I was just reading an article someone emailed me about being a "good" vs "bad" mother. The authors basic point was that different does not equal bad. By her definition the only bad mothers are those who neglect, abuse, and abandon their children. Formula feeding moms are not bad moms. Co-sleeping moms are not bad moms. Vegan moms are not bad moms. Junk food moms are not bad moms.
When I was a new mom, I actually had a friendship fall apart over this. Perception is a powerful thing. My friend was a breastfeeding, make your own baby food, co-sleep, baby wearing mom. I was the exact opposite. I bottle fed, happily supported the folks at Gerber, stuck my baby in her crib from the first night home. Neither of us were sure we were doing the right things so suggestions sounded like criticism. When she said, "Just stick with it! Breast feeding is so much better for the baby than formula." I heard "You selfish wuss. I didn't let it get to me and my baby is better off than yours." What's not at all what she meant, but that's what I heard. When I would say things like, "Are you getting enough sleep? Do you feel like you need alone-time with your husband?" She heard, "Your marriage is going to fall apart because your baby sleeps with you." We both felt hurt and judged which led us to just stop talking to each other.
Lots has changed in the 8 years since I became a mom. I am much more comfortable in my decisions which has led me to be more comfortable in my friends' decisions. I know I am doing what is right for my kiddos and I know other moms are doing what is right for theirs. I have also learned to take what someone says at face value. Yes, breast milk is the best food for babies, but my babies get formula and I am OK with that. I no longer dissolve into tears when someone asks me why I don't breastfeed. My kids go to bed early and I have friends who kids stay up late. Big deal. When a friend asks me why I do or don't let my girls do certain things, I generally offer a brief explantion or simply say "Because that's what works for us." And I hope that when I say "Caroline really needs 11 hours of sleep." my friend does not hear "Your kids are sleep deprived brats."
This also becomes an issue as your kids get old enough to notice differences in families. Just recently Caroline has discovered that our close friends' kids have a TV in their room. I explained to her that is a choice each family has to make and we have made a different one. We are not better because we don't allow a TV in your room and they are not better because they do. (Well, cooler maybe, but not better.) Every mom has things that "push her buttons" A girlfriend and I have shared a good laugh over our inconsistancies. She forbids Kool-Aid because it's too high in sugar but her kids eat fruit snacks all day long. I don't have fruit snacks but my kids can drink Kool Aid til they have a permanent stain on their faces. It just is a "thing" for each of us.
I think as women and especially as moms we tend to read too much into the sub-text of conversation. I always say I don't offend easily but I guess that's not the best way to say it. I know that when I say something and it's misconstrued, it drives me nuts. I figure it probably drives others crazy too. If someone says something that rubs me the wrong way, I usually try to figure why, what were they really saying, and did it really have anything to do with me? Often what I heard, was not what was said.
And in case you were wondering, my friend and I did make peace. We are not close buddies but we have talked about it and both see that we were being way too sensitive at a hard time in our lives. We chat on occaision and I do consider her a friend. :-)
Ah, mother guilt. It strikes us all. When it was just Caroline, I was the perfect mother. "No child of mine. . ." crossed my lips A LOT! When Caroline was a toddler/preschooler she was allowed to watch 2 hours of TV a week. Yep. And you know what, I stuck to it. We played outside, did craft projects, went shopping and out to lunch with Grandma. We were in a playgroup, we went to MOPS, we went to the library. I'm telling you, I was the perfect mom.
And then I had another baby. And then another. And yet one more is coming. Life has changed and I have had to adjust my ideals with it. Now I'm not against TV. I'm not one of those folks who thinks Bert and Ernie are gay or that Barney is a occult figure. I love me some Blue's Clues or Dora. (Though I have had 3 kids so far that are DEATHLY afraid of Swiper!) My biggest motivation for limiting TV was I didn't want to start a habit I would have to break. I saw grade school age kids I knew who just spaced in front of the TV for hours. I am also married to one of those. Tim would watch Spanish game shows if that was all that was on. I am not a huge TV watcher~I like to watch certain things and when they are over, I move on. I rarely turn on the TV with no show in mind. I was successful with Caroline in this. She is not a huge TV watcher, usually turns it off as soon as her show is over. Amelia, not so much. That kid is just like Tim. She will watch anything at anytime and often whines til I give in and turn something on.
Since the weather has been mostly too rainy for outside play and I am spending lots of time lying on the bathroom floor trying to keep my lunch down, Amelia and Greta have been watching way more TV than I'd like. At first the guilt was crushing. I felt so bad that I was turn their brains to mush and not giving them the attention their big sister got. Slowly, I am accepting that things have changed. My mobility has changed, who wants to shop and do lunch with a toddler and a preschooler. Heck, I consider it a major accomplishment if I can hit Target and Strack's in the same day.
So I am hopeful that soon we can start to limit the TV time. I am saving my pennies for a fence so I can send 'em outside without close supervision as soon as it gets warm. Now we just need a sandbox and swing set. . .
My littlest kitty is 2 today and what a strange trip it's been! She's a hoot and a joy and total stinker. I was inspired by Jana and Nora's story to try to write Greta's. I have never actually written out any of their stories so I thought this might be fun to relive it all.
I found out I was pregnant with Miss Boo when Amelia was only 11 months old so I was a bit shocked to say the least. I took the test on a Sunday morning and Tim wasn't even home so I of course called Kary first. I believe I said "I'm pregnant" and she said "Shut up."
Anyway, a rather rough 6 months later I began to have really severe itching on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. I mentioned this crazy symptom to a few friends and they all thought I was weird and my doctor said, "You're pregnant. You itch." I just figured it was another one of those strange things that happen when I'm pregnant as I had similar symptoms with Amelia. One night when I was 35 weeks I couldn't sleep so I got up to surf the internet for baby names~since we still hadn't come up with a girl name. On one site someone commented on a bunch of names and then added a PS question about itchy hands and feet in pregnancy. I about fell off my chair. I followed the answers thru the maze of websites and ended up here. I had every single symptom listed and then I did what any rational very pregnant woman would. I FREAKED OUT. I tried to go back to sleep but ended up staring at the wall til morning. After I got Caroline off to school and Amelia settled into TV, I called my doctor. She was on vacation for 2 weeks. Um. . .not good. So I asked to speak to the doc on call. She ordered a bunch of blood tests and said, "Come back in a week." I had a gotten a friend to watch the girls while I went for more bloodwork and in chatting with her (she's a nurse) she says, "So-and-so had that with her daughter and she knows all about it. Call her." So I called the girl who was actually researching to write a book on Cholestasis. Her daughter was delievered in distress at 34 weeks. She gave me a referral to a high-risk doc who knows all about Cholestasis. After 950 phone calls to his office I finally got my Doctor Uncle Dave to call him for me. He called me back within 30 minutes, said come on down and we'll get that baby delievered tonight. Um, hello? Now?!? So off we went.
We got to the hospital, they hooked me up for a non-stress test, ultrasound, and amnio. Baby Girl (who we had decided on the way to the hospital to name Georiga Grace) is not cooked fully. Her lungs were "close but no cigar" was what the doc said. So we were sent home for the weekend with strict instructions to go straight to the ER if there was no movement for 30 minutes or more. Talk about a relaxing weekend~NOT! Over the course of the weekend we got a call from a girl from church whose niece was stillborn from Cholestasis. So that really helped me stay calm. Tim would wake me up all night long to ask if she was moving. Or I would wake up to him poking at my stomach trying to get her to move.
I called Dr Ambrose Monday morning and said I'm really stressed out about this, what can we do. He was really great. He said he totally understood, come on in and we'll check the lungs again. If they are closer, we'll induce you. Cut to the chase, lungs were ready, sent us up to L&D, started the pit and we were off! My Uncle Dave is an anethesiolgist so he stopped to see me. He looked at my monitors and said, "Why don't you have your edpidural yet?" I told him I wanted to walk, wait til the contractions were stronger, blah blah blah. He laughed at me, went and got his partner, shot that epidural right on it. It was awesome. I was so numb I kept asking the nurse if I was still have contractions. At on point I yelled at Tim for farting in front of the nurses. She jsut laughed and said, "Honey, that's you." Oooo! I was so embarassed!
Morning of Jan 11 came. Dr Ambrose came in at 7:45 and broke my water. I was only 3 so we figured it would be a while yet. About 8:30 I started feeling really uncomfortable. I was buzzing the nurse but not getting an answer. I sent Tim out to find her. He told her that I thought I needed to be checked. She rolled her eyes, told Tim that I was just at 3, and she'd be there in a minute. She came in 10 minutes later, lifted up my sheet, turned white, yelled "Don't push!" and ran out of the room. I complete and Baby Girl was crowning. After a flurry of activity, Dr Ambrose starts the 10 count to push. I got to 4 and he said "Stop, the head is out. . .oh, nevermind." I looked down and saw her little feet. He never even got a chance to suction her. That's what happens when your last baby was 8 lbs and this one was 6 lbs! She was healthy and perfect.
Greta Lindsay (Tim changed his mind about her name while I was in labor) was born at 8:50 on January 11, 2005. She is so much fun! Greta learned early on that in the chaos she needed to speak up or we'd forget about her. These days her greatest goal is to be just like her big sisters and tries so hard to keep up with them at all times. We love her to pieces and are so thankful for the gift that she is!
After all the craziness of the holidays I am so looking forward to some serious couch-potato time. And what better then American Idol? It starts again in a few weeks and we can't wait. I know it is the cheesiest thing ever but it is SO fun to watch! Here's a neat shot of our own American Idol on Christmas. This is what happens when fun aunts and uncles buy for your kids. And Uncle Jer had to get in on the fun too. I think he sang "Dancing Queen" while Greta did "Hinkle Hinkle Wittle Tar"
I'm a 30-ish wife to Tim and mom to 3 girls~Caroline 12, Amelia 7, and Greta 6 PLUS little monster boy~Wyatt. I try to live my life as I would want to see it played back in a Lifetime movie. . . with Jennie Garth playing the role of me. I offend an average 3.6 people per day. I'm trying to cut back.