I did a lot of “mom planning” in my years of daycare and nanny jobs, and it always sounded so easy. First, I would be a stay at home mama. No babysitters needed--my child isn’t leaving my sight until at least 5. I would exclusively breastfeed until 12 months, until suddenly he/she would just have a mutual understanding with me that it was time to wean. My child would only be fed homemade, organic baby food, and I would never allow them to eat Kraft Mac & Cheese, are you crazy? My baby would definitely sleep through the night at precisely at 8 weeks old, because I’ll have he/she on a schedule (which was a piece of cake get them on) and they will be so adaptable that even leaving the house will not deter their nap routine. They absolutely will not watch tv more than one hour a day, and their lips will not even touch sugar until they are well over the age of 7. What about their first birthday? Don’t worry, I’ve got that handled too. A flourless, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free cake made with whipped coconut frosting is in the works.
Sounded so easy in my head.
But life didn’t quite turn out the way I “planned”. I got pregnant during my first semester of teaching as a graduate student, so I wouldn’t be the stay at home mom I, and others thought I would (or should?) be. C was born with palate issues that affected her ability to nurse properly, and because of that we had to supplement with formula starting at just a few days old. My organic homemade baby food plan lasted about as long as it takes you to say it, and she eats mac & cheese on the regular. Oh and that sleeping schedule? She’s going to be TWO soon and still wakes up often in the night. We are firm believers in television (Daniel Tiger, anybody?) and the girl can smell sugar from a mile away. What can I say? She's like her mama.
I kid now, but I spent the first year of motherhood beating myself up about all of the plans I had made and how I was failing my daughter. I felt so much guilt because I wasn’t there for her 24/7. I remember coming home crying one day when someone asked me the benefit of teaching after having babies followed by “I just couldn’t do that to my kids”.
Excuse me while I gulp back my tears.
I was devastated. I was THAT person who other moms think I put career before family. I was Julia Braverman from Parenthood who had no clue what was going on in her child’s life because work was the priority. I was ashamed to give my baby a bottle in public without giving a disclaimer that she had feeding issues and this wasn’t my first choice of nutrition. I felt the need to pretend like she slept well through the night so that people didn’t think I was bad at being a mom. And don’t even get me started about what was said to me when we found out that baby two was coming along just five months after the first. You honestly would have thought I admitted to a crime. There’s even a “perfect” way to space your babies apart? I just couldn’t win.
I felt like I had to be perfect, yet couldn’t attain it.
Why? Why have we created a mom society that has to look and act a certain way? Why do we gossip, and talk about other moms behind their backs, judging their parenting choices? Why do we instagram the good, as if bad parenting days never happen? Why do we feel like we have have a facade of perfection?
My point in all of this, is to encourage you that you don’t have to pretend to be the perfect mom.
YOU ARE THE PERFECT MOM.
You are exactly what your child needs. And for you future mama's, you will be exactly what your babies need. Take the expectations that society, or even “well meaning” friends place on you. Whether you raise your baby on kale & start mommy/me yoga classes at 6 months, or you introduce your baby to mac & cheese as soon as possible, that’s ok! Because you know exactly what they need! If you stay home with your kids, that’s awesome! I’m so happy you get that opportunity. But if you have to, or *gasp* WANT to work, that’s okay too! You have a special gift that others are so thankful you utilize in the workplace.
Just know that you are doing it right, whatever “it” looks like for you. You are their mother, and you will have all the tools you need to raise them the exact way they need to be raised, even if (and when) that means you make a mistake or two along the way. But as a fellow mama friend once told me “we do the best that we can and apologize for the mishaps later”. ;)
So go be free to be the best mama you can be! Have fun! And enjoy the journey! And know that I’m cheering us all on!