Q: I haven’t been feeling well the last two weeks and I’m getting very nervous. My husband and I have been married for some time, and are both thrilled about the idea of having a child. However, I’ve had all these worries cross my mind regarding the health of the baby and how the baby will affect us both. I’m also concerned about how I can be a good role model to someone else when I have enough of my own faults to deal with. I see all these parents who lose patience with their children, and whose children seem so difficult to deal with. Any thoughts that you have on this matter will be helpful.
A: In general, the fear of having children is a common phenomenon. When taking on the role of mother and nurturer of another human being, a woman, in a sense, says good-bye to the last remnants of her own childhood. Her self-image goes through a complete reappraisal; an identity shift occurs.
Your specific concerns are common to all parents-to-be. One’s fears can be alleviated to a large extent by working on expanding one’s emunah and bitachon in Hashem. Internalizing this concept of trust in a realistic and personal way is a most helpful way to deal with feelings of anxiety.
Your concerns about how a child will affect your life are realistic. Changes in career goals may occur; financial changes might be imminent. Living on one salary is a change in itself, if staying home with your child is the decision that you make.
In relation to your marriage, change will occur with the addition of another person to your family unit. If a marriage is strong, a child will only enhance it. When a husband is also involved with the child’s basic needs, the family unit is further strengthened, and the father’s physical and emotional support can help alleviate some of the mother’s anxiety.
In relation to questioning one’s ability to be a parent and suitable role model for one’s children — this is a question that all serious-minded adults might ask themselves. Hashem does not expect perfection, and is well aware of our personal struggles. It is precisely because we are limited and constantly learning, that we can teach our children how to deal with their own personal limitations.
In general, if one is working on one’s personal growth in middos and yiras Shamayim, Hashem will assist one in these endeavors. What can be purer than the soul of an infant? If caring parents sincerely desire to be successful in raising their children to be truthful and righteous, surely they will be assisted from Above, and what seems difficult will be an elevating experience.
Lastly, we should do what our mothers and grandmothers did before us. They prayed and poured out tears asking Hashem for siyatta diShmaya and nachas.
May you reap tremendous nachas.