My day to day life involves chasing after a little girl who requires me to have a lot of energy to match hers. Being a parent is hard in a million ways that I never anticipated. Even with tons of help, the scariest part of the day can be just having a pair of eyes on me while I’m trying to do a regular activity like shopping or eating.
Sometimes going places with my two year old gives me anxiety. Being in public feels like a performance. Is she wearing something nice? Do we have food in our hair? Do my socks match? Did I wear this shirt yesterday?
One day I spent a couple of hours at the mall with my daughter. We had lunch, rode up and down escalators, and chased each other in circles. It was mostly a fun time until she stopped listening and started misbehaving in all the ways that toddler do. It was such a stark contrast to how she behaved earlier. Besides trying to keep her from running away, I felt like we were bothering everyone in the building just by being there. I was so worried over something I knew I already did my best to control.
Later I thought about how embarrassed I felt, and I hated it. I’ve battled with this feeling my whole life, always wondering if I was being too loud or taking up too much space. That feeling made me smaller and quieter as a child. Did I want my daughter to feel that way too?
As she gets older, I have more days where I’m kind to myself and ignore any outside judgement — but those days are far from over. The same way I’m growing as an almost 30 year old adult, I’m now growing with her.
I’ll teach her to never be embarrassed by what’s outside of her control. That’s the only way forward.