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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting Over That Mommy Guilt

It was so easy when I was pregnant with Cate.  So easy to say that I would:
  • breastfeed for at least a year
  • have a natural childbirth
  • cloth diaper because it's good for the environment
  • not let her watch any TV, ever, until she was at least 2
  • make all of her baby food myself
  • not let her use a pacifier
  • never buy her clothes with characters on them
  • teach her sign language
  • spend every minute I possibly could with her
Then she was born.

I was nobody's hero and wanted the epidural.

Breastfeeding, thankfully, went incredibly well and Cate nursed until her 1st birthday and used a stash of the frozen stuff for every other meal until almost 14 months.

Baby Einstein DVD's became my saving grace when she was fussy and I needed a shower.  Elmo and Thomas the Train do the same things now.  And her TV watching is most definitely minimal compared to a lot of her peers.

Cloth diapering proved to be impractical for us...so to make up for the disposables we throw in the landfill, we recycle EVERYTHING we possibly can (made easier by our recycling pickup now accepting ALL types of plastic and used pizza boxes).

I made her baby food when I had the time...but Earth's Best and Gerber Organics were just as good as what I put in my food processor...and much less time consuming. 

A pacifier puts her to sleep...and that's the only time she uses it.

I don't care what characters are on her clothes (to clarify...her play clothes) when generous friends are giving me perfectly good hand me downs which Cate will outgrow within a few months anyway.

Cate started talking early and sign language wasn't really needed...and I was too lazy to really look into it.

And while I do love spending a lot of quality time with her, I look forward to date nights, girls' nights out, or even just walking the dog for a half hour by myself.

I'm not sure where we, as moms, come up with all of these things that we will and will not do with our kids.  It's so easy when we're pregnant and so much harder when they're actually here.

For awhile I felt guilty about some of these things.  Am I a bad mom because I looked forward to going back to work?  Because I didn't cloth diaper?  Because she watches Sesame Street and has Elmo on her shirt?  Because she sleeps with a pacifier still, at 20 months old?  Because I didn't make all of her baby food? 

NO NO NO NO NO!  Learning to let go of the mommy-guilt was hard for me and still is sometimes.  But one of the things I am coming to learn is that there is no one right way to be a mom.  What works for one mom, doesn't work for all moms, or may not even work for any other mom.  As a mom, if I continue to compare myself to other moms, in other situations, I'm only going to be frustrating myself.  Mothering is a give and take.  You do have to make compromises.  That little list you have running in your head while you're pregnant may not be practical once you meet your child in person.

I've found that one of the best ways to let go of the guilt is to focus on the things I do best as a mom.  I love to read aloud and am one heck of a reader (with voices, actions, etc.)  I'm great at coming up with things to do with her (the zoo, the park, the library, the children's museum, sidewalk chalking, or just playing on the living room floor).  I can make her laugh...even in the midst of a temper tantrum.  I learned to sew-- mostly so I could make her cute clothes-- and I think I've got a natural talent for it.

I think it's important as moms to celebrate the things we do well in an effort to let go of the guilt we impose on ourselves when we think we don't measure up to someone else's standards-- when we think we've compromised.  We know what's best for our children and we need to capitalize on our strengths instead of stressing out about our weaknesses.  Won't you celebrate your strengths with me today?

~Melody :-)


Emily and Jason said...

Great post Melody! I all ready have worries about so many of those things.. and my child isn't even here yet! It's great to hear other moms admit that they can't do it all, and that it's okay! I am glad Miss Cate is doing well! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the honesty! Seems to be the common theme this week. :) As we prepare for Norah, I have that mental list but I'm open to edits - thanks for reminding me!