Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The, One, the Only, The Amazing, Annette Lyon

Thanks so much to Annette Lyon who agreed to fill-in while I am enjoying the sunny SO-CAl weather. (Tomorrow, I am going to fulfill a dream by the way and take my laptop into Disneyland and just write while the rest of the fam plays. We have annual passes this year, so no cost, and I even found a plug bear a table at New Orleans Square.)

Annette Lyon is a wonder romance author and also a great friend. She and I have been part the same crtique group for over five years. Annette's two ltest books and her next one coming out all are historical romances tied to the building of Utah Temples. The most recent is At the Journey's End. If you haven't read it, you have a great surprise in store. She does an amazing job of combining humor and with emotional interplay as you'll see from her blog.

For those of you that would like to read more by Annette, her blog address is:

Thanks, Annette

What Me Worry?
by Annette Lyon

The other day a neighbor mother announced a recent study saying that infants who sleep in baby carrier car seats are at risk for not breathing—and DEATH.

My first thought: “It’s so nice that I’m past the baby stage and don’t have to worry about that!”

But the next moment, I recalled that all of my children slept in their baby carriers. On cue, a blanket of guilt descended. Not only did my babies nap in their carriers, but (GASP!) some of them even spent the night in one for the first few days home from the hospital.

Then, at just a few days old, my daughter was at risk for jaundice. I was instructed by my doctor on a way (we hoped) to avoid having her under the bilirubin lights. She was to wear nothing but a diaper and sit in her baby carrier next to a window where she could get lots of sun. Now I know it could have killed her.


The sources for parental guilt are never-ending. Child proof your house and your child will still find a way to smack her face against a (blunt) piece of furniture and have a black eye in her birthday pictures (See May 25, 1999.) I could beat myself up all day about that one, but short of smothering my kids in bubble wrap, they’re going to get hurt no matter how many outlets are covered. (Heck, they’d probably trip on the bubble wrap.)

But assuming I can assuage the parental guilt over basic safety (which I doubt, because I’m still fretting about whether my 9-year-old should still be in a booster seat), I can find plenty of other things to feel guilty about.

Food. Ah, that’s a fun one. Because if my children end up as fat adults, it will be my fault. If they don’t eat enough vegetables and whole grains and end up with cancer, it’ll be my fault. If I don’t take the proper precautions introducing foods to my babies, they’ll end up with allergies. If I didn’t nurse them long enough, they won’t have a high IQ. For that matter, the choices I made during each pregnancy affected my babies—for good or ill. Which means that if chocolate is damaging to a fetus, I’m majorly guilty of something. I think at least one child came out addicted.

Then there’s the fact that each of my kids have gotten things the others haven’t. As a toddler, my oldest got at least twelve books read to him each day (four books before each of two naps, plus bedtime). Today, my four-year-old is lucky to get more than one book a day.

On the flip side, I also feel guilty for how much I enjoy said four-year-old. This is the only time I’ve had a child her age with no other kiddie distractions—the others are now at school. And she’s an absolute delight. I figure my older three were also delightful at this age, but I was in too much of a sleep-deprived haze, spinning with trying to keep the other kids from falling down the stairs or poking a fork into an outlet to notice or enjoy it.

Guilt, guilt.

Between books, magazines, the media, “studies,” and a hundred other sources (like mothers competing amongst themselves—“My Johnny walked at seven months and taught himself to read at eighteen months. Oh, and he potty-trained himself last week.”), parents live a life driven by little other than guilt and fear.

Questions keep us up at night like, “Am I doing it right?” (probably not, but every other year “experts” disagree on what “right” is anyway), “Have I messed up?” (probably, but you’re doing your best, and hopefully that’s enough), and "Is this normal?" (your guess is as good as anyone's).

The endless list of things to feel guilty for could bury me alive if I let it. Instead, I’m sending the list to the mental paper shredder, because if I let myself think too far ahead, I’ll start imagining more to fear and feel guilty about looming in the future, like giving dating and college advice and navigating the waters of teen social life, extra curricular activities, and spiritual issues. ACK! I’ll start losing sleep now, just knowing that I’ll manage to mess up my kids (including my three girls—mothers are known for scarring their daughters) somehow along the way.

What’s the reason I’m so sure I’ll mess up? Because teenage issues aren’t as black and white as the baby ones: Either I put my babies to sleep on their backs, or I didn’t. (I did. Or at least, on their sides.) Either I introduced my son to peanuts too early or I didn’t. (I did. He got hives and swelled up so much he looked like Quasimodo. At least I didn’t kill him.)

I’m already entering uncertain waters, and in a few years, I’ll be dealing with issues that each have eighty-two possible answers. And worse, these questions will be far more important to my children’s future than what age they were potty-trained.

How can I possibly choose the right thing for them all the time?

I know I won’t. So instead of feeling premature guilt for the mistakes I know I’ll be making as a parent, I’ll focus on today. I’ll do my best—today. And I’ll enjoy my children—today, forgetting about past or future mistakes.

Then I’ll pop a piece of chocolate. And I won’t even feel guilty about the calories. Now that’s progress.


At 12/13/2006 7:45 PM, Anonymous blanket of guilt said...

great piece! i'm a web-crawling mom and definitely empathized with this writer's perspective. it's hard to walk that line between rueful irony and pissed off defeated mother when writing about these issues - so kudos to your guest contributor!


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