As I nursed my baby to bed tonight, with her first birthday just a few days away, I thought a lot about life. To first finding out I was going to be a mother, to finding out I was going to be a mother to a little girl, to thinking how terrified I was to give birth, to understanding the true definition of unconditional love, to looking at this little person and realizing I loved her so much that it actually hurts sometimes.
I also thought about how I’ve done so many things ‘wrong’ in this first year of her life. So many things you read that you aren’t supposed to do. So many things your friends say they’ve done all this research on. Things your parents say you should or shouldn’t do. Things your doctors tell you not to do. Things science tells you not to do. So many things people judge for. Let me just name a few of those ‘wrong’ things.
I drank coffee throughout my pregnancy. My whole pregnancy. And then during breastfeeding. Sometimes multiple cups a day. Still do.
I also ate like crap the majority of my pregnancy.
When I was pregnant, I took a hot bath, every.single.night.
I had my baby in a hospital after being induced and getting an epidural.
I am totally guilty of overstimulating her and keeping her up past her bedtime some nights.
I let her use a jumper for months. Many months. Sometimes more than 30 minutes at a time while I pumped.
She used a walker when she went over to my parents’ house.
I initially went back to work after maternity leave, so I put her in daycare for 8 hours a day. And not just any daycare. A daycare center. GASP.
I have accidentally hit her head on the car door while putting her in her car seat more times than I can count.
I drank wine and then nursed on more than one occasion.
I have woken a sleeping baby.
I let her cry it out. Both naps and bedtime. But she naps now and we both sleep at night.
We started baby led weaning at 7 months old because spoon feeding her was for the birds.
I sleep trained her. Gasp.
She has used a pacifier since the very beginning.
She was bottle fed while I exclusively pumped for the first two months of her life. Maybe longer.
I am guilty of looking at my phone too often when I am around her.
I make Cary do all the hard stuff like clip her nails and saline her nose because I don’t want to be seen as the mean parent.
Our dog has given her one too many kisses. On the mouth.
I cuss in front of her. Way more than I’d like. We are working on that.
I let her watch TV.
I don’t always feed her organic foods.
I also proudly vaccinate her.
I have and continue to do a lot of these things that I know so many people will judge me for. Because that’s what people do. They judge. But a year in and I am so proud of the mother I have become and the sweet girl I am raising. She is loving, happy, so chill and has met every milestone thus far. Every single day she has her own way of telling me what is working and what isn’t. A lot of things work for us and a lot of things don’t. Isn’t that what this motherhood journey is all about? Learning and growing alongside your tiny humans?
The real honest truth is I don’t care who judges my mothering choices because it isn’t about them. It isn’t even really about me. It’s about her and what works for her. God gave me this precious little human to mother and I am the only person who can do that. Because of that, I trust my instincts and don’t take this whole mothering thing too seriously.
I believe you should always mother the way you want to mother. Mother the way that feels right and natural to you. If 20 minutes of TV gives you a sanity break, do it. If an all organic diet feels right, do it. If you want to be a SAHM, WAHM, or a working mom and put your kid in daycare, do it. Never let anyone make you feel like you are less than. Don’t let mom guilt bring you down and definitely don’t let mom wars or know it all moms make you feel like you are less than the best mother your child could ever have.
At the end of the day, none of us are perfect mothers. None of us have all the answers but we certainly have the best answers for our lives and our own children. So always mother your way.