Monday, February 22, 2010

Motherhood with a Side of Guilt

Now that I am a mom my life is fraught with guilt. They forgot to mention this issue in baby class. I think guilt is one of those things that no one talks about, but everyone deals with. As mothers, we feel that we have to do everything, and do it well. There is so much pressure out there to be the perfect mother and we give ourselves little room to fail.
There is guilt associated with everything--nursing, sleeping, holding, educating, even diapering. The pressure to breast feed is immense and there are numerous opportunities for guilt to take over. The current climate encourages mothers to think that they are bad or selfish if they choose not to breast feed for what ever reason. Yet lots of people our mother's age believe breast feed babies are not getting full or getting the right vitamins. Then there is the cloth diaper/disposable diaper choice. Guilt over all those diapers going to landfills, versus the horror of having to put dirty diapers in my washing machine. Then I hear about people having a family bed which leads to the question is cosleeping better than putting her in her crib? Does she feel unloved or lonely if she is not in our room? I flip flop between the worries that I am either holding her too much, or not enough. Should I feel guilty when I let her just lay on the couch beside me? Is it bad to hold her for three hours straight? And of course you want your baby to be smart. Does she have enough stimulation? She could be getting too much or is it making her cranky. Should I teach her sign language or read to her more? All of these things, plus about a million other things, can be guilt ridden decisions no matter which choice we moms make.
Babies don't come with instruciton books (serious mistake in my opinion) so we look to all these other ways to educate ourselves. There are books, DVD's, websites, support groups, and classes, all to help us be better moms. The amount of theories out there on how to raise a happy healthy child are overwhelming. A baby nurse told me when A was first born that Americans are over educated. I am starting to agree. I have looked to lots of different resources to help me help the child. Lots of these resources (especially the books!) serve up plenty of guilt with their advice. I know a lot of moms who swear by these books--The Baby Whisperer, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Baby Wise, etc. I think they have good ideas, but I can't help but feel that maybe I should trust myself a little more and look to the "experts" a little less. I think other Moms are actually the best resource, because their advice is practical and they will tell you what they think are the good parts of the theories, what really works. By being positive support for each other, maybe we can do away with some of the guilt that is so free flowing. If I know someone who is supplementing with formula, then i feel a little less guilt over giving my child formula. When another new mom tells me that she wears yoga pants all day, I feel a little better about my dread in having to wear pants that actually button. I think for Lent I will give up the guilt. I need to learn to trust myself and kick the self-doubt to the curb. I am a good mom, and my heart knows it, but my brain does not always believe it. With so much information out there it is easy to lean on what everyone else thinks instead of what your gut is telling you. So I say, NO MORE. I will make my decisions and stand by them. I will try hard not to let the guilt take over and to remember that I am a good mom. I will remind all of my friends that they are good moms too. We all need support to avoid the guilt that is always right there on the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head. And remember, the babies won't remember the time we forgot to give them a bath for 4 days or care that we bought generic diapers. They be just fine whether they get formula or the boob. Our babies will grow older knowing they are loved, and that is the most important thing. That I can do guilt-free.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...