I don’t treat motherhood like a job and I’m not terribly invested in doing everything just right. If I never spent time with other moms or went on the internet, this would probably make me feel totally fine almost always. The natural parenting movement specifically, though, is exactly the sort of thing that makes a mom like me feel way out to sea and judged by other moms.
For example, I use a play pen. It’s great. My eight-month-old son can play independently in there for a good 40 minutes while I check what’s going on in the world on my laptop with my morning coffee. He’ll look up at me and smile and I’ll smile back. Or he’ll make little noises at me and we’ll play back and forth sounds for awhile before he goes back to what he was doing and so do I.
But a play pen is a cage, right? Stifles creativity? That seems to be a thing now, something people believe. I’m not sure when this happened. Online people will say you’re being lazy. In person, you mention a play pen and there is a blank look or a sidestep in the conversation, the sort normally used to avoid uncomfortable conversations. See also exersaucers, otherwise known as Wheels Of Neglect. It really sounds like people are giving their babies and toddlers free access to entire rooms all the time and following them around to keep them and their stuff safe. This makes me feel tired.
I don’t make my own baby food. I’ve tried a little and my son prefers smooth purees still, after a late bloom into solids. Homemade is always a little lumpier. But moms I meet with go on about baby food recipes, and solids seminars put down commercial foods. One lady in charge even said the jars contain preservatives (They don’t. Vacuum sealing is a non-chemical preservation method) and I watched other moms shake their heads; no, they wouldn’t give their babies that. Well, I am. I was feeling pretty chuffed my baby was finally eating, but after one seminar I went home feeling deflated.
And the baby-led weaning people. Jesus. Okay, I fully support anyone doing whatever to put the calories and nutrients into their baby’s belly. If that’s your thing, do it, love it, and rock on. Take pictures, feel awesome about it and glow with pride and your baby explores food. But they all (Every one that I’ve met) want you to do it too. It’s the best. It’s just better. It’s worth the mess.