Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best Mom Tip #8: Wallow in your guilt for a while

I have apparently been starving my 4 month old son. He came into the world at 9 pounds and really packed on the weight for the first two months. These last two months, however, he lost a pound. I have been breast feeding him exclusively and have been really proud of myself for being able to give him the best nutrition possible, so I was both shocked and really bummed out that I've actually been totally ignorant of the fact that he was hungry.

I had to start weaning my daughter at 3 months because I went back to work full time and pumping breast milk in a high school is quite challenging. Walking in on your history teacher with a giant plastic duck attached to her naked breast is enough to get a straight kid thinking about alternative lifestyles. So since I decided not to hog the teacher's bathroom for 30 minutes during lunch or traumatize my students during 3rd period, my eldest child got formula during the day. I felt horribly guilty about this.

I also felt guilty that I even went to work at all and I especially felt guilty that I enjoyed it. I really liked lunch (and I was eating at a high school cafeteria) because no one touched me. I felt guilty because she had an ear infection that I didn't notice for a while. I felt guilty because the first day I went back to work she didn't take a nap for the entire 8 hours (she was 14 weeks old) and when I picked her up her glassy-eyed expression looked like she'd been hitting the 'shrooms a little hard.

I haven't felt as guilty with my son because I generally do a better job at parenting--or at least I don't make the same mistakes as I did with my daughter. So the guilt I feel at starving him is pretty awful. My husband says helpful things like "you shouldn't feel guilty." He doesn't seem to realize that I don't really have a choice.

So I am going to wallow in my guilt for a little while. If the baby whimpers before nap time, I will snuggle him for two hours to try to make up for not feeding him enough. I will interject what a horrible mother I am into conversations--like "hi, Jane, I'm sorry about your dog dying, but I'm starving my son."

Then I will shake it off--because I'm sure I will do something else to feel guilty about tomorrow.

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