As a SAHM with two children younger than one and a half, I have spent countless hours feeling guilty about things that I refuse to worry about anymore. When I first made the decision to stay home with my son, I felt guilty about staying home. I felt bad that all of the sudden all the financial responsibility was placed on my husband, sad to leave my students and co-workers that I had just gotten to know so well, and unable to relate to many of my friends, who didn’t have children and were still working. Fast forward about a year and two babies, there are many things I have learned as a mom, and one is the ability to let go. Because I take my full time job of being a mom very seriously, I often beat myself up over things that I either cannot control, or that I know will not make a difference in my children’s lives when they are grown up. To be a better mom to my babies, I need to let go of the guilt and give myself a break! Here are 5 things that I refuse to feel guilty about anymore (and you should too):
1. Having a C-Section
When I was pregnant with my son, I felt like I was the epitome of the “perfect pregnant woman.” I spent countless hours reading books such as Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, learning about breastfeeding and attending childbirth classes, doing prenatal yoga, preparing myself both mentally and physically for the birth of my son, and drafting my birthplan, that included, surprise, surprise, a natural birth! As I think about the obsession that I had with all of the above, I can only laugh. If you haven’t gone through childbirth yet, let me just tell you that most of your “plan” will be thrown out the window. As for mine, I never accounted for maternal fever, laboring for over 24 hours, an abnormal heart rate, and a 9.3 lb baby who wasn’t able to fit through my pelvis; and in the moment, I found myself begging the doctors for drugs and eventually, a c-section. In this situation, it was absolutely necessary and it saved my life and my son’s.
When I was given the choice of a repeat c-section or VBAC when I was pregnant for my daughter, I felt guilty for months for wanting to have another c-section. We went through SO much with my son’s health in his first month, it was about a year after giving birth for him so I was at a higher risk for uterine rupture with a VBAC, and everything about a scheduled birth sounded ideal to me. Still. I. Felt. Guilt. Heartwrenching guilt for about 6 months while being pregnant. Why?! Why do I always feel guilty?! Well, guess what? I chose a repeat c-section and it was one of the best decisions of my life. My husband and I arrived at the hospital on the day of our appointment with a well-packed hospital bag, food in my belly, and well rested. Within a few stress-free hours, I witnessed a perfect angel emerging from myself, and I got to meet my baby girl about 10 minutes after she was delivered. I had a seamless hospital stay, felt great after, and was fully recovered in just a few weeks after delivery.
I realize that there are many women out there who have had beautiful natural births, whose birthplans carried out flawlessly, and who had successful VBACs. This was just not my experience; but now I finally am able to realize that it doesn’t matter how a baby enters the world, only that they are healthy, happy, and loved. My babies are definitely all of those 🙂
2. Feeding My Toddler What He Wants to Eat
Sometime in the past 6 months, my son decided that he no longer liked vegetables or meat. No matter how many hours I spent slaving over my nutribullet making homemade baby purees, filling our kitchen with only the most organic foods, and sharing stress-free meal times with him every day, he turned out to be a picky eater. Yeah, yeah, yeah, people tell me that all toddlers are picky, but I know many who still eat vegetables in some form! I was quickly devastated when my son spit out the sweet potatoes he once loved, the grilled chicken he once couldn’t get enough of, and even threw my zucchini muffins on the floor!
I used to feel like it was my fault somehow, even though I know I did everything in my best ability to make him a healthy eater. Months later, I realize that it has nothing to do with me; he is a very independent person already, knows what he wants, and is extremely stubborn. The more we push him, the less likely he is to do what we say! And as a teacher and a mom, I totally get this. That’s why we let him eat what he wants, always offer him vegetables, meat, and what we’re eating, and always provide healthy and mostly organic foods to him. So what if his favorite meal (I mean absolute favorite) is a frozen quesadilla?! At least it has hidden veggies! If you haven’t heard of KidFresh frozen meals, you should check them out. They are amazing, all natural, and kids love them. Meal times are no longer a struggle, and although I still have hope that he will turn his eating habits around, I am no longer stressing or feeling guilty about it.
3. Letting My Kids Watch TV
When I was pregnant with James, I vowed that I wouldn’t let the TV become my personal babysitter, and my kids would never watch TV until age 2. For about the first year of James’ life, I realized that was unrealistic and he watched a few hours each week and quickly began his love affair with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. When Ella was born, all of those TV plans flew, and I mean flew, out the window! After the help went away, I was alone with two of them, trying to be successful breastfeeding and pumping, trying to recover from surgery, and trying just to make it through each day. Guess what? The TV was my savior. Granted, I still only let my kids watch PBS and an occasional Netflix show, but I don’t feel the same way about it as I used to. I feel that James learns a lot from shows such as Super Why! and Sesame Street, and there is actual research to prove that these PBS shows, while watched interactively with parents, prepares kids for school and teaches many life lessons. I love watching James sing along to his favorite shows, say hello to his “friends” each day, and actually learn letters from Wyatt. We still only watch about an hour or two each day, but I am definitely not afraid to turn on the TV while I’m feeding Ella or even at the end of a long day. This is something we enjoy as a family, and as long as you do it right, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, in my opinion.
4. Posting Adorable, Set-Up Photos on Social Media 😉
This one makes me smile. There has been SO much controversy lately about what people post on social media, how and when they post it, and what it looks like, especially when it comes to their families. Let’s be honest- as moms, don’t you love scrolling through your feed to see one of your friends’ adorable babies? Or reading to see how someone you went to high school with handles discipline with their children? No matter what you say, we can’t help but want to see what other people’s lives are like, because we are constantly comparing ours to theirs. I’m not going to lie, I am proud of my family and what I have accomplished in the last few years of my life.
As a SAHM, I enjoy changing my kids into different outfits and taking their pictures, because we sometimes don’t get a chance to show off these outfits in public, and they are just so stinking cute. When I get a cute photo opp, and let’s not even talk about matching outfits, I post it so others can see! I love my babies, and no matter how cute I think they are, I want everyone to know how much I love them. I know some people think it’s ridiculous to post a photo that’s set-up because it doesn’t display “real life” but I don’t feel guilty AT ALL! My kids had so much fun taking the photo I included above, and James would love to sit with and cuddle his sister all day long if I let him. So what if I dressed them the same and put them in front of the tree? I know my real friends understand what goes on most days. Like today, when James is still in his pjs with peanut butter on his face at noon, and there is a pile of laundry I don’t feel like folding upstairs. Every day is not perfect, but it shouldn’t be. Do you really think people would like to see the dirty dishes in my sink or my son throwing a tantrum when he doesn’t want me to change his diaper? Me either… 🙂
5. Creating “Bad Sleep Habits”
As many of the things mentioned above, I have spent way too much time and energy feeling guilty about how my kids sometimes sleep. If James falls asleep in the car, I used to blame myself for him not napping later because I shouldn’t have brought him out so close to naptime. If I relied on the swing to get Ella to sleep one day at naptime, I used to blame myself for “creating a bad sleep habit” that will be hard to break later. Let’s not even mention my love-hate relationship with pacifiers…
Now that I am a little more experienced and have a few months under my belt with two babies, I refuse to feel guilty about any sleep habit I may be forming, because I know that someday neither one of my kids will need me anymore to help them sleep, and I choose to cherish this time I have with them while they’re still little.
Recently James has been hitting the 18 month regression a bit early and refusing to fall asleep on his own at bedtime. In my opinion, he doesn’t want to miss out and leave the party! I have found myself holding him for a few minutes in his room while he lays with his head on my shoulder before he gets put down, and it’s become a really special time for us. These days he doesn’t want to be held much, and I love these cuddles we have before bedtime. I never want him to fall asleep upset, so although we have done sleep training, right now I want to hold him while he starts to fall asleep; and I don’t feel bad about that at all.
Luckily, our second child is a better sleeper, and unfortunately I don’t have time in my day to hold her while she naps so most of the time, she falls asleep on her own, which she seems to prefer! I actually miss having to rock a baby to sleep sometimes. Go figure. My point is, we can beat ourselves up all day for “creating bad habits” whether they have to do with sleep or not, but at the end of the day we know what’s best for our kids, and a mother’s instinct is always right.
Some days I feel like Super Mom, and other days I feel like I am just getting by. No matter how I feel at the moment, I know my kids love me and I know that they feel loved. That’s ALL that matters. So let go of the guilt, enjoy your babies while they’re small, and enjoy a nice glass of wine if you get a chance too 😉 !
Have a wonderful holiday weekend!