Monday, April 5, 2010

Don't complain to me if there is dirt in your water

Ok, so some of you will not have this problem. And, if that is the case, then congrats, but please don't share with me, I don't need to feel inadequate. In our bathroom there is a cup that holds toothbrushes, and in the bottom of said cup (the part that does not hold the bristles that go in our mouth, thank goodness) there is regularly found a layer of what can only be described as crud. Well, we also have a cup in the bathroom for drinking (though Tater would prefer to drink from the lid to a bottle of mouthwash or a medicine cup in the bathroom...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I say). Tonight, as the bed time routine commenced, Tater really wanted to drink from the cup that held the toothbrushes. I told her that it was gross and this was a bad idea, but she insisted. So, as I went to lay out her clothes for tomorrow (a new habit we have since she finally FINALLY finally wants to do things like dress herself), I said, "fine, drink from it if you want, but don't come cryin' to me if your water has dirt in it."

When I came back, she decided to drink from the mouthwash lid. (Which is better than the toilet bowl, I suppose).

Should I feel bad about giving in, about not standing my ground. Should I feel guilt about telling her not to come crying to me, for putting it in such a harsh manner. Maybe. Seriously, on the list of things that makes me a bad parent (see ruining the easter bunny of yesterday), this is just a blip on the radar. One that will soon be forgotten, or not, seeing as elephant does not forget. Either way, I doubt it will scar her for life. If I am wrong, I am hoping that her 529 can be converted to use for mental health treatment.

I was reading about mommy guilt today. A friend and another blogger did posts on it today. As I read, I had the following thoughts.
1) I am cold and callous, because I am not afflicted by this mommy guilt complex.
2) Maybe its easier for me not to feel guilty, since just by being I am giving my child something that I never had.

My thoughts on this phenomenon. Lots of folks have lots of guilts about lots of things. Some justified some not. In the end, what is the source of that guilt. With little to no exception it is all internal. Its not because someone else is judging you its because you are judging yourself. I personally have tons of things that many may think I should feel guilty about.

I spend an obscene amount of money paying an alternate caregiver for my child (i.e. daycare).

She spent every day of her infancy in disposable diapers (I don't have the patience or the energy to keep up with cloth, I can't even keep up with our regular clothes).

All her meals as an infant were out of a bottle. Mind you, this was one that caused me much grief for a long while. She never had one ounce of formula, but she also never nursed. She wouldn't latch, hours upon hours in the breastfeeding clinic couldn't get her to (she has been headstrong since day one). For a long time, I knew just KNEW that every parent was looking at me and thinking I was pumping my child full of crap in a can. But then, I realized that was my issue, not theirs, I didn't assume that every parent giving their child formula was out to ruin their life. Not a choice for me, but it didn't mean that they love their child any less. And so, why should I assume that no matter what was in the bottle, that they thought that of me.

I have hobbies that are all mine.

I have gone on vacations without any of the rest of my family. Just me.

She watches TV, knows how to run netflix, knows about GPS, and can run the ipod better than her daddy. I have used all of these as electronic babysitters at one point or another.

She asks to listen to "" and knows that if mommy does not know an answer that we should just google it.

She does not know that she is "not supposed to tattle" (another day another post, about the reason we have a strict rule against teaching no tattling).

She never heard of the concept of "stranger danger" until just recently, at school. (another day, another post, about the reason why I am dead set against teaching this concept).

We have a metric crap ton of plastic toys, and I have never lost one wink of sleep about what chemicals might be leaching out of them and into her blood stream.

She has been told to rub dirt in that wound (yes, yes, I know, this is going to cause a staph infection, she will swell up and die), and to walk it off after falling down.

If you ask her what would happen if wishes were horses, she will tell you "beggars would ride"

I enforce a strict no crying at the table rule, if you wanna cry go to your room. You are not going to ruin everyone else's meal with whining.

We have time out. And we use it.

We take her to church and enforce our religious beliefs on her. When she is older, she can choose, for now, we get to indoctrinate her.

In the end, I don't feel guilty about any of it. None of us are perfect, I don't even really want to be perfect. This is my child, my one and only job in this world is to teach her how to be a productive member of society. Sometimes that means seeing that the world is not a nice place (she can tell you that mommy works with other mommies who don't treat their kids kindly and that daddy sometimes has to put bad people in jail...the night when we figured out she could follow a conversation is another story of bad parenting). She will learn from my mistakes, I will not hide them from her. I will treat her exactly how I would want to be treated by someone who made a mistake around or about me. I will apologize, I will explain what happened, I will give myself a time out. I will not allow myself to be guilty for being imperfect. That being perfect thing doesn't seem to work out all that well anyway, remember what they did to the last perfect person.

I grew up with just my dad. By being here, being human, and being present (not by being perfect or spending my time feeling bad about being perfect) I am something to my daughter that my mother was not to me. A mother.

And at the end of the day. That thought alone makes the missteps, the foibles, the harsh words, forgettable. 20 years from now, those bad days, those bad things, those things that I am doing that are rotting her brain, those will not be her memories. Snuggling up and watching a movie (even if it will rot her brain) playing games with mommy (and daddy, even if they are on the computer or the ipod), those things will be important to her.

I will have set an example, albeit imperfect, that I never had. An example of what a mom should do. Because in the end, I am doing what is right, for me, for her, and for my family. Even if it does not fit what other people think is ideal.


  1. It's true - mama guilt for me comes from what *I* feel I'm doing "wrong" or "inadequately", not from what other people think. If I stopped to worry about what other people thought of my parenting all the time, I'd never get a break from the worrying!

  2. You are right that this guilt is usually all in our heads. There are quite a few things that I'll never feel guilty about in terms of my parenting. BTW, I probably would have done the same thing you did when your daughter insisted on drinking out of the gross cup. Sometimes you have to let them find things out for themselves.