Thursday, July 15, 2010

Devil Mom

I've been frequenting a message board since I got pregnant with Sam. The members all got pregnant at the same time, gave birth around the same time, and now all of our kids are around 5 months old. There are good and bad things about sharing with so many women with so many varying opinions on the right way to raise a child. While it's great that we're all seeing the same milestones at the same time and having similar difficulties, sometimes you get mixed messages on what is the "right way" to raise a child. And if I judged myself solely by the opinions of other moms, I'd have no self-esteem at all. There are so many decisions to be made about what kind of diapers to use, what's best for feeding, what cleaning products are safest, and what the best way is to entertain baby. And sometimes, thanks to the perfectly valid opinions of other moms, my decisions leave me with doubts about my judgment.
(My mom, who hasn't questioned a single one of my parenting decisions, except when it comes to putting Sam in silly hats. Thanks, mom!)

I feel like that all the time. Except probably more, because I'm the anti-organic. I'm one of those devil moms who could have at least pumped breastmilk (Sam couldn't latch), but hated doing it so I quit. I feed him *gasp* soy formula! I sit my son in front of the TV so I can get laundry done. Cloth diapering was a blip on my radar, and I not only considered it, but actually bought some cloth diapers. Now I rejoice in the joy of being able to toss the Huggies in the Diaper Genie. I swear in front of my kid. Neither his food nor his clothes are organic. I started him on solid foods at four months to the day. I let him lick donut frosting off my fingers. I am addicted to lysol wipes. I don't do playgroups. I read to him from my textbooks and sit him with me while I'm watching my lectures online. I take him out shopping for hours at a time and hold up shoes and ask him, "What do you think of these?" In fact, the little diva boy has his own closet full of shoes as well. And when 5:00 comes, and my husband walks in the door, I hand him our son and walk away without a second thought. And I leave them be until I can unwind.

(Solid foods at four months. Try telling my kid he can't have sweet potatoes. He'd fall into a deep depression.)

So, moms, don't ever feel bad. Because here is the important thing: no matter what you do or do not do when it comes to raising your kids, loving them is what counts. I hear all the time how terrible I am for all of the above offenses, but that little boy is my world. We all go through so many changes when we become parents. We become different people. Our marriages/relationships change. In my case, even my car changed LOL. If we ask too much change of ourselves, who are we in the end? Our kids are supposed to add to our lives, not take away from them. It is entirely possible to compromise and find a middle ground.

(He does like formulas. Both soy and Pythagorean.)

If I spent every diaper change preoccupied by the guilt over what kind of diapers I use, I'd miss the fact that my kid giggles uncontrollably when I tell him what a mess he is. If I drove to the Whole Foods, I'd lose 45 minutes in each direction of playtime with him (not to mention I'd put him in danger, because our Whole Foods is in an area with heavy and violent traffic). If I selfishly took care of Sam after my husband got home from work, thinking I could do it better or more efficiently, I'd miss hearing the two of them giggling about goodness knows what in the other room. If I was still trying to pump for him, I would be distracted by the frustration I felt, so instead I give him a bottle of "rat poison" and enjoy the time we spend bonding (yes, it is still bonding even with a bottle).

(I don't care how his dad entertains him if it means I get to shower in peace.)

All moms prioritize differently. And that's not wrong. That's what's right for their life. They have thought through their choices, and made decisions based on the fact that they love their kids. Are organic foods important to me? No, but I love to hear about when my friends go to the farmer's market or Whole Foods and find wonderful things. Is it a priority in my home that we use only organic clothes, bedding, or cleaning products? No, but I am more than happy to encourage my friends when they're trying out some new recipe for a natural toilet bowl cleaner. My priorities are different. My family is different. I try not to keep friends who don't demonstrate that mutual respect.
(My best friend Rachel's son. Because it's important to have mom friends who are crazy, opinionated, wonderfully accepting and encouraging, and just as addicted to Starbucks as you are.)

I will never understand why, as moms, we are so judgmental of one another. And I will NEVER EVER understand the moms who actually SAY something. I might be thinking in my head, "Hey, that's a little crazy." But it's not my life, it's not my kid, and far be it from me to criticize as long as it doesn't involve dangling them from a rooftop by their big toe. I want my friends to be happy mothers, no matter what that means for them: stay at home, have a career, go to school, coach a sport, breastfeed, bottle feed, cloth diaper, whatever. And putting people down for their well-reasoned choices? That just makes them feel terrible. I know it makes me feel terrible when people say things to me. But it doesn't change me, either.

(Sarcastic moms, unite!)

Today's lesson: Just keep on doing what's right for your family. Love your kids. Make educated decisions, and then accept them without guilt or regret. And don't let anyone else tell you they could do it better. You're the mother of your kids. No one can be a better mom to them than you are.