Maybe it takes a certain amount of confidence, or maybe it takes a little bit of validation from your peers. Losing the parenting guilt takes time. For me, I was SO over trying to justify everything I did for my baby.
A Quick Story
Baby R recently had a wonderful play date with her friend, roaming around outside, playing with leaves and sticks, laughing at a yard gnome (She’s a baby, after all). I took a few pictures of their time together and was excited to show some relatives how adorable they are together.
I sent a picture of them eating together at a baby table. (Two 9 month olds at a table?! So cute.) Two minutes later, I receive a text that says, “Put some clothes on that child!”
I immediately responded with, “I had just changed her diaper…..”
But, I hadn’t. Why did it matter if she was wearing clothes? We had just come in from playing outside. She was wearing her diaper in the middle of the day in the hot June sun. Besides, she was eating! She didn’t have to wear clothes, damnit.
Another Quick Story
While on the play date mentioned above, the mom and I prepared our kids’ lunches. Baby R and I are plant-based, and I usually have her food chopped and ready to eat before we get there.
When we sat down at the adorable table (as mentioned above), the mom said, “I haven’t had time to fix him anything healthy. I’ve been so busy with babysitting and everything else.”
I immediately thought to myself, feed your kid what is quick and convenient to you. I heard myself say, “You don’t have to justify anything to me.”
Busy or not, if she wants to feed her kid nuggets or frozen veggie burgers or cheese tortellini, then why would I have a problem with that? It’s her kid!
It was in that moment that I realized I was justifying everything I did to raise my baby. And apparently my mom friend was, too.
I had been justifying every aspect of every day – every nap time, every trip, every time we stayed home, every meal, every nursing session, every outfit, every diaper change. I started doing this the moment I was pregnant and was still doing it 9 months postpartum.
Why? Why did I feel so guilty or inadequate about how I was raising my family? Why did I feel that I needed to explain everything I was doing for my family? Who was I trying to impress?
Then, one day I had an epiphany.
It was time to lose the parenting guilt.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – my neighbor, my cousin, my best friend, my mom. It doesn’t matter.
I’m raising my daughter the best way I know how – the way that is most natural and comfortable to me.
I feed her this because I want to.
I let her sleep like this because I want to.
I dress her like this because I want to.
I nurse her whenever, wherever, for however long because I want to.
I think we’ve all been there. Advice comes pouring in from others the moment we announce our pregnancy, and it continues through weeks, months, and years of raising a child. We listen politely, absorbing some of the information, and go about our day.
Women of all ages are eager to share their advice because they are excited for us and want to relive those precious years.
But the fact of the matter is, ideas change from generation to generation. What worked best for our moms and their moms probably isn’t what is best for us. We live further away than past generations and we have different ideas about how we want to raise our families. Diets, lifestyles, theories, and methods are different. And that’s okay.
I’ve been told what to do my entire life. I’ve been directed about everything – where to go to school, what not to major in, what to wear and what not to wear, etc. And now how to raise my kid. A lot of times, I’ve done what was directed to avoid confrontation with my closest family members.
I instinctively know what is best for me and my family. No more justifying. No more explaining. Just being a mom in the most natural way I know how.
If you are experiencing these same feelings, this same pressure, I hope that you find the light and the courage to be you – to be openly, honestly, unconditionally 100% raw, beautiful, perfect you. And do it without hesitation.
Are you struggling with parenting guilt? How have you overcome it? Tell me in the comments below.