It never dawned on me that I wasn’t a good enough mother, until I started reading parenting books.
But as I become more weathered by this thing called parenting, I have learned to cut myself a little slack. I have learned to trust my gut and my instinct, and in turn live happier as a Mom.
I have discovered that each child brings a new set of firsts that need wrangling and understanding; each bringing a unique parenting challenge to the table. Thankfully as more kids have come along, I have learned to worry about doing it right less, and doing what I know is best, more.
My first baby couldn’t latch on to nurse properly. Turns out she was tongue-tied, and our pediatrician refused to do anything about it. For weeks she and I cried through every feeding. I hated nursing, and began to hate being my baby’s mother. Eventually I pumped and bottle fed her, and though there were far fewer tears and significantly less pain, I hated pumping too. Against expert advice, I eventually formula fed my baby, and as soon as I did, I loved her in a way I hadn’t before. As soon as I did, I wish I had listened to my mother and my gut sooner. She was happier and I was happier.
My second baby liked to wake in the middle of the night and behave like a belligerent drunk. He would stay awake for several hours at a time, often thrashing or crying. I do not remember half of 2005 and most of 2006 due to sleep deprivation. Against expert advice we began co-sleeping in order to survive. This bugger still likes to be in my room when he sleeps…but I’m pretty sure he’s not going to want me rooming with him in college. Instincts (and common sense) say it’s okay to let him ride out his nighttime issues on his own time.
With my third we thought we’d hit the baby jackpot. Until around 6 months when she decided to start screaming in restaurants. Blood curdling, mind bending screams. For fun. Except it was only fun for her. It was startling and deafening for the rest of us. I have never had so many nasty comments from strangers as I did in the three or four months she practiced her freedom of speech when out to eat. So I started drinking a lot when we’d go out to dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. Against expert advice of course.
Our fourth baby was pure joy for the first two weeks of his life. Then we discovered rather abruptly that he hates the car. He too possesses the ear piercing screaming gene. Yay for us. There is not much worse than needing to run three kids in multiple directions five, six or sometimes seven days a week with a shrieking newborn in the car. Even though he is now better at controlling his emotions, I still break into a cold sweat every time I buckle him into his car seat. Of course, against expert advice, around this time I rekindled my romance with speeding. And listening to the car radio a leeeetle too loudly. It was kinda like being in high school again. ‘Cept for that screaming newborn in the backseat.
With baby number one I was doing everything by the book, and my baby and I were pretty miserable. I thought my baby had to sleep in her own bed. And therefore no one slept. I thought my baby had to be breastfed. And therefore she was starving for the first four months of her life. I thought my baby had to learn to fall asleep on her own and self-soothe. And therefore I
drink drank a lot of wine at
bedtime. And she cried a lot of tears. And it sucked. And I swore I would never
put myself or one of my children through that hell again.
By baby number four, I refuse to read a parenting magazine or book. I figure thanks to my intuition I’ve got this good-enough parenting thing figured out. It helps that I now realize there’s no way I’ll ever get it all right, and frankly I’ve quit trying.
So the baby watches TV while I make dinner and the big kids do homework. Hell yes he does. He takes one for the team so I don’t stab someone with a fork or cry over my inability to understand third or fifth grade math. It also means I don’t have to wear him steam pressed to my saggy chest…again! And I’m a good-enough mother because of it.
So my preschooler spends time playing on my phone. Will she get kicked out of preschool? Will she feel neglected and unloved? Will she drop out of high school? I think not. When she is engrossed in a good game of Pocket Edition (read free!) Minecraft, I get a reprieve from her complete inability to sit-freaking-still. I don’t have to answer the same damn question five thousand, three hundred and six times. In five minutes. And I’m a more focused mother because of it.
Yeah, my baby watches TV. But I think he’ll be okay.