Lately, I’ve been asking myself , what kind of mother am I?
In some ways, I am the mother I always thought I would be. In others, I am the mother that I know many people would shake their head at in disgust and disapproval because they would think that I’m selfish and cruel. And you know what? When it comes to what others think, I can finally, honestly say, I don’t care.
Let’s get my mommy sins on the table, though, shall we? Rex hasn’t had the sweet taste of breastmilk since April, instead subsisting on the crack that is Similac (ooh, is it bad that crack and Similac rhyme?). He sleeps in his own crib, and has since we brought him home from the hospital. If he cries in the middle of the night, I turn over and go back to sleep. If he is happy in his crib and talking to himself, I let him stay there. He goes to daycare pretty much five days a week.
Do these things make me cruel and heartless? Do they make me a bad mom? Nope, although if you think so, so be it. I have excellent reasons for why I commit all of these ‘sins’ against my child, all of which culminate in the fact that they help him gain valuable skills that he will need in this dog eat dog world of ours.
You know the part about letting him cry at night? It’s because it teaches him to soothe himself and put himself back to sleep, which he can now do in under 10 minutes. I’m certain the neighbors whose master bedroom is about four feet from his window are thrilled with that development since there were a few nights there where he was averaging 20 – 30 minutes of pure on crying (and I’m not sorry, guys – this is payback for leaving your extremely reactive dog with the World’s Most Annoying Bark outside at all hours for the last two years).
The daycare? It’s a fabulous facility that stimulates him socially, physically and intellectually far better than any regimen I could dream up or implement. I’ve missed seeing him hit a few developmental milestones, but what’s most important is that he’s hitting them, early sometimes, and that he has someone there who is just excited about it as I would be. And, its his daycare that lets me go back to work which I needed to do for my sanity and for our bottom line. I need that time as an adult to be the best mom to Rex that I can.
The Similac Crack? Several different reasons there. One, the child has the appetite of an elephant. There was just no way my itty bitty titty committee could keep up and I really detested pumping. Two, frankly, I wanted my body back. I gave him 110% for nine months, just as I gave my two previous pregnancies the best chance possible with following all of the draconian food and beverage restrictions of pregnancy. The way I see it, though, I’ve let others have my body for the last five years – through the initial wonderment phase of trying to conceive, to the trenches of treatment. My body did everything that was asked of it and I limited, restricted, cut back on whatever I needed to get the job done. Once Rex was born and I had safely delivered my perfectly confected cargo, I knew that I would want my body back to do with as I pleased. I knew that it would be sooner rather than later. I just knew. In the end, he got four weeks of breast milk, which I am happy with. I had some wonderful moments with him breastfeeding and I’m glad for it. He’s growing like a weed on the formula and thriving. So it’s costing a small fortune. It’s worth it if it means that Mr. X can drag his ass out of bed at 3 am and feed Rex without me having to do anything but give him an encouraging shove.
Rex sleeps in his crib because I was initially terrified about rolling over on him in my sleep and looking forward, I don’t want a three year old in my bed. It’s hard enough to sleep with Mr. X throwing himself around (I don’t care what you say, Tempurpedic with your damn wine glass demonstration, I still feel him moving all time) and the cat wedged up at my head let alone a three year old throwing himself around the bed too. No, I wanted to nip that one in the bud (or bed?) ASAP. And, when Rex wakes up in the morning, I love to hear the sound of him chirping as he talks to himself and grabs at his little footsies. He babbles, raspberries and coos to the ceiling fan. He’s learning to amuse himself, which again, is a terribly valuable skill, especially when it means giving mommy and daddy that extra 30 minutes of sleep.
I used to fret that I was too selfish to be a good mom. Now I know that the question is not whether I am too selfish, but if I am selfish enough to let him grow and develop in the way that is best for him. The answer is a resounding yes.