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The 5 Hardest Things About Being a Mom

Mom Challenge #4: Accepting your child's failures

You're dying for your son to swim competitively, but he's content to just take lessons; you hope your daughter will star as Annie, but she's cast as orphan number 12; you assumed your children would be popular, or at least outgoing, and yet they're total wallflowers. When kids don't live up to your expectations (or even show interest in trying), you're bound to feel disappointed for them. But make no mistake — the deeper disappointment is the one you feel for yourself.

How to Cope
All parents secretly hope their kids will earn an Olympic gold medal and graduate with top honors from Harvard, but most of us didn't do those things, so why should we expect them of our kids? "Your child is unique, with her own talents, dreams, goals, and, perhaps, problems that aren't as you wished them to be — whether because she has a disability, is quirky, or is just different from you," Raskin says. You'll both feel better if you can learn to express pride in things that are genuinely achievable for your child, emphasizing the effort that she's making. "That's the difference between sitting at your 6yearold's piano recital in agony because she missed a few notes or doesn't play as well as the neighbor's kid," says Raskin, "and taking pride in the fact your child is up there doing her best."

Mom Challenge #5: Learning to let go

We all want to keep our children safe from harm — it's arguably our number one job as parents. But it's easy to go overboard because those precious bundles are so vulnerable. After 9/11, Sue Donas, 37, was convinced that someone was going to pipe bomb her daughter's day care near Hillsdale, NJ, because it was housed in a Jewish community center. She used to circle the building looking for suspicious characters. Once she even had an abandoned car towed away. "I drove to work every day anxious that something terrible was going to happen to Ari," Donas says. In fact, the more ways she thought of to protect her child, the more dangers she saw at every turn. "I drove myself crazy over it," she says.

How to Cope
"You can't raise your child in a bubble," Raskin says, "but you can get reassurance that she's in responsible, protective hands." For example, instead of patrolling the daycare grounds, Donas could inquire about the school's security policy, and it might just set her mind at ease. "Never be embarrassed to get the information you need," says Raskin. There's nothing wrong with asking if all the lifeguards are certified or if the babysitter knows CPR. And if you don't like what you hear, make changes. "That eases your anxiety because it means you've done due diligence," Raskin says. "Once you've done all you possibly can, it's easier to let go."

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