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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Confessions of a Guilty Mom (or two)

(written by Meg)

I think all you moms out there are familiar with mom guilt. It's that twinge a woman* feels when she overhears another mom at the playground saying something like "well, of course we're only feeding our daughter homemade, organic, local, fair trade, non-GMO, hormone-free baby food." You nod
If you dump Gerber Sweet Potatoes from the jar into a bowl
does that make them local?
your head enthusiastically while frantically covering up the label on your just-plain-old-Gerbers baby
food. You consider buying some organic jars to have with you when you're out in public. Ugh, my kid is going to grow an extra arm because her pears aren't organic! Welcome to mom guilt.

Perhaps I put most of this burden on myself, but I don't think I'm alone. It's not that I doubt my abilities as a mom, per say. But I can't help feeling a little bit bad that I don't seem to have enough time to make homemade baby food after working 40 hours a week and taking care of an infant during the rest of my waking hours. Never mind taking care of our diabetic cat, doing laundry, making dinner...oh, and occasionally taking care of myself! So confession #1: Ella sometimes eats non-organic baby food***. I'm trying to come to terms with this reality and it's harder than I thought it would be. It's harder than it should be. To even things out, sometimes I spend hours (yes, hours)** scrolling through reviews of activity cubes, debating whether or not they are more useful and enriching than, say, a push walker. Or maybe a learning table. But learning tables all have battery operated lights and sounds. Oh, you mean you didn't know lights and sounds will ruin your baby's brain? "We try not to overwhelm little Timmy with too much stimulus." Insert enthusiastic head nod and frantic covering up of the light-up toys in our house. Confession #2: Sometimes when I just need 2 minutes to run to the basement and load the washer, Ella sits in front of the scrolling screensaver on our TV. Please don't call the mommy police.

Confession #3: I don't want to be a stay at home mom. Oof, it feels good to get that off my chest. Do I love my kiddo? Yes. Do I want to spend time with her? Yes. Do I look forward to picking her up at daycare? Yes. Do I want to be home with her all day, every day? No. Is this something I should feel guilty about? Gosh, I don't know, but I sure do feel it, especially when other moms talk about crying in their cubicles because they wish they were home with their babies. I respect that, but I suspect I might actually do more crying if I was home every day! I was serious about not calling the mommy police, ok??

Sometimes I have to take a step back (walk away from the Amazon.com toy reviews, Meg) and remember that Kate and I are definitely, without a doubt, for sure more capable and concerned than the majority of parents in this country, just by virtue of our status as educated and relatively privileged people who purposefully brought a child into this world. Our daughter will never go hungry. She'll never go without healthcare. She'll always know she's loved. She'll see museums and theater and parks and baseball games. She will survive the plain old pears and occasional light up toys. I mean...she will, right?

I also have to remind myself that when I was a kid, all babies were put to sleep on their stomachs with blankets, which is absolutely something to call the mommy police about these days. Most people let their babies "cry it out," something a lot of parents consider cruel now. My dad likes to tell the story about how I was "crying it out" louder than usual one night and they found my head lodged between the crib mattress and the rails. Oops. Don't forget the time I fell head over heels down a flight of stairs while strapped into a walker. And did they even have organic food in the 80s? Anyway, I'm sure we all have stories like this, and we survived! We did more than survive, actually. We thrived.

So, why the guilt, moms? Are we, the moms, doing this to each other and ourselves? I've found that other moms are very quick to judge when it comes to parenting techniques and ideas, especially in online mommy forums. (Note to self: Leave online mommy forums.) I'm guilty of jumping to a quick judgement of other moms myself sometimes."Oooh..they're using a bumbo...I guess they didn't see that article about lumbar flexion..." Could we all try to be a little more accepting of others and ourselves, and assume we're all doing the best we can?

Oh, and if a mommy asks, Ella never spends more than 20 minutes a day in her Jumparoo. Never. Because that could cause hip dysplasia and we wouldn't want that. Not to mention the dreaded lights and sounds. Insert frantic head nodding and Jumparoo hiding here.

Jumparoo, babysitter,
Enjoying the Jumparoo for 19 minutes.

----

*Disclaimer: It's possible that men experience "Dad guilt," but I'm not a dad, so I can't say.

**Hours at work (hope my boss isn't reading this...), so not hours I could be using to make baby food. 

***Shout out to Alison, Mom Extraordinaire, who shares Theo's homemade goodies with Ella! 

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