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