A hefty dose of mom guilt.

October 28, 2013

Over the last seven months of motherhood on this side of the womb, I have made countless decisions on behalf of my son. I have scheduled and rescheduled appointments based on how work and our calendar and his weekly age all line up (because apparently seeing him just one day earlier than his monthly birthday would turn the world upside down). I have gone from nursing to pumping to this formula to that formula in this bottle and in that bottle to see what works best. We toured daycare after daycare - yes, daycare - in those early months to see which would be the best fit.

And I have done all of these things covered in guilt.

Mom guilt.

We have one of the hardest jobs in the world, this job of raising these tiny humans that are fully dependent on us. Us. The ones that are still learning and figuring it out together because as many books there are on the subject of babies, each baby comes with their own set of guidelines. And as soon as we think we have it figured out, something changes. 

I planned on nursing my baby from the get-go. But when I found myself crying more than he was, feeding him more than I remembered to feed myself, entering a dark place in my head that I couldn't shake, anticipating the unbearable pain each and every time he wanted to eat, pumping next to nothing (literally...nothing), and finally being completely emptied at 3 a.m. while he was still screaming - screaming - for more, we had to make a decision. And that decision found us in Walgreens in the middle of the night staring at rows and rows of formula that I said I'd never use.

That's when the mom guilt really started. 

I see their looks of concern when I'm shaking his formula into the bottle at the dinner table in the restaurant while his arms are reaching out to grab it from me. 

I hear the tone in their voice drop when they ask if I'm back at work and I tell them, "Yes, full-time," and then I see them start shifting when I say I have him enrolled at a daycare down the street. 

And then there are all those countless, minor decisions we have to make that just give fuel to the fire of judgement.

It seems like there isn't a right answer sometimes.

We use disposable diapers instead of cloth. Sometimes, we put him in front of Little Einsteins because we just need ten minutes - ten minutes - to get dressed for work and out the door or to get dinner in and out of the oven. Sometimes he roams around in his diaper in the afternoon because I don't feel like putting him in the fourth onesie of the day. And if we're busy in the evening and he's too tired, we skip his bath time. 

The truth is, there is no right way. But if we do what's best for our baby and what's best for us, we can come out ahead. Each day is a new challenge with decisions to make and joys to encompass. We face them all the best we know how.

And you know what? He's God's child anyway. 

If you're an experienced mom, or even if you don't have kids yet, can I encourage you to encourage those new moms out there who are doing the best they know how? Give them a smile, a squeeze, or a look that tells them, "You're doing just fine."

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  1. I used to feel the guilt too. My milk never came in so my oldest was on formula 100%. Everything I heard about how messed up he would be is totally wrong. He is one of the smartest of his friends and has never been sick besides a little cold here and there. And by never I mean in 3.5 years we have never been to the Dr. for a sick appointment. My friends that breast fed for a year have kids with ear infections every month. It just does not matter. Sometimes I think other moms say things and give those looks to make themselves feel better when we are all just trying to survive. All the guilt goes away with #2. You just don't care anymore :).

    1. Glad there is an end in sight with a future baby! ;) Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. I had a very smart client tell me "that when a woman births a baby, she also gives birth to 'mom guilt'." It is real and it is there, I believe, always. Mine is almost 20 and I still wonder about almost every decision we've made concerning her. She's beautiful, intelligent, and has a good head on her shoulders. She was bottle fed exclusively and she watched Barney (eek!) and has never had an ear infection. (Yet!) We homeschooled her in high school. Was it the right thing to do? I let her go across the US this past summer for 3 months. Was it the right thing to do? So much "mom guilt--what to feed them is just the start of it! Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...

    Scripture to lean on as a mom. You're doing great! I can tell! :)

    1. So true. Thank you for the scripture reminder!

  3. I am a first time mom, at age 41, to a beautiful almost 9 month old. I read your blog and feel all of the feelings you put so perfectly into words. I too did not nurse and my daughter is in full time daycare (where she thrives). We bring her to bed with us if she is having a bad night sleeping because she is more comfortable with us. I make mistakes, but I do the best I can for my family. I admire you for your courage to put all of this in print and out there for everyone to read. I believe that all women, not just mothers, should band together and lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. I'm not sure when the world changed to judge others instead of offering kind words and help, but I am not a fan of this new way of thinking. Everyone (adults, children and babies) is different, but that doesn't make any of us ugly, inept, incapable. We would all be better off to offer and receive support and encouragement. Why must we compete all the time?

  4. I feel like now more than ever new moms are pressured to be absolutely perfect. The babies need to be breastfed until they're toddlers, wearing organic cloth diapers and organic cotton onesies. And then when they start eating solids we're supposed to puree our own out of organic fruits and vegetables. It's gotten ridiculous.

  5. It's just "mom guilt" you're feeling because I know you are doing a wonderful job. You are a natural at this. At the end of each day, all that matters is that the baby is fed and safe. Daddies never feel that guilt....so it must be true that it is delivered with the baby. Love you!


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