I’ve only been a mom for about a year, but I’ve managed to pack a decades’ worth of guilt into those 12 months. I’m just talented like that.
If you’re also a mom — or dad, for that matter — I suspect you possess this special talent as well. We’re hardwired for it; we all just want the best for our kiddos, and worry the choices we make now could be slowly turning them into the next Kardashian or Pharma Bro.
Well, in 2016, instead of feeling guilty, let’s put our time and energy toward our many other talents. There are plenty of parents who should feel guilty about the choices they make. (Like this one. And these ones. And definitely the parents of this guy.) But you’re probably not one of them.
Here are the things I’m going to stop feeling guilty about in 2016. Or less guilty about, at least.
Working. I work full time. So does my husband. We like our jobs, and our daughter has never complained about her daycare, which we thoroughly vetted. This is most likely because she can’t talk, but still.
When we go to work, we do not leave her in a cardboard box on the porch, with only a bottle and a package of Pop-Tarts to get her through the day. When you go to work, do you leave your children in a cardboard box on the porch, with only a bottle and a package of Pop-Tarts to get them through the day? No? Well OK, then. I’d say you’re doing a pretty great job at this parenting thing.
(Hey, I never said I set the bar high.)
But seriously, if you feel guilty for not being home with your bambinos all the time, remind yourself of all the things they’re getting exposed to that they might not otherwise: other experiences, people, toys, books, kiddos. And germs. Lots of other germs. But hey, those germs are strengthening their immune system so they’ll get sick less when they start school in a few years. Or so they say.
(Of course, in the midst of working on this post, my sweet girl came down with hand, foot and mouth disease, which she contracted at daycare. So mom guilt might still win out on this one. Again.)
Exercising. Working full-time means I get to spend only a few hours with my little bug on the weekdays, so it’s hard for me to justify doing any additional activities that take away from that time.
But I need to run. Not to lose weight or fit into my jeans — those are just bonuses. I need to run so my crazy doesn’t catch up with me. I suffer from severe bouts of anxiety, and if I don’t take care of myself, it rears its ugly head and takes me down with it.
So, sometimes I let Lily stay at daycare later so I can get my run in right after work, before I get home where I’ll talk myself out of it. Or I leave her with her dad early on a Sunday morning so I can spend a few extra miles earning those endorphins that help keep my anxiety at bay.
Is there something in your life that keeps the crazy from catching up with you? Then make time for it. As long as it’s not something along the lines of, say, juggling knives. We both know that won’t end well.
Supplementing. And straight-up bottle-feeding, for that matter. I’m definitely a proponent of breastfeeding (when circumstances allow) and plan to continue nursing my kiddo until she’s ready to wean.
But we moms sure can get a bit shamey about this topic, can’t we? Millions of babies who didn’t drink a drop of breast milk have grown up to be well-adjusted, productive members of society. In fact, many of them even have jobs, donate to charity and let people with only a few items cut in front of them in line at the grocery store. Some of them also grew up to be Internet trolls. But it had nothing to do with whether they were breast- or formula-fed.
My milk production dipped severely around six months, and despite increasing the frequency of pumping sessions, drinking some nasty tea that tasted like rotten licorice and eating oatmeal until it came out my ears, my supply never increased much. So you know what? We started supplementing with formula. And you know what? Our daughter is happy, healthy and gets enough to eat. Otherwise, she wouldn’t.
And, while I don’t mean to brag … at only 11 months, our kiddo was already playing peek-a-boo at a 12-month-old level.
NOT. PUMPING. I have pumped, at least twice, if not three times, daily, five days a week, since March. Since I work two half-time positions in different offices at a university, I have to haul the stupid pump back and forth to work each day (if I don’t forget to bring it entirely), and schlep it across campus when I switch jobs at lunch. Half the time, I forget some parts or milk in one office and have to rush back to get them once I realize it. All this for a measly five ounces a day, at this point.
So, at the end of the year, I am done. DONE. And if you see a pump floating down the river, it’s definitely because I threw mine in it.
Sleeping in. JK haha lolz! That doesn’t happen. But if it ever does, you can sure as hell bet I’m not going to feel guilty about it.
What else should be on this list? I’m positive I’ve left out some major mom-guilt triggers, possibly because they’re buried so deep in my subconscious, I don’t even know I feel guilty about them. Yet.