Written by: Arlene Martinez
The conversation went something like this: “I just really don’t see the need for my baby to watch tv at least until he or she is two. I mean, why would I put him or her (gently rubbing circles on belly) in front of the tv when that is precious time for brain growth.” Or maybe it was like this: “I would never spank my child. I just think we are capable of being a better example than that.” Or “Junior is rear facing and will be until he’s ten.” By no means are the above scenarios ridiculous, (ok, maybe rear-facing until 10), but these are bits of conversations that I have heard and been a part of first-hand with women like myself who were once non -or- new moms.
I am the mom of three strong-willed, sweet and spicy girls, ages 5, 4, and 2. With my first, like most moms, I was precise and in control. And I loved every bit of it! I truly made all of her food from the breast to solids until she was probably 2! It was pretty much 99% organic. And I blew out my Nutribullet. I have pictures of bags and bags of breast milk and baby food neatly packaged, labeled, and organized in a freezer that didn’t even fit all of it. But true to the tv commercials, my second daughter, who is only 15 months younger than the first, ate all jar food, 99% nonorganic! Why? My Nutribullet burnt out with the first, and I was tired. I pacified myself by getting on a Gerber Baby naturals kick. Did I feel guilty? Yes. Do I still feel guilty? No. Baby girl number three was a good mix on the home-made/ jar food (since my mom bought me a Nutribullet.) However, she recently come into the playroom with hotdog on her breath. That’s a distinct smell, right? I went to the fridge and realized that I hadn’t had any cooked hotdogs left over. No, those were raw hotdogs! Did I freak out. Nah. She was fine. Had that been the first child: whoa, I would’ve had a conniption.
I don’t feel guilty and I do at the same time, I live in mommy-guilt. I had all these ideas and ideals about what kind of mom I would be and how I would raise my perfect children. Then life happens and children are actually their own people. It’s crazy!
I have come to realize that mommy-guilt happens the moment after conception. When they are in the womb, we worry that we are eating the right foods, getting the right vitamins, and resting properly while listening to classical music. Then when they are born, we worry about everything, right? Everything: the right diapers, diaper cream, swaddling, co-sleeping, crib sleeping, blankies, germs, vaccinations or no vaccinations, car seats, toys, breast feeding, bottle feeding, formula, and the list goes on and on and on. Then by the Grace of God, they make it to two, but not before we worried about every single milestone and capturing every single moment, and even worrying about their future preschool and ugh. When does it stop? I have enough friends, and a mom and dad, myself, to know that it doesn’t. Not really. But I do know that I have learned, for the most part, what to freak out about and on which convictions I will not compromise. With some things, I let go and see what happens. With other things, I exert my will and control.
I am no different than any other parent who had those same conversations about parenting when life was about me. Before parenting became my life, before I actually felt sorry for the snotty, vomiting kid who kept me up all night!
I still have conversations that might sound ideal to moms of teenagers or adults. I am sure those conversations will evolve as mine become 8, 7, and 5, then 12, 11, and 9, then there is the looming teenage year. God help us! Did I mention we have three girls? At the end of the day, I do my best each day. I don’t try to live up to the pre-mom me. I only try to give it all over in prayer, and do what I think is best for my little ladies, keeping in mind that I am not the center of this. The only thing permanent in life is change. So my mommy guilt will continue to change as we grow together in this messy, beautiful life.