In the roughly 485 days I have been a mom I have rarely been visited by the specter known as “mom guilt”. I have been what I am sure would be considered annoyingly calm in my certainty that I am doing the right thing for my daughter at any given time. I have been so certain that I am making the right choices I have only been able to fein understanding when mom’s in person or online complain of being racked with mom guilt, until last week. Last week her nanny wrote to me something to the effect of the baby doesn’t like the food you make her. I have been heartbroken ever since.
Because many of the things that I thought would trigger mom guilt didn’t: putting her down for sleep awake and sometimes crying, giving her a paci, weaning from the breast at 6 months, returning to work full time. This seems is all fodder for mom guilt. None of these steps were easy, but they were right for us and I think right for her. Not to say that I haven’t had pangs of guilt and questioning, but for the most part I made these choices and didn’t look back. In short while all of these events gave me pause I was not haunted by “mom guilt”.
Mom guilt I have found is a different beast entirely. My guilt is not a momentary questioning, this is knowledge that I am doing the wrong thing. The worst part is that I have sensed this for a while, but it wasn’t till I got the email that I was willing to look at and acknowledge that I am not living up to my expectation of what I should provide for my child. She deserves a mom who is a good cook and has enough energy to do the shopping, the cooking and the cleaning. Boyfriend stays out of this arena entirely, probably to the baby’s, though not to my advantage.
“Mom guilt” as I understand it is not about not actually doing right by the baby, but it is the gap between what I expect I should be like as a mom and what I am like. Triggers are different for every mom. I am in fact not a good cook. I make decent food most of the time, but I am not very skilled, driven, nor imaginative in the kitchen. I think I used to be more of all three, but I used it up in my twenties long before I had a child. I like to think that if I weren’t working full time I would do more in the kitchen, but I think for the most part that is just wishful thinking. Closer to the truth is that I might in fact do a bit more in the kitchen, but I will never be a Martha Stewart mom. The guilt comes because I think I should be different.
The reason I have managed to avoid the wrath of mom guilt thus far is that the internets are full of mom’s relaying guilty feelings for things I don’t happen to feel guilty about. I never expected to rock my child to sleep for 465 days several times a day, and I expected she would cry when I left her alone. To me this seemed a reasonable response. I didn’t expect to share my body past the point of what is comfortable and I didn’t expect formula to ruin her. I did however read Bringing Up Bebe and want baby to have an appreciation for a diverse palet. Thus far I am coming up way short.
Anyone have practical ideas about how to provide her with food she likes and/or how to shed the mom guilt?