Monday, April 29, 2013

Am I a Good Mom?

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.


  1. Um... I would encourage you, to the extent that you can, to classify yourself as a learning mother and avoid good versus bad labels. You will make mistakes. We all do. You will do things that will amaze yourself. We all did.

    I would put her on her back to sleep, I like the odds better, but I think if you need a label I might go with great. Good is so weak, and I wish we could have let our boy spend more nights away when he was younger if nothing else for our sake.

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  3. Yeah I'll be deleting that comment. ;)

  4. I agree with Matt that it's a learning process, and no matter what people say, nobody has it all figured out. And I'm not just talking in the beginning, I mean EVER. Any mom who says she does has forgotten that her child is a free-willed individual that will surprise her in the most horrifying and wonderful ways.

    At the same time, my experience has been that I have grown more comfortable in my ROLE as a mother, and it's at least partly because I have gotten to know my child. Other people may have opinions on what's best for him or what he'll like, but I'm one of the only two people in the world who are with him every day of his life right now. So unless it's his doctor telling me to change the way I'm doing things, sorry, folks, but I will only take your advice with a grain of salt at best.

    You are doing just fine, Katie. I think the desire to be a good mother speaks volumes.

    Oh, and I totally agree about the stinkage of formula!

  5. Thanks, Misty! I think the key for me is to stop letting other people tell me whether I'm a good mom or not. I can just look at Maleah and see how happy and healthy she is and know that I'm doing it right. :)

    Yeah... formula smells so bad. SO bad! It makes me gag sometimes, haha!