Granola Guilt // how our parenting methods can make us feel bad

I think that most Americans would label me as a “crunchy mom“.

You know, a mother who goes out of her way, usually including nontraditional alternatives, to ensure their child(ren)’s health, nutrition and development are the best. Some of these “nontraditional alternatives” may include things like prolonged breastfeeding, delaying the introduction of solid foods, baby led weaning, using cloth diapers and homemade, chemical free wipes, omitting processed foods and sugars, using organic and locally grown food whenever possible, homeopathic remedies and attachment parenting.  In other words, a perfect parent.  In less words, Beyoncé. Yes, many of these alternatives are things that we try to adhere to as we raise our child.  And yes, if possible, we try to do whatever we feel is best to ensure that our child gets the best upbringing possible.  But sometimes, all the alternatives, just make you feel plain guilty.

First off, let’s talk about the “mom” label.  Jazz and I parent together.  We make choices about Willow’s health, life, etc together.  I do not hold a mom “trump card”.  We share in the parenting as well as in implementing these healthy alternatives.  Jazz will most likely never be called a “crunchy dad” because he refuses to feed his daughter processed soy and makes healthy dinners from scratch for his family half of the week.  The crunchiness adjective cannot be separated from our parenting as a team.  Also, my own personal “crunchiness” has nothing to do with being a mom and everything to do with being Stacy; I was like this before I gave birth.

Now that I got that off my chest, I will proceed.

There are moments when I’m wearing Willow in the baby carrier, in her cloth diaper of course, after she’s breastfed and ate a full meal of whole foods from the farmer’s market, as I make my home brewed kombucha that I drink on the daily, when I feel really freaken proud of myself.  Like I am hot stuff and my parenting skills are superior.  Go me.  I’m amazing.

Then there are those desperate moments when I am out of the house, and give Willow a snack of white bread with Jif peanut butter (you may have heard of it.  It’s one of those non-organic, hydrogenated oil filled, wanna be nut butters {sarcasm}), as I push her in her stroller with a tray full of toys that were made in China, one of those being my iPhone.  And I feel like I am either a) poisoning our child b) making her feel isolated and alone down there in her stroller or c) both.  And she’s been wearing disposable diapers all week because we are too lazy to wash the cloth diapers. And we haven’t ready enough books together today. And our parenting is really failing at the moment because we let our child, who sleeps in a separate room, cry for 10 minutes last night before we went and comforted her. Because sharing a bed with our baby just isn’t in the cards for us and I really need her to sleep through the night because I have to get up at 5:30 am to get ready for work.

Then I see other parents who are more “crunchy” than we are, much more conscious about what they feed their family and how they spend time together, and then I feel even worse.

And all of the non-crunchy parents are rolling their eyes.

Listen, health, nutrition and child development are very important to me.  Most of the time, I am kind of a Nazi about what goes into our child’s mouth (just ask my parents).  But if there is one emotion that I could sure use less of in parenting (besides exhaustion) is guilt.

No matter your parenting style and nutrition preferences, parenting is rack full of guilt.  Because no one wants to mess up their child, no one.  And no one knows what the hell they are doing, really, no one.  But we compare and measure ourselves against one another, and although we have moments of pride the size of mount Everest, we probably spend a lot of time feeling like we aren’t doing a good enough job.  Because we aren’t a perfect parent, and doesn’t our perfect child deserve a perfect parent?

But if we put so much pressure on ourselves that we are ridden with guilt while our children are small, imagine what our children will grow up thinking about themselves if they learn everything from watching us?  Will they not also put too much pressure on themselves and be ridden with guilt?

Here is what I am thinking.  We will never be perfect parents.  Hold on to your convictions and quirky parenting methods.  Embrace them and love them.  And then cut yourself some slack.  Drop the guilt and celebrate the fact that your child is healthy, alive and happy.  Pass on the harsh judgement of both yourself and others.  Chances are, at some point, we will probably screw up our child in one way or another.  Because we’re human (we will be setting aside some money so that our child can see a counselor when they are older, just in case). And being human is awesome because we get to love and play and eat good food and make babies.

And even Beyoncé is not a perfect parent.
Creative Commons License
Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


4 thoughts on “Granola Guilt // how our parenting methods can make us feel bad

  1. jcw0623 says:

    Well done. You make some amazing points here. It really doesn’t matter what your parenting style is – we all have different thoughts and ideals and are just trying to do what’s best for our babies – but we do need to relax and allow ourselves, and our children, to make mistakes and grow. I’m expecting my first child in about 5 months and I am constantly thinking about what type of father I want to be. No matter what type of (awesome) father I will be to my child, I need to go about it with confidence and allow myself to learn. Thanks for the post! I hope you’ll stop by my blog as well.

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