During both of my boys' babyhoods, I breastfed and co-slept with and wore my babies. But I also introduced solid food at five months, had them sleep whenever they would in a bassinet, and used a stroller for longer distances or outings. Of course, I made all my baby food, had them sleep in our room for a good long while, and made sure they wore 100% cotton. Then again, I also got epidurals during both inductions, used disposable diapers, and hated every mommy-n-me group I tried.
See what I just did there? That's my imaginary mommy scorecard.
When I look back at the years I was parenting babies, I wish I wouldn't have spent so much time trying to keep score of what I was doing right or wrong and just relaxed a little.
My boys were both happy, healthy, thriving babies, and that alone should have been enough proof that I was doing a good job. But of course, I was keeping some imaginary scorecard. Several of my friends had introduced me to attachment parenting and Dr. Sears, and I loved and naturally leaned toward a lot of his and his wife's thoughts on parenting; however, some of it just didn't fit into my life.
I was never going to be AP "enough." I think, at the time, my scorecard reflected lost points for that.
To yet another group of friends, extended breastfeeding was less highly regarded, and there wasn't much support. In their company, I felt like a hippie weirdo. I gave myself a few extra points on my scorecard for bucking the system and doing it anyway.
But then it came time to put my kids in daycare so I could return to work. Minus, minus, minus and guilt, guilt, guilt. And yet, at the same time, I enjoyed working, we counted on my income, and the boys both adapted well to childcare. So why all the minuses?
I'm not sure what it is about motherhood that has caused me to put more weight on an imaginary scorecard than on the reality before my own eyes. I mean, if I'm happy and healthy and baby is happy and healthy, shouldn't that be good enough? Shouldn't that be, in fact, perfect? There is no reason a mom has to fit into any one mold of parenting, especially if you're forcing yourself or your baby into a mold that just doesn't fit.
For all of you new moms out there, you don't have to be any one kind of mother. You just have to be your child's mother and true to yourself, whatever that looks like. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Look at your baby. Is he happy and healthy as a general rule? Now look in the mirror. Are you happy and healthy as a general rule? Then you're doing a perfect job. Keep it up!
What do you think? Does natural parenting have to be all or nothing?
Image via Sheri Reed