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Girl Talk: Paranoid Mama

Q. I've turned into one of those paranoid mothers! Everything seems like a threat, from the man who smiles at my daughter in the market to the food I buy for her (is it full of pesticides?). I know moms are supposed to be protective, but isn't this a bit much?

A.
As one of "those paranoid mothers," allow me to welcome you into my world. As you have noticed, it is a place that is both beautiful and menacing. While it's brilliantly lighted by our babies' existence, their radiance necessarily casts some very long, very scary shadows.

With new, profound love comes new, profound fear. That's why you can't help worrying about everything from a well-meaning niece who holds your daughter with less care than she holds her iPod to the guy across the street who always seems to drive just a little too fast around the neighborhood. And forget about the state of the world! Even watching the evening news or reading the daily paper can be enough to keep you awake all night.

That said, it is possible to ease your racing mind. If you worry about your niece's babysitting skills, give her a tutorial on babycare the next time she comes over. If you worry about careless drivers, take less traveled roads more often. If you fear chemical additives, buy organic products. Do you see what I'm getting at? You probably know that you can't control everything (in fact, I don't believe any of us can really control anything), but you'll feel better if you at least try to make thoughtful choices.

Also, you might want to take a break from the TV news and newspapers. Instead, choose to watch inspirational stories, no matter how schmaltzy, or pick up a book that promises a happy ending. And finally, share your thoughts with your other mom friends. Once spoken out loud, they'll probably lose some of their potency. And chances are, your friends worry about a lot of the same things you do, and you'll find comfort in that, too.

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