When I had my first son, I was such a warrior of truth. I researched — to the bone — all things related to childbirth, pregnancy, and baby. I had my cloth diapers ready. I was committed to a 100% natural delivery and breastfeeding. I only allowed my baby to have organic food. I only used handmade and clean shampoo and soap. I used the best and most expensive nipple butter and diaper ointment. I wore my baby. I used essential oils whenever my baby was sick. I used supplements to improve our health. We co-slept. He wore an amber teething necklace. Ya’ll, I was to the ten with my knowledge and my loyalty to being “grass-fed.”
So preparing for my second baby seemed to be a breeze for me. I had this down. I had an amazing, empowered home birth. Ya’ll, I even drank placenta smoothies.
But then my baby got sick. At just 21 days old, my baby had blood drawn, an X-ray, FOUR attempts at a spinal tap (which they couldn’t get), and was hooked up to not one, but TWO antibiotics (goodbye, gut health). He was given Tylenol every 6 hours and nystatin for the yeast rash he was getting from the antibiotics. This was the most medical intervention I have experienced as a mother. This was a situation where oils and cod liver oil wouldn’t work.
I’m lucky because I know that many babies endure much more poking and medication than my baby Xander did. And I’m also lucky because I know from the bottom of my heart that I could not have given my baby the level of care that he needed in my own home as he did in that hospital.
It changed me.
All of a sudden, I got off my high horse and stood with every other mother that is just doing the absolute best they can for their babies with what they know and believe and have experienced. All of a sudden, there wasn’t just one way to do things.
All of a sudden, I wasn’t so obsessed with being a perfect “natural” mama, because truth be told: I was so stressed out I couldn’t handle those standards. And I STILL can’t. So I’m letting that perfectionism fly far away from me. You should too.
Truth be told, my cloth diapers are in my closet and I’m too guilty to admit it to even myself that I probably won’t use them with this baby. Because I am already drowning in laundry and I just…can’t.
I’ll tell you right now that my baby has had goldfish, and ice cream. Because big brother was eating it (okay, maybe I was eating the ice cream too) and nobody died from having a bite of it. It’s not that my standards are low, it’s just that I know from experience that my baby will turn into a toddler and probably only want to eat hot dogs and chicken nuggets anyways.
First kid: organic full fat yogurt with fermented cod liver oil.
Second child: trying to lick whipped cream from the inside of a lid.
And I’ll just admit it right here: if my baby hasn’t slept for 6 hours and is screaming and the natural teething ointment and the lavender epsom salt bath and breastfeeding and amber necklace has done nothing…I’m giving my baby the Tylenol.
I’m not saying all of this because I think there is anything wrong with being a full time crunchy mama. In fact, hats off to you. Maybe one day I’ll get back there. I’m telling you this because if you’re like me, you might feel guilty for not going above and beyond in every aspect of motherhood.
Motherhood is a mess. You do the best you can every single day to give your babies the brightest, healthiest future, and you let go of all the little things that really don’t matter in the long run…like whether the snacks were organic. Your babies will love you even if you can’t afford organic butter. Your babies will thank you for doing everything you could for them when they were in pain. Whatever is your best, keep doing that. One day, my best was that my toddler ate three hot dogs. Not proud of that, but it happened. Other days, a fresh spinach and berry smoothie is on the menu. It’s all okay.
I’m not 100% organic. In fact, I’m not 100% anything anymore. It’s just not possible to raise two tiny humans and have a healthy marriage and a fulfilling social life and a rich spiritual existence and be physically fit and start a career and be perfect at it. “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”
Keep them healthy. Keep them safe. Keep them clean. Keep them loved.
And most of all, let go of the guilt you have for not fitting into a preconceived idea of how you “should” be. Be the best mother you can be for your children. Full stop.
This article was originally published on the Northwest Arkansas Moms Blog. Read more here.