Leo and I took a quick jog around Bernal Hill yesterday, sloshing through a few puddles along the way, and while I slogged, I thought about this book that I just started reading, and how even after only 10 pages, it had me bursting with ideas for blog posts about *important* stuff that I would really like to talk about here on Mommyproof — everything from breastfeeding to pumping to the notion of “50/50” and elimination communication (look that one up if you haven’t heard about it. It will blow your mind. And not necessarily in a good way).
The aforementioned book is “Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores The Truth About Parenting and Happiness,” and its author, Jessica Valenti, is pretty sassy and also kinda balls-out gutsy (or should I say boobs out? Would probably be more fitting). I won’t review the book until I’ve read more than one chapter (that tends to be what you do before you claim to know anything about what a book is about) but I think she’s hit the nail on the head already when she talks about guilt, and how that plays such a huge (and unfortunate) role in American motherhood. This is nothing new — we all know that a lot of us are guilty of being guilty (I know I am), but I’m hoping she’ll offer up some good solutions, and strategies for not letting yourself become so wrapped up in being “mom enough” that you lose yourself, your identity, and even your connection to your baby and your spouse in the process.
A small example from my own experience, but still a noteworthy one: natural childbirth. I didn’t make it as high a priority as I could have (which probably means it wasn’t as important to me as it might be for other women), but I did *try*, and after 12 hours of painful contractions sans meds, I welcomed that giant needle fearlessly despite a long track record of fainting at the mere sight of a flu shot. Afterwards? I told people that it was a good thing epidurals existed, because it was another 12 hours before the baby came, and there was no way in hell I would have made it that long without help. Did I love having the epidural? No. It’s really weird when your legs are all numb, and nobody warns you about that. Also, all those meds can make you feel like you were on a mediocre acid trip later on. But once my baby was born and one sleepless night turned into another, and another, whether or not I “got” the epidural was LITERALLY the last thing on my mind. Sure, I would have loved to have done it naturally. Sure, I still look on with awe at the women who have. Sure, I feel a tad bit disappointed in myself, but the fact of the matter is, I am a wuss. I don’t run marathons or get tattoos or even fast on certain holidays because I just can’t willingly cause myself pain. Clearly, I should add contractions to that list.
My point with this drawn-out story that you probably don’t care about? I could EASILY feel guilty that I failed. I could EASILY beat myself up about this or think of all the ways Leo might be more zen or athletic or good at algebra if I hadn’t had that epidural. But why? Because other mothers didn’t get them, and I did? Maybe other mothers can’t sing to their babies like I can. I didn’t make a lot of homemade purees for Leo — maybe you did. Good for me, good for you. Let’s all just be proud of each other, shall we?!
More on “Why Have Kids” later on. In the meantime, remind yourself that if you were good at everything, none of your friends would like you anymore.