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.
Well, I just don’t think it is, not for me, and that’s my prerogative, right? I don’t want to clean that shit up. Smeared food every which way and not being able to gauge how much actually went into baby? I just want to feed my son with a spoon and get on with life. He’s not going to go to kindergarten unable to feed himself. This doesn’t need to be that big of a deal. It’s a choice like any other that ultimately doesn’t make or break a child’s success in the world. But you can’t say that to people pushing their beliefs on you. It gets uncomfortable. I don’t care how they feed their baby. Why do they care how I feed mine?
Baby carrying, oh my god… okay, I’m not going to do that. I get it’s working for you and brings you closeness and it’s natural and so easy (for you)! But when I wear my baby, he comes up to my nose. He’s long and I’m not, especially not my torso. I can’t see immediately in front of me, and now it’s winter. There’s ice I don’t want to slip on. Also, he’s heavy and it hurts my back (And yes, I’m doing it correctly and have tried multiple carriers). Plus he sleeps in a stroller, but not in my arms. I need to leave with something that enables naps. I’m not carrying my baby, stop telling me how great it is and that I should try it! I have. It’s not worth it (for me)! It will not promote bonding, it will promote me hating leaving the house.
Again, I’m incredibly pleased for you that it’s given you so much joy. You can get things done and still hold your baby. Totally understand why you do it and I’m happy it’s increasing your quality of life, but it would seriously ruin mine. Please believe me, I’m not saying it’s bad to baby carry if I don’t want to do it too. We don’t have to do the same things.
I also sleep trained my son. Did Ferber, the whole check in every three, five, 10 minutes till sleep happens. Took 45 minutes night one, 20 minutes night two, five minutes night three, and then sweet bliss thereafter. Of course this massively damaged him, though, and he’ll never get over it. I’m very selfish.
My baby is formula fed. Now, I’d planned on breastfeeding, but after my C section I had delayed milk and post-surgical complications and my supply tanked and never recovered. I did my best for a few months and then quit. Best thing for me. And I’ve had smiling people drop their grins when they ask if I breastfeed and I say no. I’ve seen moms side-eye me with a furrowed brow as I mix a bottle. And then the internet’s opinions, screw them all.
And I’ve grown to love formula feeding. Didn’t think I would, but here we are. And it’s just one more thing I’m doing the “unnatural way”.
I do cloth diaper, though. And I actually am in love with it (it’s cheaper, easy when you buy the new-fangled ones and holds in the poop every time). But here’s the thing: I have grown so disenchanted with so many natural parenting believers that I advocate it to absolutely nobody. I make sure to acknowledge it’s not for every family and only discuss it with people who do it too, to talk shop. I support disposable diapering. Poo and pee management is a necessary gross evil. Do what you got to do. Except go diaper free in urban zones, holding your baby over trash cans when nature calls (People actually do this. It’s more natural!) Sorry, that’s crazy.
So, I cage my baby, ignore his cries at night, feed him poison and preservatives, and push him away from me rather than hold him close. Also, I don’t co-sleep. Didn’t like it. My baby is lonely in his room, tucked away in a prison-like sleeping chamber.
In other words, I’m a mom from the ’80s. Except I don’t wear mom jeans. I know there must be others out there, slacking away on the job. Haven’t met them yet, but maybe some day. Till then, I’ll just try to feel like a good mom based on my own convictions, such as they are, and wait till my boy can say “I love you” to give me validation that I’m doing okay.
But he uses a soother, so who knows if he’ll ever talk.