Thursday, July 23, 2015

Parent Perfectionism: Why I'm Not Perfect

All I've ever wanted to be was a mommy. To have a sweet baby to love. A baby that I could snuggle with and then rock to sleep. A baby that would giggle when we make silly faces. A baby that would fall asleep saying "mama" and "dada" in her crib. 

In my almost eleven months as a mama (11 months, really? It's been 11 months already!?!?), I've learned A LOT. More than I ever thought I could learn. Being a mom is a learning process every. step. of. the. way. 

Looking back, there's already things I would change. Things I would do differently. Lessons learned from day 1. And you know what? That's okay. It's okay that being a first time mom has been a learning experience. Not that I ever want my sweet little munchkin to know that mama and dada were unsure with a lot of things while she was a newborn, infant, and baby. 

But it's the truth. 

Say what? 
You mean I'm not perfect?
You got it! And I'm so okay with that!  

So I've come up with a few "rules" of modern mommyhood that I've broken that prove my imperfection. Some I've broken on purpose. Some I didn't even know I was breaking until I lay in bed at night, revisiting the day. All things that prove that I'm not a perfect mom. My husband isn't a perfect dad. But you know what? Our sweet little Elizabeth is perfect and that's all that matters. 

Rule #1: Pregnancy Journal
Oh man. This one makes me go back and forth on if I regret not doing it. During my pregnancy, I took "bump" pictures every other week. That's about it. I had a pregnancy journal, but I just never got around writing in it. I didn't blog much during my pregnancy, so I didn't do the cute "bump-dates" that all my fellow bloggers did. But basically it comes down to this: my first trimester I was exhausted and thought I could eat anything I wanted. I gained 11 pounds. My cravings included fresh fruit and chocolate chip cookies. My second trimester I craved hard-boiled eggs in my salad, I was working out religiously still, and I was no longer tired. My third trimester I had tons of cravings but didn't give in because I was misdiagnosed as having Gestational Diabetes. Between my second and third trimester I only gained 6 pounds. I worked out up until the day before I went into labor (which resulted in me having the easiest labor and delivery EVER) and I wasn't tired at all during the third trimester. If I remember the basics, then I shouldn't regret not doing the obligatory pregnancy journal, right?

Rule #2: Breastfeeding
I'm a quitter. No if's, and's or butt's. I quit when I got too uncomfortable and ended up using formula after about 5 weeks of exclusively pumping. Don't judge. Until you're an "exclusive pumper" because of latching issues, you have NO idea what it's like. You spend every couple hours pumping and then in-between that, you have to feed your baby what you pumped. You cannot even compare this to regular breastfeeding. You miss out on sleeping time and/or time spent with your sweet newborn and it's double the amount of work than regular nursing. I remember pumping in the nursery while my husband was in the living room with my parents, all adoring Elizabeth. I was missing out on moments with her. It's been eleven months and seeing all the pro-breastfeeding posts STILL makes me feel bad. Can we just stop shaming mama's who decided to just do formula? Why does breastfeeding have to be a requirement to be a "perfect" mom?

Rule #3: Baby's Sleep Schedule
Nope. Our little baby girl wasn't on a schedule until she was out of daycare when I started summer vacation (I'm a teacher). From the time she was a newborn until the first week of June, her napping schedule was almost non-existent (she did sleep on weekends but when she was at daycare during the week, naps just never, ever happened). She slept when she wanted to, even when my husband and I would plead with her to just fall asleep so we could catch up on housework. But you know what? She started sleeping through the night at about 2.5 months and very rarely woke up in the middle of the night once that happened. I drove myself crazy trying to get her on a schedule. I "googled" and asked other mama's. They gave fantastic advice. It just didn't work. She had a quiet dark room. We had a white noise machine. I fed her a bottle before naps. It just didn't work for us. Now that she's almost 11 months, she's on a schedule. But with going back to work in three weeks, that will all change again. Even with little to no naps during the day, our little munchkin was a happy baby. She's always energetic. Always happy. Not to mention, she did all of the "milestones" right on track - rolling over, sitting up, standing, etc. No worries here about not having her on a sleep schedule. We did the best we could and she's perfectly fine.

Rule #4: Planning a First Birthday Party
Oye. I don't even know where to start. Maybe it's because most of my family is up in Buffalo. Maybe it's because we have a small house. Or maybe it's because we don't have the money. Planning her first birthday party is easy peasy for us. We're having a few friends over for an early afternoon party. She's having a smash cupcake, we're having some snacks, and we're calling it a day (after "pinning" ideas on Pinterest one afternoon I simply stopped and said "nope, not doing this"). Anyone who was born before like 2006 didn't have a huge first birthday party. None of us had a "smash" cake. I honestly feel like first birthday parties are an excuse for some parents to compare themselves to each other. Who has the best cake? Who has the best theme? Who has the best party? What toys will everyone buy my baby.? Guess what? Your one-year old won't remember that party. They won't remember smashing into that cake. They won't remember those toys. But you'll remember a fussy baby who was tired of sitting in a highchair waiting for you to snap that perfect picture. I just want to enjoy my baby's first birthday - it's a day to celebrate. (I will say that we are doing a 1-year photoshoot but it will NOT be on her birthday, or even during that week).

So does all of this mean I'm not perfect? Most likely. I'm so okay with that. My husband and I have a beautiful baby girl, who is so close to being a toddler it makes me want to burst into tears. But you know what? She has two parents who have done everything in the world for her. She is happy, healthy, and absolutely perfect to us.

Will I eat my words on some of these things if and when we have a second baby? 
Maybe. Who knows. 
Maybe I'll decide that I do want an over the top birthday party. 
Or that I will read every piece of literature about getting baby on the perfect sleep schedule.

But until then, I'm going to enjoy being an imperfect mom. A all-day yoga pant wearing mom who often second-guesses herself, a mom that asks mommy friends questions, and a mom who doesn't have all of the answers. I'm so blessed to have friends who DO have the answers because without them, I'd be lost.

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  1. Thanks for sharing these thoughts! Can't wait for the day when I can relate to all of this!

  2. I'm just as imperfect, if not more. Such a great honest post. Thank you.

  3. I'm just as imperfect, if not more. Such a great honest post. Thank you.

  4. What a great post. Some many parents struggle with trying to reach a perfection that doesn't really exist.

  5. I'm on my third kid and there are still so many things I look back and wish I had done differently. But it's OK. I have friends who say, "I have no idea how you are doing it" and I say it's one day at a time. I'm doing it every day, it's working, we're all alive and well and it's totally fine. There are things I want to do with Penelope now that I didn't do with Olivia and Jackson that I end up not doing (like fun pictures with a photographer, etc) because I want to be even. I don't want one to think I did more for the other, etc. It's the worst!

  6. Mama you and I are like soul sisters!! You nailed it!
    To each their own, be the best you can be, trust your gut and may all the babes turn out wonderful! And they will :))

  7. Good "rules"! I was an exclusive pumper for almost 4 months- and I felt like a cow in a factory lol When I finally stopped, I enjoyed time with my baby so much more! It breaks my heart when Momma's shame each other over breastfeeding. Whatever is best for Momma and Baby is best.

  8. I can definitely relate and I'm sure many other moms can as well. We put so much pressure on ourselves and the reality is that motherhood is such a constant learning experience. I think knowing that we are not alone in our imperfections helps a lot! Thanks for sharing!

  9. The best moms are the imperfect ones because they're the honest ones, wink

  10. I've had 4 children now and I regret not doing certain things during my pregnancy and their early years. I've come to terms with what I missed and realized I did the best I can. Thank you for your honest look into this, I think too many of us beat ourselves up over these little details.


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