As I approach 16-months of on-the-job training, I cautiously feel as though I am getting the hang of this “mom gig.”
My daughter is a smart and happy, and above all else, a healthy child, and for this I am beyond grateful.
While it’s not all been pretty, every now and then my husband and I have this “A-Ha” moment where we feel super proud of ourselves for keeping this little human alive and well.
We’ve even ventured to say that this more independent, toddler stage is our favorite; although I feel confident that we will have many more.
Being a parent is the greatest job I’ve ever had (and I have a great one) and by far the most challenging.
These sweet, little children don’t come with a manual. Although I was admittedly well-read on the subjects of birth, breastfeeding, and sleep-training (HA), I did not really know much about newborns generally.
Sure, I worked in a daycare throughout high school and babysat in my free time, but there is something innately terrifying about having a small human with very limited means with which to communicate, completely and 100% dependent on you.
There are many, many things that no one tells you, but most notably in my experience, is that being a parent IS FREAKIN’ SCARY.
I had no idea about how to handle the anxiety.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but there were so many nights that I just sat and watched her breathe. I won’t go into details, but there were many thoughts (not all positive!) on replay in my head for the first year or so.
I count my blessings yet again as I can count on one hand the number of issues we’ve navigated throughout her short little life so far – slight adverse reactions to a vaccine, some minor trips and falls, and (most recently) a busted lip – I know that these are small potatoes and for that we are incredibly fortunate.
I also know that these things minor things will happen. Aside from buying stock in Tylenol and replenishing my first aid kit, there’s not a single thing I can do about it.
However, there are steps I can take to ease my anxiety about the big stuff.
Namely, who would raise my child if something happened to Mark and me?
Would our respective families fight for custody? (For the record, I don’t think that they would – but it happens!)
Who would have the authority to seek medical treatment for her if we were unable to do so?
Do we have enough to financially support her into adulthood in the event of both of our deaths?
The thought of a judge with zero knowledge of our family dynamic making decisions about the long-term care of my daughter is chilling.
The thought of someone other than us raising our daughter is painful to even contemplate, and I really hope it never comes into play, but I’d be remiss If I didn’t put a plan in place to make sure it was as trauma-free as possible for her if it did.
There are documents we can execute now to provide for emergency and permanent guardians, appoint health care surrogates to authorize her medical care if we are unavailable, and establish a trust for her behalf.
In the trust, we can even provide for an allowance, school expenses, education, healthcare, and allow distributions from her trust for things that are important to us – like travel – so that she is raised in as like-minded a manner as possible in our absence.
Further, a trust allows us to make financial provisions for her guardian(s) to make sure that they don’t have to worry about the additional cost that a child brings, but can focus solely on loving her instead.
I can’t say enough how important Estate Planning is for the parents of young children, myself included, and the peace of mind that getting your affairs in order brings.
I’m happy to say that my anxiety has drastically decreased in direct correlation to my daughter’s rapidly growing vocabulary. That’s not a coincidence, by the way. Her telling me what she needs really takes the guesswork out of things…
But suffice it to say that as soon as I feel like I’ve got it all figured out, everything will change… yet again.
Amanda “World’s Okayest Mom” Lynch Elliott
P.S. Check out our website to download our FREE Florida estate planning guides, including the one on choosing the very best guardians for your child(ren).
P.P.S. Also, be sure to check out the recent segment on WEAR 3: “The High Cost of Dying,” featuring My Pink Lawyer® Owner/Founder, Kristen Marks, and some of our recent Estate Planning clients who discuss the importance of planning for your young children.