issue is different for parents of identical twins. But the end result is the same: it doesn't have to be a permanent decision for the entirety of their academic career. 

    Lesson learned: You're allowed to change your mind, and do what works for your family.

  • Pretty much every single thing related to potty-training. 9 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    I once asked a U.S. Army drill sergeant how long she had been a drill sergeant. Her answer was, "too long, and not long enough."

    That is exactly how potty training works. It sucks, and no matter how long you've been doing it, it's too long and not long enough. And it's only made worse by pressuring yourself and your kid to get it done on a deadline. It's made even more of a suckfest when you listen to other people's craptastic lectures about how their kids were all potty-trained by a certain age, and basically that you're doing it wrong.

    I was really, really stressed about potty-training on our first go-round. By the fourth kid, not so much. This was especially helpful because he has some special needs, and potty-training was an incredibly long process. So at this point, I have a certain amount of perspective on potty training.

    And that perspective is: whatever. Seriously. If your kid isn't potty-trained by his or her third birthday, WHATEVER. I say this with love. I rarely break out the "special needs mom card" but honestly, there really are kids who aren't fully potty trained until grade school. There are kids who will never be potty-trained. There are just bigger problems in this world than whether your mother-in-law thinks Pull-Ups are a good idea, and you can tell her I said so. 

    Lesson learned: Just like your baby didn't have a Day Planner in the uterus with your due date circled in red, your kid is probably on his own timetable for learning how to use the toilet. 

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • Worrying about how my older kids would react to a new baby. 10 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    I'm pretty sure every parent worries about this with their second, third, and subsequent babies. I sure did. When I was pregnant with our third baby, we talked about the new baby, we read books about being big sisters, we swaddled baby dolls, you name it. One of our twins was overjoyed when we walked in with the new baby; the other was completely pissed. 

    It turns out that she was pissed because she had mis-heard the new baby's name as "Elmo." AND THAT WAS NOT ELMO.

    She got over it.

    Lesson learned: A million bajillion kids have had new siblings join their families. They all survived.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

  • The age that anyone else’s kid does literally anything. 11 of 11
    Parenting Problems I Can't Believe I Worried About - Babble

    This one is so hard. It's also a little complicated by having multiples, because there's a live-in, built-in comparison right there. It's normal to want your kid to keep up with his or her peers. But there is such a range of when kids do things and when they learn things. A kid who does things earlier than average, like potty-training, isn't necessarily smarter than other kids. (The AAP says so.) By the same token, kids who do things later than average aren't necessarily less smart.

    And Facebook, you're not helping one bit. 

    I know that having two kids with autism colors my opinion on this. Having a special needs kid really forces you to just accept that your kid is on his or her own path to development. The thing is, our two non-autistic kids are also on their own paths, doing things in their own time. It's all good.

    What's interesting about this whole topic is then there's this point where you realize that some kids in third grade are starting to hit puberty and you're suddenly like OMG NO PLEASE GO AHEAD AND BE DELAYED.

    Lesson learned: If you're worried about whether your child isn't hitting milestones, check with your pediatrician or your child's teacher, not Facebook.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

Read more from Joslyn on Babble and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow Joslyn on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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