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Girl Talk: Too Much Worrying

I've always been a bit of a worrier, but since my baby was born, I think I've crossed the line. I obsess about not being able to protect him. Since you're a veteran mom, tell me: Does this ever go away?

Worrying never goes away, which is actually a positive, albeit exhausting, fact of motherhood. If you didn't worry, you wouldn't take precautions like cutting food into tiny pieces or covering your electrical outlets. The real problem, particularly with a first baby, is trying to gain a clear sense of what you can and cannot prevent. Hence, many new moms are haunted by the troubling feeling that they are responsible for preventing all harm. This is impossible. You may realize, though, that it's one thing to know that and another to accept it.

With my first baby, I remember feeling overwhelmed with worry, which is why I think I held the boy even when he clearly wanted to play on the ground. In hindsight, however, I should have realized that I just couldn't protect him from everything. Like the time when I was walking through a doorway with my newborn safely cradled in my arms and accidentally bonked his head on the doorjamb.

Or the time I did it again.

The point is, you are sure to gain a better sense of what you can and can't do to protect your child, which will go a long way in tamping down your fears. If you find yourself unable to continue your daily routine, however, you should seek professional counseling. Make no mistake: Your worries will always be with you, like a latent chicken pox virus. And you can be sure that they will come raging back like a bad case of shingles whenever something goes awry.

But as the emergency passes, so will the worry. In the meantime, remember that harboring concerns is actually a good thing and makes you a better parent. So continue doing your level best to keep your child safe and try to remind yourself that you cannot control all things. In other words, don't worry. Be happy.

Kitty O'Callaghan lives in White Plains, New York, and is the mom of two boys and a girl.