Over the course of the past 10-months since I begot my daughter and took on the all-encompassing title of “parent,” I have done some pretty dumb stuff.
I threw my baby down the stairs, water boarded her and I fed her my hair.
Okay, these are exaggerations due to mommy-guilt. I fell down the stairs while holding her. She cried for about 2 seconds and I still cry about it. It happened 5 months ago. In the bath I accidentally dumped a whole cup of water right into her face. She cried. I cried. And with the hair…well, I shed like an Alaskan malamute. And no matter how much I vacuum, she finds the strands and tries to eat ‘em. Hey, it’s protein, right?
No matter how hard we try, there will be times that we are going to feel like bad parents. And we will cry about it.
Our little bundles of joy are going to get bumps and bruises. Accidents happen. In an attempt to catch them from falling, whose kid hasn’t smacked into our kneecap? Sometimes, we do things and look back and say, “uh-oh.” Like dancing in the kitchen to Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.”
So, let me (I know, I know…who the heck am I?) try to put all of our minds at ease. Chances are, we’re not REALLY bad parents.
FORMULA VS. BREAST MILK
Just because you feed your baby formula (whether voluntarily or due to medical circumstances), your child is not going to grow a third arm, be the only one in his graduating class not to own property on the moon, or live alone with 9 cats. And breastfeeding moms, your children will not automatically become Pulitzer or Nobel Prize winners just by drinking mom juice. Your child will not be handed an Olympic medal at the completion of your nursing, though you might feel you deserve one. Congratulations for powering through when no one really and truly warned you just how hard it would be to put one of the most sensitive areas of your body into a wet vac multiple times a day. No one mentioned the amount of tears (yours and theirs), which would be shed per feeding. But sorry, still no medal.
CLOTH VS. DISPOSABLE DIAPERS
Just because you don’t use cloth diapers, you are not single handedly destroying the environment. But we thank you, cloth diaper using parents, for doing your part because some of us just don’t have the patience to deal with non-disposable poop catchers.
STAY AT HOME VS. WORKING PARENT
Just because you’re a stay at home mom and you sometimes think, “I wish the Goblin King would come and take you away…right now,” doesn’t mean you really want David Bowie and his tighter than tight tights and Tina Turner hair to take possession of your child in his labyrinth. And if you’re working full time, and you stay at the office a little longer than you absolutely need to because you are enjoying a conversation that does not involve poop, feeding schedules or talking in a singsong voice, your mom card will not be revoked.
SLEEP TRAINING VS. NOT SLEEP TRAINING
Just because you let your child cry it out to sleep train him, it is not the parental equivalent of electric shock therapy. Infants have a short-term memory of 7 seconds. He’ll forgive you. And if you decide to let your children find their own sleep schedule, you are not crazy for choosing to be comforting over the comfort of a full night’s sleep.
SUPER SANITIZING VS. 5 SECOND RULE
Just because you don’t completely sterilize the pacifier every time if falls on the ground doesn’t mean you should be locked up for potentially passing foot and mouth disease to your child. And if you fully sanitize everything your child comes in contact with multiple times a day, this doesn’t mean you’re over parenting for not wanting your child to contract foot and mouth disease.
Just because you use or don’t use a pacifier, use or don’t use a humidifier, use or don’t use a bouncy ball, a play mat, a lovey, a trendy diaper bag, a swing, baby classes, all organic clothing, all organic baby food, or all homemade baby food, your child isn’t going to love you (or hate you when she’s a teenager) any less.
So, before you lambaste fellow parents for their choices… look inside and ask yourself… have you let your daughter dance around the house to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie?” Have you smashed your son’s head into the coffee table while roughhousing? Or have you been so tired that you gave your wee one a spoonful of YOUR chili instead of HER rice cereal?
I know we sometimes feel the need to judge others as a response or justification to a difficult decision we had to make ourselves. But as Nell Carter sang in the intro of her show of the same name, “Gimme a Break!” And do yourself a favor; give yourself a break. You’re a parent. Trust me, you’ve earned it.
You can read more from Jessica Glassberg here.