I went into this mama thing armored with a detailed list of standards. I would cook, clean, work full time, raise my child and do it all while advocating for the environment as well as my child (not to mention all done with a smile on my made-up face). And then my son was born and just like that I was confronted with a choice: him or me. Those things I’d been so intent on before baby weren’t always attainable. Rather than wallowing in guilt, though, a simple switch of perspective brought freedom into our lives.
Here’s 5 standards I loosened up on after becoming a mom.
- The Paci is for Quitters. I wanted my baby to learn how to self soothe, so we were a pacifier-free house. This lasted all of a few days -- our first doctor's’ visit revealed that maybe, just maybe, a paci wasn’t such a bad idea. Aside from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting babies under 1 sleep with a pacifier in order to reduce the risk of SIDS, my son was born tongue-tied and the doctor felt it would help strengthen his tongue. So paci during sleep it was! Luckily for me, 4 months out he was done, but his safety would win over my ego any day of the week.
- Only Cloth Diapers Would Grace that Cutie-Patootie. I wanted to be a cloth diapering mama, I really did! But the truth is, not a single cloth diaper has ever been slapped on that heiny. (They do, however, work wonders as burp cloths!) The idea of adding an additional load of laundry to the nightly routine was just too much. And while I experimented with countless “environmentally-friendly” brands, they just did not hold a candle to the absorbency of Pampers (there, I said it!). So yes, I add to the landfill, but when faced with a child who was constantly sitting in wet clothes, it was a no-brainer, that tushie won.
- The Boob or Go Home. I was going to be that proud mama who whipped it out anywhere my baby needed me to. Wearing my newly engorged boobs like a badge of honor, the idea of providing my child nutrients straight from my body was a blessing. The problem arose when my health started to deteriorate and he was no longer receiving the nutrition needed to keep him growing and thriving. Watching my baby lethargic made the decision really easy. With many tears, I let go of the idea of being a nursing mama and made the switch to formula. Within minutes, I knew the decision was the right one to make.
- Organic Shmorganic. At home we live fairly organic, but when it came to my baby, the list of foods-that-would-never-enter-his-mouth grew leaps and bounds. Only the purest, most natural would nourish that little body. That is, until it came time to actually feed him solids. The first few months were a cinch, making pureed foods that I could whip up in a jiff. But once the days of being fulfilled by goop were over, I could be bound by my rules, or we could live freely. While we try to practice limited sugar and gluten at home (I’m absolutely astonished and appalled by the list of beginner baby foods that are recommended), creating a limitation on where we can go out to eat was a battle I was not willing to ensue. To me, putting such strict limitations would teach my child the inability to be able to just flow. Easy peasy, baby.
- There IS life after TV. I went back and forth, but after weighing the potential pros and cons I decided to give TV a shot. To be honest, it’s really nice having a 30-minute break. We snuggle, throw on PBS and spend quality time watching something that is aiding in his development. He interacts, laughs, oohs and aahs, points when a character comes on that he likes, dances, claps at the end of a song. It's also a practice in time management -- for both of us. At 2:30 every day, he grabs the remote, knowing that it’s time for us to watch that big glowing box. And once the show is over, we go back to our regularly scheduled activity. To shield him from a tool that could be used effectively due to my fear of it becoming something we too heavily rely upon, in my opinion, would not be honoring his development. So… yeah, we watch TV.
If you told me prior to having my son that these would be ideals I broke, I would have laughed. But being a mother, the most important lessons I have learned are: plan for everything; expect nothing, and sometimes put my beliefs aside for both of our benefits.