Becoming a mother has made me feel something I am not accustomed to feeling: incompetent. I mean, I usually feel pretty good about my decisions as a mother until I start hearing someone else's philosophy or routine or expectations. And this weekend was extra difficult for me. That question just kept repeating in my head over and over again, "Am I a good mom?".
For starters, I let Maleah stay with my mom Thursday night so Blake and I could go to a concert. The kid is 13 weeks old and she's already spent the night away from home three times. Am I a bad mom because I wanted to go to a concert while someone else took care of my kid?
Then someone said yesterday how hard it was for them to drop their baby off at the church nursery door instead of being able to walk them in (new changes). The statement stunned me because I really didn't feel that way at all. I didn't think that mother was absurd for feeling that way... I thought I was absurd for not feeling that way. Am I a bad mom because I don't feel the pangs of being separated for a few hours?
Then I got reprimanded for letting Maleah sleep on her tummy for naps. "Would you put her in a car without a car seat?? It's just as risky to let her sleep on her stomach - she could die of SIDS." While I am aware that it is not recommended for babies to sleep on their stomachs, I also know that letting her sleep on her stomach isn't 100% what causes SIDS. And my kid needs to sleep in order to grow... she sleeps better on her stomach during nap times, so we let her. Am I a bad mom for letting her do this?
And then there are the things that no one even has to mention to get my mind stirring. Every time I scoop out "nasty formula" (as I refer to it), I am reminded that we switched to formula long before I ever intended. And we feed her that nasty formula on a routine. (Side note- I don't think formula is bad. I just wanted to be able to nurse longer. And it's "nasty" because formula smells so bad!!) We only change her diaper once after each feeding (so, about every 3 hours). I rock her to sleep at night. I put big giant bows on her head. I do not have a thousand adorable monogrammed outfits. We let her sit in her bouncy seat and entertain herself for a while sometimes. I don't freak out when she spits up and will let her wear a bib until it's really soaked. We did Ferber's "Progressive Waiting" at 6 weeks. Do I need to continue?
I'm constantly questioning myself. Wondering if what I am doing is going to scar her. Wondering who's judging me and when (the question isn't "if" - they're definitely judging). Wondering if I should watch what I say in fear that someone's going to comment on my parenting style and abilities.
And then I look at my sweet little baby. She is super happy and content - rarely puts up a fuss. She's easy-going and predictable. She is growing and developing just as she should.
And I look at how I feel. Prior to putting her on a routine and doing the Progressive Waiting method, I was miserable. I did not enjoy having a baby because I was so lost. Maleah would be upset and I would have to try a hundred things to finally figured out why she was crying. For others, it's opposite - being on a routine is stressful for them. That's great for them! But what makes our entire family happier is doing things the way we do them.
Knowing that my family is healthy and happy is confirmation enough that yes, I am a good mother. I just might do some things differently, and that's okay.