In the last few months of my pregnancy I was so excited to do all the things I knew would make me a Great Mom; I bought a baby carrier, read up on breastfeeding and pumping tips (including making a chart for storing breast milk properly), pinned a million baby activities on Pinterest, and went to an accelerated birthing class. Turns out that only the birthing class would make a difference. Everything else ended up being totally worthless. The top-rated carrier that was still over $100 second-hand? It’s too big for me to wear. (As a very short person, this is the case with many things.) Breastfeeding and pumping info? My milk wasn’t plentiful enough, so after a few short and aggravating weeks we gave up for formula. Baby activities? Well, that was a tad useful, but mostly reserved for a baby that can sit up or at least lay on their tummy for more than 10 seconds without bawling their eyes out.
Did I feel completely shitty about now being a Cut-Rate Mom? Was I on the path to becoming a Bad Mom? Sorta. I find I’m constantly reminding myself that I don’t have to do the most in order to make sure my baby is doing well. Moreover, I remember that people have been raising babies for thousands of years without all the gadgets, apps, parenting books, and guilt-trips we have now. It’s pretty easy to make sure your baby grows up “normal” as long as you love it and care for it to the best of your abilities. Family, friends, support groups, there’s so many people to help when you can’t handle it (I’ve definitely had to reach out a few times when I needed a break for my mental health, and a couple times where I just needed a goddamn shower) AND IT’S OKAY! Being a parent is tough as hell, some times it takes longer than you’d like for things to mellow out and fall into a groove, but it will happen.
When I had complained on Instagram about being stuck for hours with a sleeping baby on my chest instead of being productive, my mother pointed out that my baby is only this little for a short time, and whatever I want to do can wait. I am important to her, and I need to take care of myself too. Looking back I realize how stupid I was being. My baby LOVES me so much, she could only sleep while being as close to me as possible. And I complained about it because I wanted to do chores! I’d been worrying about a lot of the wrong things, or stuff that ended up being no problem at all. Now all I worry about is if she’ll fall asleep before we get to the park, or if she’s going to suddenly hate the baby food I just made 6 jars of.
It doesn’t matter if you have the nicest stroller, educational toys, go to mommy & me yoga, or do photoshoots of your breastfeeding sessions. You might do all those things and find out you hate it all. The best times you have could be when you got 4 hours of sleep, haven’t showered in a week, and got delivery every night, but your baby finally slept through the night while you got to scroll Facebook before passing out at 7pm. Expectations are not reality, and you could drive yourself mad trying to make it work out that way. Whatever works best for you is it. Period.