This morning, the crazies emerged again.
Picture: Me sobbing to the point where my husband (sweet man that he is) cut his morning routine short in order to console me. He asks what’s wrong, and through sniffles I answer (as if it’s obvious), “I’m ruining our family!” And in that moment, I really believed it.
This particular set of crazies were spawned on by one of those condescending articles that people post on Facebook in order to “educate” Facebook world, particularly moms. You know what I’m talking about:
“You’re ruining your children by not doing enough interacting play with them!”
“You’re ruining your child by doing too much interactive play with them!”
“You’re ruining your children by letting them watch even 3 seconds of TV!”
“You’re ruining your child by swaddling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by not breastfeeding them!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to daycare!”
“You’re ruining your child by sleep training!”
“You’re ruining your child by attachment parenting!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to public school!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to private school!”
“You’re ruining your child by homeschooling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by letting them see you on an iPhone!”
“You’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic food!”
Mom guilt is such a real and nasty thing. A friend of mine who is about a year and a half into parenting recently admitted that she didn’t understand the whole “mom guilt” thing until she became one. She was surprised by how quickly it snuck up on her.
It’s one thing to be convicted of something you might need to do differently, I mean we could all use some growth and changing in many areas of our lives. But mom guilt is a taunting voice that follows you around, telling you that you are never enough and are never doing enough. It tempts you to believe something wrong about your identity.
Food has always been the one that gets me. I don’t really know why, but my largest area of insecurity in motherhood has always been how I feed my child. From nursing to baby food to solids, I’ve always questioned myself, feeling hard pressed by so many differing opinions.
When Riley was an infant (and once when she was a toddler), there were a couple of months when she dropped weight percentiles and the doctor was concerned about it. I was put on a strict mission to “fatten her up, whatever it takes!” I felt like it was my fault. I must have been accidentally starving my baby! I would get really emotional about it. So I fed my picky eater cheeseburgers and milkshakes, whatever I could do to bring her weight up. And then I would feel guilty for feeding her those foods. So I would try the healthier route, and she wouldn’t eat. So then I would feel like a failure.
I remember being surprised by my own answer when asked what the most surprising difficult thing about motherhood has been. “Feeding her/meal planning.” I would have never expected that.
Thankfully, Riley loves and eats a lot of healthy food now: avocados, blueberries, raspberries, apples, grapes, bananas, peas, greenbeens, greek yogurt, chicken, eggs, almond milk, and smoothies. But just when I start to feel encouraged by that, BAM! I’m whacked over the head with the “you’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic!”
Now don’t get me wrong, I get it. I understand that our government allows a lot of things to be done to food in America that is not good for us. I know that there are chemicals and pesticides and that processed food can be harmful. I’ve watched Food Inc. I’ve read 2998203982 articles. I’ve done the research. I realize that a grass-fed, cage free, hormone free, organic, local, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet is probably the healthiest way to eat. I even tried it for a little while! The problem is, it costs an arm and a leg (and perhaps even a nose). And we don’t have an arm, leg, and a nose to give right now.
I constantly feel this tension between wanting to feed my family well and wanting to be frugal and honor our budget well.
“You’re not enough.” “You’re not doing enough.” “You’re ruining your child,” the mom guilt taunts.
Speaking of mean, know what else is mean? Posting these condescending articles on social media. For the love, can we mamas please stop doing this to each other? If there is something you have learned that you care a lot about and are worried for friends or family of yours, will you just send them the link, individually? Will you just have a conversation with them about it?
I am thankful that I do have friends who care about eating organically and healthy who have approached it in such a loving way. I have one friend who has exchanged articles back and forth with me but has never once offended me with the way she talks about it. She even started researching with me on how to eat well on a budget. That is loving. Or another friend who opened up in such a kind manner when I asked her about it and never treated me like I am inferior.
Why do we feel the need to publicly “educate” social media world on something with our finger pointed at everyone else?
On that note, if you see a mom that you care about today, give her a hug and tell her, “good job! Motherhood is tough, and you’re doing your best. Rock it!”
And be comforted that we all get the crazies from time to time ;-).