Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

I don't think that I had any particular fear linked to parenthood before I became myself a parent. Rather, I was in the blessed ignorance of the first learning stage : you don't know what you don't know.

Now ? Well, let me tell you a story...

This is actually a post I wrote a while ago and that was called 'The Pink Rabbit that Was'

When DDs 1 and 2 were small I regularly went through their stuff and gave to charity any toy that they had outgrown, didn't play with anymore or had never played with. That was the only way I could more or less keep on top of the mess.
These days I unfortunately don't do it often enough and I definitely can't keep on top of the mess. It would actually be more necessary than ever to declutter, the family having grown to 6 members and still living in a terraced, small victorian 3 beds cottage.

Anyway I used to do it and I was generally lucky in my choices, nothing got missed... until the fateful day when DD1 was about 5 and I gave away a very big, very pink soft toy rabbit that belonged to her and that she never played with anymore, only to discover that she actually LOVED it. It hit me during a parent-teacher evening at her school. She had written in her literacy exercise book that she was sad because she had lost her pink rabbit...

I felt wretched, drowned in guilt. I had caused her to be so sad that, at only 5, she had written about it!
I began a frantic search for the rabbit on ebay. I had given it via a collection bag so no hope to retrieve it from the charity shop. For weeks, months, I looked at hundred of posts for soft toys rabbits but not one looked close enough to the 'real' one for me. DH kept telling me that she would forget but she kept talking about it from time to time. Eventually I stopped looking and hoped she would indeed forget. By the way, I hadn't told her it was definitively gone, officially it was only 'lost'.

The time flew by as it does. DD1 still mentionned the pink rabbit occasionally and I would go onto ebay again. Suddenly my little girl was 9 and... still thinking about her rabbit (oh, the guilt for me!). I started looking again, not finding but thinking "I can barely remember what it exactely looked like. Will she?" Finally I found one that looked fairly like it and bought it. I put it on her bed and waited with bated breath.

She loved it. She did think it was the one from when she was small and she's really happy. At least she's happy although I'm still ridden with guilt.

And this is my biggest fear. That time it was a frenzy of decluttering and an unfortunate choice, and I could never have foreseen it would stay with her for so long. All that we do or say can carry such a weight with our children... It could be a harsh word, an unfair blame, anything. The pink rabbit has become a symbol of my biggest parenting fear: what if, one day, I made disappear and could never replace another 'pink rabbit' ?!?

*** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.


  1. Yes, my son can remember pretty much everything. Fortunately, he's used to our dilemma of not being able to find stuff, so we can tell him things are lost indefinitely.

    When my little brother was 2 and I was 11, I took him out to the pond and came home without his teddy bear. We went back when we realized it was missing that night, but no luck. I felt awful, especially since I'd been short with him and dragged him home from the pond. He really, really missed his bear — and then my mother still talks about it, umpteen years later! I guess you don't have to be the mother to feel mother guilt, ha ha!

    1. I just can imagine how my oldest girl would feel if this happened to her an her little sister (respectively 11 and 2 yo !), so yes you don't have to be a mother to feel mother's guilt! I guess it's sort-of-responsible-grown-up's guilt in this case ;)

  2. You were guilty because you are a good mother, one who cares deeply about and for her children. I have no doubt you will have other pink rabbit moments, but it is knowing you have had them that is important as then you will be able to do something about it :)

    1. Thank you for this lovely comment :) As you say there will certainly be other pink rabbit moments but we will cope !

  3. I have kind of made peace with the fact that somewhere, somehow I will do something 'wrong'. All I can do though, is do my best to do the majority right, and trust that I'm raising my girls with empathy that will lead them to understand, down the road, that I only ever want what's good for them - and then they'll become mothers and they'll truly understand for the first time! (Also, I had something similar happen, so now I move everything into the garage or shed for a couple of months, then if it's unmissed, out it goes!)

    1. I think you are so right about our children truly understanding when they'll be parents themselves! That's one of the things I find so frustrating: feeling so utterly misunderstood... But at least I'm aware of there being no way for it to be any different and that it's not my children fault, it's just how it is...!
      Thanks for commenting :)

  4. Thanks for sharing. I struggle a lot with what things to keep and what things to get rid, especially in relation to things of my deceased husband and daughter. I always fear that I'll regret giving away something that would hold a special memory for one of my kids. Now I try to take a bzillion pictures, so we won't feel so connected to things for memories, but can look back at our photos to help trigger our brain. Nonetheless, I still have regrets on a few things that I've passed along and wished I had kept. This parenting gig ain't easy!

    1. Yes, it can be difficult to part with things when grief is concerned... And I think it's often what stops us giving or throwing things away, all kinds of grief, other than for the loss of a loved one : a certain time of our life, certain friendships that dissolved with time, etc.
      Thank you so much for commenting :) xx

  5. Nice story! I relate to your fear from both sides. At some point in my childhood, a yellow hippopotamus with red polka dots came into my life. She was made of pressboard with a slot in her back, intended to be a coin bank, but had no stopper. I never much played with the hippo or gave her a name, but she was a decoration in my primary-colored room, eventually sitting on top of a bookcase just under the light switch. Her huge grin cheered me up when I felt sad. One day when I was 11, I came into my room at night, fumbled for the light switch, and bumped the hippo onto the floor. She cracked across her whole back! I took her to my dad, who said he would glue her; put her on his desk. Hippo sat on his desk for over a year, but I felt confident he would get around to the project eventually. Then I came home from camp, noticed my dad had cleaned off his desk, and went looking for my repaired hippo. No sign of her. When I asked my dad, he said he'd been puzzled to find this broken cardboard hippo among his junk--he could recall no explanation for it--so he threw it away!! I was sad and annoyed. He apologized, but I continued to grump about it every so often for YEARS. Finally I realized (and yes, I told him) that the reason this incident made such an impression on me was that it was so unusual! My dad was typically very respectful of my possessions, even the silly ones--much more respectful than my friends' parents who routinely threw away stuff without asking! I think you are more the respectful kind of parent, too, and that will surely benefit your children in the long run.

    1. I think also that different people don't attach the same value to the same thing and don't think to ask themselves what they mean for others. When I was 7 I gave my dad a bottle opener with the head of the General de Gaulle (yes, quite tacky!) and was quite shocked when he parted from it, although he gave it to me, I thought he would have treasured it for ever! ;)

  6. What a great analogy for so many parenting fears. re: decluttering - we do it pretty regularly. There are some times in my 6yo's life that it has been harder (and we don't get rid of as much), and times it has been easier (and I've wanted to keep things that he says are ok to go!), but it's a nice exercise to do together. He enjoys a (relatively) clutter-free space, too, fortunately. (But I admit - there have been times I've tossed some of the silly little plastic nothings that seem to accumulate with young children. So far, he hasn't seemed to care!)

    1. It used to be impossible to convince my daughters to part with anything! They're getting better though, and to be honest I used to be the same... But now that it's my turn to find tidying up space where there isn't any I am much more ruthless! (with my own stuff)

  7. Yes! The pink rabbit symbolizes the tiny things we torture ourselves with...am I creating horrible emotional scars that will last a lifetime?? My sister had a white fleecy blanket that she carried around until it was literally only a few pieces of threads. My mother bought her a new one and replaced it in the night, my sister was thrilled that she "fixed it!"

    1. Exactly! You have to admire the optimism and trust of children though :)