guilt-free motherhood

Warning: This post contains a curse word. It’s asshole. Apologies. Also I may or may not say shit, I haven’t decided yet. Oh and damn. Well there’s a lot of curse words in here. It’s that kind of post.

That’s right, I said it, the “g” word. Guilt.

You know you’ve felt it.

You felt it that time you bribed your kids with McDonalds because you just wanted them to let you get the shopping done and you would have given your left dang arm to get out of there alive. So you did it. Health be damned. And then, damn, I fed my kids McDonalds. Crap. They are DEFINITELY going to get heart disease. And it’s my fault.

You felt it when you gave your 3 year old  a sucker for pooping on the potty. But dangit if you didn’t want to change one more poopy diaper. You would have found that kid a pony if he’d have crapped on the toilet. And then, damn, I’m probably destroying his teeth. Great.

You felt it when you yelled at your kids for leaving their shoes in front of the door for the fortieth time today. But if you tripped on those shoes one more stinkin time someone was going to get something so much worse than a yelling. They weren’t even gonna need shoes anymore. And then, damn, I’m not supposed to yell. Perfect.

You felt it when you said your 13 year old was acting like an asshole. Even though he was totally acting like an asshole. You shouldn’t have told him he was. Even if he TOTALLY WAS.  Damn, that was harsh. Awesome. (This actually happened here like two days ago)

You felt it when you caught your 6 month old watching {WHATDIDYOUSAY} TV. And you let her. Because her watching Blues Clues meant you had five minutes to fold a quarter of a load of laundry. And HELLO you have four kids and you do 87 loads of laundry a week (ok it’s only like 18 but STILL). But now, damn, she’s probably brain damaged. Her IQ just dropped 10 points because you weren’t interacting with her. She’s NEVER going to get into Berkeley now and it’s your fault.

You felt it when you {ohmigawdgasp} got an epidural after you SWORE you’d do it all naturally. But holymotherofgod contractions HURT. Why didn’t someone tell you how bad they HURT? THEYHURTSOBAD. You weren’t prepared. But then, damn, what is everyone going to think? I’m a wuss. Outstanding.

Or when you got a c-section because you’d been in labor for 172 hours and The Doctor came in like the knight in shining armour that he was and said “I think we should….” and he didn’t even have to finish his sentence because if he had said “…jump off the Golden Gate Bridge”, you totally would have opted right out of labor to do it. You were that tired. But then, damn, you didn’t do it ‘natural’.  Fantastic.

You felt it when you were in the shower and the baby started crying but dangit if it wasn’t the first time in a hundred thousand days you were actually going to shower AND shave your legs and you had to because your husband was starting to mistake your leg for his in the middle of the night. SO you finished. You HAD to. But then, damn, are your legs more important than your child. You’re a selfish jerk. Shit.

You’ve felt it.

I’ve felt it.

And I want us to stop it.

I want us to. Stop. Feeling. Guilty.

OK You should feel guilty about some things. You should. You should feel guilty if you eat out every single day. You should definitely feel guilty if you haven’t hugged your kids in any amount of time you can remember. You should feel guilty if your kids think your pajamas are regular clothes and that you live on the couch (and you should get some help). You should feel guilty if your kids think ketchup is a vegetable (actually, that one is debatable). But you should definitely pick your guilt battles with yourself…

You shouldn’t feel guilty for eating a piece of cake.

Unless you eat cake for every meal. Then yeah, we’ve got a problem.

But when it comes to parenting… stop beating yourself up.

Example: I would NEVEREVEREVEREVER in a millionzilliontrilliongazillion years let my baby cry it out. (Also known as CIO in the Attachment Parenting community.) Never. Ever.

Ever.

Wellllll. Never ever until my 14 month old child hadn’t slept in 14 months. And therefore I’d hadn’t slept in 14 months. And 14 months is a loooog time. And I was working full time. And nursing all night. And I. Was. Exhausted. And when I say exhausted I mean tired to the point of hallucination. Tired to the point that I would literally rather have DIED than have gone one more night without sleep.  Then I might, just maybe stand by her bed and let that child cry. To sleep. Because I was out of options. And I truly and honestly didn’t know what else to do.

And I’d probably feel guilty about it. Perhaps I’d spend the rest of the child’s life feeling guilty about it.

Or I could just say to myself, “Self, you did the best you could. Forgive yourself and move on.”

Example #2: Perhaps you planned to breastfeed. Because you know that breastfeeding is hands down the best and most healthy choice for your beautiful baby. So let’s say the baby is born and he doesn’t latch right and your nipples are bleeding and you’re afraid he’s starving because all he’s drinking is the blood from your bloody nipple and you have no help, no where to turn, no one to ask. And you’re pretty sure your nipple is going to actually fall right off. And so, in desperation, you give your baby a bottle. Of FORMULA. {GASP} And that means your milk doesn’t come in. And the cycle continues. And the next thing you know it, you’re bottlefeeding.

Crap.

And you feel guilty. Because you should have tried harder. You should have pumped longer. Shoulda Shoulda Shoulda.

Or you can say to yourself, “Self, you did the best you could. Forgive yourself and move on.”

Here’s another example that I recently dealt with: I practice attachment parenting. I practiced attachment parenting before attachment parenting had a name and a book. It was what I thought was logical. Feed your baby with your boobs. Whenever they are hungry. Keep them close to you. Wear them. Love them. Guide them gently. Mother lovingly. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Logical. Right?

But then I found out it was a ‘thing’. Oh Attachment Parenting you mean. Oh yes. yes. MMMhmmmm. That’s me. I’m an Attached Parent. I do ALL of those things. I’m so super ATTACHED. I am The Attached Parent.

Wait.

{begin PG-13 section}

I want to have sex with my husband. Soooo I’m going to put the baby in her bed to start the night. Because I want to have sex. In my bed. Uh oh. Hang on. Let me go to the API website and check. Crap. That’s not bedsharing. WAIT. Does that mean I’m not an ATTACHED PARENT? Uh oh. I’m not sure. Let me think about this. Maybe we better put the baby in our bed and I’ll nurse her to sleep and then I’ll slip out quietly and put on lingerie and then we better just have sex on the sofa. Yeah. Ok. That’s fine. Cause the baby is in our bed. So I’m still an Attached Parent.

Phew. That was a close call. I almost lost my title.

WHAT?

My baby is sleeping safely, snugly and happily in her CRIB and then she wakes up and comes to my bed.

Oh and guess what… I have sex. With my husband. Like at night and everything. It’s cra-zay.

{end PG13 section}

I’m not saying I advocate CIO or bottle feeding (because I don’t). And I do bedshare. Because I’m a mammal and I think babies are meant to be close to their parents. When they need you. I think you should comfort your baby. If you can. And you should breastfeed. Unless something happens and you absolutely cannot. What I am saying is, if you did your BEST, the BEST you could, you should move on.

Move on.

We moms LOVE guilt. It’s our FAVorite. We feel like we have to EARN the right to be proud of ourselves. Like if I can’t blog and be an outstanding patient parent and be a super awesome sexy wife and sew a dress and be at two band performances and teach the baby sign language and do elimination communication and co-sleep and help with algebra and have an etsy store and exercise 3 days and cook healthy homemade food and bake a cake ALL. THIS. WEEK. Then I’ve failed. As a mother. As a human. And I’ve failed all the other mothers before me. And all of mankind. For eternity.

When did we decide success meant we had to be all do all have all know all?

Now. I think some guilt can be GOOD. When applied properly it is a good motivator and makes us strive to be better. I mean if you think it’s ok to feed your kid cake for breakfast every day then yeah, feel a little guilty and maybe pop some wheat bread in the toaster. But the problem with this overwhelming guilt is that is PARALYZES us. It may not seem like it but it does. It makes us feel like we are failing and thus it makes us afraid to further fail. And it stops us in our tracks.

So have some guilt. Just a little bit. But have cake too.

life’s too short ya’ll

j-diddle

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Comments
12 Responses to “guilt-free motherhood”
  1. No mother should feel guilty about trying to raise kids. Keep up the good work. Enjoy that slice of cake.

  2. Great post! I don’t think there is such a thing as guilt free motherhood … from the day you find out you are pregnant the guilt sets in – that glass of wine and ciggie you had before you found out you were pregnant to the junk food you craved that lacked any nutrition during your pregnancy to the drugs you took to ease the headaches … the list is endless – we are only human mama … I am admittedly a new mother of 1 but I feel some level of guilt every. day. I take it as something that comes with the territory. We all do our best! Enjoy that cake … don’t worry about stopping at one slice!

  3. Staci Sheets says:

    Love this post…sooo true :)

  4. Leasia says:

    Oh wow! I didn’t know I was an “attached parent” or that it was a movement. That’s really funny. I put my kids in bed with me until they’ve started sleeping through the night, then I moved them. After trying to keep the first out in his own room(I don’t know how you’d do it with a newborn without losing your sanity) I gave up and kept them close. Works, and well if you and the hubby want a little horizontal tango, a little time in the crib isn’t going to hurt the baby. :D

  5. liz says:

    I think there are too many “movements”. Its the New KUWTJs’ hogwash. Just do what feels natural for you. I can guaran-dang-tee that these bloviating busy bodies that write these books, and come up with these formulas for perfect parenting are full of bull dukes. There is no way a mom or dad can be ON all the time. It’s a joke, and its meant to tax us to the point of meltdown. I am going counter culture to the counter culture. Yo HOLMES SMELL YA LATAH!!!

  6. Staci says:

    Liz, you crack me up!!! You have certainly picked up on the local vernacular…with a little fresh prince thrown in for street cred…Too funny :)

  7. liz says:

    bull dukes was my nice way of saying bull shizzle. But it could be mistaken as a typo for the term used for the fairer sex that is a wee bit “tough”. Sorry.

  8. Staci says:

    It was the hogwash and the guaran-dang-tee that made me LOL…and miss TN and its colorful inhabitants.

  9. Jennifer says:

    THANKYOU!

  10. Judy says:

    This was too funny! Just FYI- I am now a “grammy” and a “great-grammy”, but I still totally relate. Most of those things happened to me 30+ years ago and I am STILL guilting over them!!! I am still wondering if the mistakes my kids are still making is somehow related to my parenting skills (or lack of). If I had maybe breastfed him longer, let them sleep in my bed more, DIDN’t take those nice showers while she was caged in her playpen, maybe should have punished more and guilted less…..the list goes on. But I really did the best I could with the knowledge I had then (I am so much wiser now- I could do a whiz-bang job of raising perfect children- if only I had the energy and desire to do it all again!) But I don’t. Being a grandma is great. I can nag at my kids on whether they are feeding the little darlings enough veggies, but I take them to Ronny Mac’s for Happy Meals when I get them:) I bake them cookies and Rice Krispie bars and let them stay up later than usual when they are at my house:) My job now is not to be the enforcer or the drudge. I just give them tons of unconditional loving and let them know that Grammy ALWAYS loves them- even when they are grounded. It’s actually a really nice and stress-free part of my parenting life.

  11. Susie says:

    LOVED this! Just yesterday I thought I’d ruined my 9 year old’s day because he was wearing the same shorts for the third day in a row and I ragged on him about it just as he was getting dropped off at school. And then shouted “I LOVE YOU!” out the window as I drove away in my pajamas. At least I was dressed when I picked him up after school! :)

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