I swore I wouldn’t do these things as a Mother, yet did anyway.
“There is no way to be a perfect Mother, but a million ways to be a good one” -Unknown
When it comes to parenting, we’d all like to believe that we’re experts. Naively enough, we sometimes even think we know it all prior to actually becoming parents. I know I did. Surrounded by friends and family with small children, I was constantly observing, judging, and offering my two-cent opinions yet had zero credibility to do so. After all, I hadn’t had any kids of my own yet and didn’t quite understand. Regardless, I still felt the need to interject each time I noticed a parent doing something that I did not agree with. Boy do I know better than that now!
Even though these were things I swore I just wouldn’t do when I became a Mother, I realize now, why many of them can oftentimes be convenient and even necessary. See if you can relate!
1 – Let my child play with my cell phone.
Ok so, this one was probably my biggest pet peeve. Each time I saw small children playing with their parents cell phones, laptops and/or tablets, I got really upset. For one, I always felt that screen time interfered with a child’s imagination and hindered their brain and language development. In addition, I felt (and still do feel) that overuse of technology can contribute to laziness and weight gain resulting from limited mobility.
After becoming a Mother of a very active toddler, I understand now that at times, it can be extremely helpful to hand over my cell phone to my Son to watch shows like “Elmo’s World” while we wait at the doctor’s office or while we are having dinner at our favorite restaurant. As long as I can control the amount of time spent on the device, and know what he is using it for/watching, I don’t see it as a huge issue anymore. Silly me!
2 – Serve my Son jarred baby food.
I vividly remember cringing each time I saw a parent opening up a jar of baby food for their child. That dead food must be loaded with sugar and sodium, I thought to myself. I just didn’t quite understand how anyone in their right mind would buy that chemical laden junk when they could simply blend their own food and serve it fresh for their baby. Let’s just say that those thoughts would never cross my mind again.
Being the health freak most know me as, many people were surprised when I began buying jarred baby food for my Son. Even though I tried to puree everything myself most of the time, there were still those days where I enjoyed the convenience of having ready-made baby food on hand. The best thing about these was their prolonged shelf life. Sure, pre-jarred baby food isn’t always the freshest or healthiest, but as a working Mom, there were days when I just did not have the time (or energy) to whip up a fresh batch of baby food. I simply looked for brands that were organic and/or had as minimal ingredients as possible.
3 – Let my baby “cry it out” (self soothing).
OK, I’ll admit, I was on the fence about this one for the longest time. I had heard multiple conflicting opinions from both professionals and other parents about the pros and cons of allowing a child to cry themselves to sleep. I remember a relative of mine who would always let her 9-month old Son cry on the baby monitor while we were all watching television at her house pretending not to hear his helpless wails. For the love of God give that boy a bottle or something! I would think to myself. How heartless could she be?! I now understand that it was all done for a good reason and noticed that he would always go back to sleep when left alone to cry as he found his own way to comfort himself.
The first time I let Ivan do this, I was devastated. It was very hard to just leave him in his crib screaming his lungs out while I sat in the other room and listened. Eventually, my feelings on this changed as soon as I began seeing progress. When I knew he was fed, changed, and that nothing else was bothering him, I felt better about letting him cry it out. I noticed that after a while, he woke up less and would go to sleep quicker after waking up. That was a win!
4 – Use plastic baby bottles.
I hated seeing babies drinking out of plastic bottles and oftentimes asked friends why on earth they didn’t just invest in a good-quality glass bottle instead. Weren’t they afraid that harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A would leach into their precious baby’s milk? How could they be so darn careless, I thought. Well, turns out, after using glass bottles for 2-months, I absolutely HATED them. For one, they were bulky, heavy, and would overheat when placing them in the bottle warmer. Not to mention, I needed to be careful not to drop it- in fear of having it shatter all over the place. No bueno.
I made the switch to plastic bottles and never looked back. their light weight made it possible for my Son to hold his own bottle which in turn made my life a whole lot easier. Not to mention, I never had to worry about accidentally burning my Son with an over-heated glass bottle. It’s important to remember that as of 2012, the FDA has banned bisphenol A from all baby bottles and sippy cups. Overprotective Mamas rejoice!
5- Give my Son Formula.
Now I’d like to preface this with the fact that I did breastfeed for 4-months. However, I was not as lucky as others and was not producing enough for my Son. With that being said, I had no choice but to supplement with formula. Before being faced with the struggles of breastfeeding, I just never understood why Mom’s made the excuse not to breastfeed. Little did I know that not everyone produces the same amount of breast milk and that some Mother’s have no choice but to give their little ones formula…and there is NOTHING wrong with this.
I had tried everything to bring my supply up and although I’d say that for the first 4 months my Son got 85% breastmilk, I still had to eventually give him nothing but formula. After a while, I stopped beating myself up for it and just accepted that I needed to do whatever it took to keep my Son happy and healthy. I know now to never bash any Mom’s for using formula–we are all just trying to do our best!
6 – Give my child snacks to keep him occupied.
I saw this one A LOT. At church, family gatherings, doctor’s offices, malls, pretty much anywhere that a child needed to sit down and behave. Again, I just didn’t get it. Is this person seriously bribing her daughter with Goldfish crackers to just sit down and behave? what kind of parenting is this? I would think. Oh how times have changed.
Being the parent of a very active 15-month old who just wants to explore his world, I have to say that getting him to just sit still is a huge challenge. I find myself bringing snacks with me everywhere I go…Come to think of it, I think I have a few stray Cheerios at the bottom of purse I need to clean out. I try my best to give him healthy snacks such as fruit when I can, but realize that sometimes, it’s just more practical to pack things like crackers and cereal. Remember, moderation is ALWAYS key!
Moral of this story is do not judge others until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
At the end of the day, we are all trying to do the best we can and the last thing we need (or want) is to be judged by others for not doing things the “right” way (is there even such a thing?). So, the next time you encounter a screaming toddler in a restaurant while you’re enjoying your meal in peace, try your best to sympathize with the parents, and refrain from offering your two-cents..especially if you have zero credibility like I did. I sure know better now!
To all the Mama’s out there, keep up the good work, you’re doing GREAT! xoxo