Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Guilt List

I got into my first internet fight. Actually, it wasn't so much a fight as me shooting back at a comment on a blog post in a very direct way. I wasn't mean or anything, the post just struck a nerve. The blog post was about the daycare this couple has found for their child, who is due this summer. The blogger is pretty popular, and one of the comments was very derogatory, criticizing her choice of daycare, saying it was too expensive, and questioning the blogger's decision of giving so much of her paycheck to a daycare in order to "pay someone to raise your child for you" and "just stay in the rat race." Now, you go after a fellow working outside of the home mom (to-be) and I will come out swinging in their defense. Why make someone feel guilty for a choice that affects nobody but a person and their family? Maybe it's a mutual self-conscious, vulnerable thing, but seriously. Personal choices are personal. Enough said.

That, paired with another recent blog post I read on the Mommy Wars (the very competitive, weird, petty conflicts between parents on things like sleep training, breastfeeding, cosleeping, you name it) and the resulting guilt these conflicts create. Something about pregnancy and parenting brings out this weird, outspoken, competitive, critical side in people, and it seems that EVERYTHING is up for critique.

So without further ado, my guilt list: the things I have someone has told me are wrong--either to my face or in book/blog/website form. I was going to explain the choices below, but I have decided not to. Consider this me, releasing the guilt.

*We let Lydia cry herself to sleep at 4.5 months.

*We gave her rice cereal at 4 months, two months before we were supposed to.

*We gave her cow's milk at 11 months, one month before we were supposed to.

*She still uses a pacifier during the day for naps and when she is crabby.

*She is in daycare, and I work full-time. This summer, she will stay in daycare two days a week, even when I am on summer vacation.

*I tell people we make all of Lydia's food. Secretly, we keep a stash of store-bought food for outings or when we are in a pinch.

*Her crib had a bumper until she used it to try to pull herself up to sitting. (This was another subject of criticism on the blog where the woman was criticized for sending her child to daycare.)

*She moved into said crib at two weeks, thus moving out of her bedroom.

*We never considered co-sleeping.

*We never considered cloth diapers.

*I love putting Lydia in frilly, girly clothes, even though my Women's Studies degree screams at me every time I do.

And there it is. Judge away, internets.

Addendum: I remembered three big ones:

*I chose to give birth without pain medication. I wasn't so much criticized as told I was crazy.

*We chose to find out Lydia's sex before she was born.

*I weaned Lydia from breastmilk before she wanted to be weaned.

And there you have it.  Again.


  1. Oh my god, thank you for admitting these things. Because I think you are still a great mom. :)

    I breastfed for less than a month. I hated it, I was miserable, and I had every latch/supply/infection problem in the book, so I gave up. I'm still sad about it, but I know it was what I had to do at the time.

    I also went back to work full-time when my son was 10 weeks. I had virtually no other choice; I make more money than my husband and our benefits are through me.

    You would not believe how many people -- both people I know and people I don't -- have blatantly criticized me for these two things. And instead of brushing it off, I cry myself to sleep about it. It's like I feel fine about my own choices until someone else doesn't. The mommy wars are so complicated.

  2. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with anyone looking down on me about my methods of mothering. I guess almost everyone I know thinks because I have so much experience in "parenting" that I know what I am doing. To be honest, I am flying by the seat of my pants most of the time.

    I do beat myself up for not reaching my goal of 1 year of nursing. I dried up at 10 months so there wasn't that option. I rave about cloth diapering and yet wish I could say I was a cloth diapering mom. I very rarely get Eli in his all-in-ones that I made with my loving hands. I need a bigger stash, have the supplies to make them, and yet no time to get them done. I love subbing when I can and don't get really lonesome because someone else is watching my child for the day. I think it is good for his social development and independence to learn to go to other places for care. We too let our child cry to sleep at 3 months and two days later he actually slept in his bed without a fight. Now, he goes right to bed and nap without a peep. I let him watch Veggie Tales on occasion, gasp!

    I'm not perfect and I don't think any mother can say she is:)

  3. In retrospect, the self-judgement hurts the most. A reminder to all of us to let it go. Are they growing? Check. Do they smile and laugh? Check. Learn new things? Awesome.

    Job well done.

  4. Hey lady - that Lydia girl of yours is pretty amazing, full stop. So, I think that your guilt list needs to be tossed right out of the window. You and Robin are both amazing parents who clearly give your all to your daughter. I just don't think you can ask for anything more than that.

    But I do have to say, after that little pep talk there, that with Aidan going through all the ear/tubes shit, I kept thinking over and over that I should have kept breastfeeding and that this was all my fault for forcing that to end. Even if the logical side of me realizes that his tubes grew in such a way as to not drain fluid properly, I can't shake the guilt of it all. But I do partially blame Kellymom for this guilt.

  5. Dude. WHATEVER. Yours and Robin's baby girl is precious, she seems to be growing amazingly well, and I know she has brilliant parents who make the most educated, well-informed choices they possibly can. I don't have children of my own, so clearly take what I say however you want to. As someone who's provided personal, individual, in-home child care (read: nanny) for over 11 years, I've seen a variety of parental choices. There is no right or wrong, there is only difference. Don't judge, just love- that's my motto.

  6. I know I'm late to comment on this... but thank you :) Both for the supportive comments and calling me "popular". Honestly, I really, really appreciate the backup on the important stuff.

    You're an amazing mom.

  7. I very much appreciate your candor in this post, but I think you are selling yourself short on your amazing parenting instincts and knowledge.

    When I read my friend Leah's post about the Mommy Wars, my knee-jerk reaction was to begin spewing out the things I haven't done "by the book"--to validate her choices and demonstrate that everyone has to find their own way. After deliberating, I decided not to. I decided that I will not apologize for any of my choices, even in good humor. I'm an excellent mother, Andy is an excellent father, and Drew is blossoming into an intelligent, well-meaning child.

    In a way, I believe that by apologizing for my choices, I would be validating the critics' points of view. And that simply won't fly with me.

    Deep down inside, do you REALLY feel guilty? If you do, I encourage you to do everything in your power to release those feelings, because they are unwarranted and toxic. Lydia is infinitely blessed to have you for a mother. And Robin is blessed to have you for a wife. And your parents have an incredible daughter. And your students have a dedicated, talented teacher. The list goes on and on, my friend.