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Friday, May 11, 2012

Musing of an imperfect mama

To breasfeed or not, to co-sleep or not, to potty-train at 2 or not. Guilt and uncertainty are the two heaviest parenting burdens. "Am I doing it right? I cannot possibly screw this up, I have to be PERFECT!!!!" These thoughts constantly went through my head the first year of being a mama. It felt like a tremendous weight on my shoulders - the constant guilt and second guessing, beating myself up for a smallest misstep. I did not breastfeed for very long - I just couldn't. Between postpartum depression, full-time work, selling our house, and shock of caring for two babies at once I just wasn't able to focus and do it. We "formula-ed" the girls, and it took a lot of stress off.

I do wish I breastfed them more. I think breastfeeding is such an awesome, wonderful bonding time and it's really amazing that a human body can do that. All new moms are superheroes: able to give life and nourish it. It needs to be celebrated!

This cover and articles about it have been all over the news, generating buzz and criticism of the "crazy" attachment parenting. Who cares? It's that mom's choice, and it's fine. The boy will be just fine. Honestly, how breastfeeding your child for a long (ok, really long-long-long time) is worse than feeding him McDonald's for dinner? Or leaving him in front of television for hours? Or taking him to a tanning salon?

Americans are uptight, really uptight, if this picture is able to generate negative/critical response. It is a challenge to social norms, and I'm sure TIME chose it for the shock value: picking a young, blonde, very attractive mother, airbrushing and somewhat sexualizing her (gee, I wonder why they didn't go with a 200 lb older woman!) and slapping the photo on the interwebs.

I don't care what the parenting approach is. Attachment parenting is great, if you are a stay-at-home mama of one baby. It didn't work for me. I vacillated somewhere in the middle: sleep trained a little bit, cuddled a little bit, co-slept a little bit and breastfed a little bit. I am not perfect (slightly damaged too): I yell at the girls sometimes, I micromanage them sometimes, I won't let them drink water out of the hose in the yard (uhm, Husband!), but I do let them pee outside in the grass if pressed to find a bathroom. My imperfections are good for them, pushing them to grow and develop independently from me. Imperfect is fine, as long as our kids know they are loved and allowed to be imperfect in their own way in return.