In our latest episode of the Today's Mama podcast, Angela Santomero (creator of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Blue's Clues, Super Why etc.) and I talked about how we both "pre-mourn".
Let me explain . . .
Pre-Mourning: The act of mourning in advance all possible scenarios related to our children growing up. This can also include pre-mourning other potential life scenarios that we've made up and projected in our minds (as well as real, impending scenarios).
No, that's not an actual definition from the dictionary. I made it up. (And I hope that there will be a Wiki dedicated to this topic one day, with a photo of me in the credits). OK, except that I just googled and I found a slightly similar thing in a wiki called "anticipatory grief" -- similar, but not totally the same.
Some examples of pre-mourning:
When my first child was born, I stared into his little face, and panicked because "one day he would go to kindergarten" and leave me. I started to be sad about kindergarten 5 YEARS IN ADVANCE.
I find that parental "pre-mourning" has more to do with milestones.
Other things we tend to pre-mourn:
- All day school
- Junior High / Middle School
- High School Graduation
- Empty Nesting
Pre-Mourning can take several forms. Sadness, anxiety, ridiculous thinking. I've done them all.
I've done this my whole life. I pre-mourned MYSELF graduating from high school, from college . . . if I can see it on the horizon, I can pre-mourn it.
You may also couple your pre-mourning with some "Worst Case Scenario" thinking. You know, that thing you do when you project potential disasters and worst case outcomes for your life. I don't know, things like going blind suddenly, becoming paralyzed from a freakish bug bite, contracting a brain eating amoeba? Not that I've ever thought about any of those things. But if you have . . . here's some advice from my friend Camile, a real life mental health professional, and one of the smartest people I know:
"You can pre-mourn, you can post mourn, neither of these emotions is useful to you or your child. The trick is to be present and love where they are now and who they are now."
She went on to share with me something she and her sister would remind each other of when their kids were younger and they were in the thick of having young kids:
"Love the kids you have, not the ones you wish you had."
"Love the kids who are here right now, not the ones they were or the ones you wish they'll be."
In short. Be present today. Love your kids exactly as they are today. (And quit worrying about the future!)