Friday, February 7, 2014

Learning to be Flexible

Before I had a baby I did the thing that all new moms do, I made a list in my head of all the things I would do to make sure my children grew up to be brilliant, artistic, athletic and all around perfect people.  My list started with: I will read at least 3 books to Ethan each day, he will watch no TV until he's old enough and then he will have only 1/2 an hour of TV a day, I will use cloth diapers, I will breast feed (which includes breast milk in a bottle) and not use formula. The list goes on and on.

Things got off to a good start, I was home all day with Ethan and I would check things off of my list as the day went on.  I found a sitter who was willing to use my cloth diapers and breast milk in a bottle, I had it all figured out.  Once I went back to work I realized I had no idea what the heck I was talking about, I was on the verge of killing Jeff, and ready to tear out the little bit of hair I still had left (FYI I totally went bald after having Ethan as if there wasn't enough to feel bad about).

Finally, one event made me realize that I needed to re-evaluate my list.  Ethan is taken care of by a babysitter Mondays-Thursdays, and my mom and dad take turns watching him on Fridays.  During one of the Fridays, my sister was visiting and helped my dad take care of Ethan.  After half an hour of watching T.V. the conversation went as follows:

Alani (sister): Dad, Luanita doesn't like Ethan to watch T.V.
Dad: I don't get why not; there is a lot of educational T.V. for kids.  He can learn a lot of stuff from Sesame Street and shows like that.
Alani: But dad, you guys are watching Looney Tunes!
Dad: Yea, but he likes it.

This event made me realize that there's a lot I can control in my children's life, but there is also a lot I can't control.  I made the conscious decision that in order to stay sane (and married) I needed to relax and choose things that I truly felt were important for my son's well being, and then not sweat the small stuff.  Don't get me wrong though, if you're a mom that's been able to control such things, good for you!  My point is that each mom has to be realistic about the fact that even though we're expected to do everything perfectly, we're not superheroes.  If throughout your parenting journey you end up doing or allowing things you had previously said "Oh, I'll never let my child do that," don't be so hard on yourself.  Give yourself a break and know that whatever decisions you're making you know what's best for you and your baby, and no one else can tell you what's best for your family.

In the end I decided that breastfeeding and cloth diapering were my priorities, things that I could control even when I'm not watching Ethan.  Now when I leave for the day I take a deep breath and know that the people that watch Ethan love him and will use their best judgement, but part of that means that there will be Looney Tunes watching and very few books read when mommy's not around.
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