I will admit to having been sucked into minutia with my first baby. My daughter seemed so perfect and organic in those ultrasound pictures. A clean slate. Unmarked and uncontaminated and I felt it was my job to keep her that way. No drugs at birth and nothing but breast milk, because I didn't want to pollute her tiny body. Heavens, no crying because that released stress hormones that could injure her growing brain. And as little time as possible anywhere but in my arms, since baby equipment is covered in chemicals that might mess with her endocrine system.
And when she was born, my husband and I became focused on the minutia of parenting. Controlling as many aspects of her life because ours had been turned upside down and we didn't know what to do. Obsessing over little details, like whether we should buy organic sheets for our bed, helped us to not think about how our lives would never be the same.
Looking back on it, I laugh at myself because she (and all babies) are far from clean slates at birth. They're "contaminated" by all the things moms eat and drink before they are even pregnant. It is nearly impossible to completely avoid toxins in the environment. And recent news shows that dad's habits can also effect the genetic material they provide, making them responsible for babies not quite being that clean slate that we thought. And I had set an impossibly high bar for myself. I had an epidural during my labor. We gave her lots of medicine as an infant because she was an early teether and had reflux and colic. Breastfeeding was a struggle so she had bottles and we gave her cereal to try to get her to sleep better. She cried for hours every day, regardless of what we did. Eventually, we had to stop focusing on worrying over every little choice and we started doing what worked for us. We let go of our need to adhere to anyone's standards and let life happen. The minutia became a burden and barrier to happiness rather than a protection and we released it.
It has been almost nine years since this time. Then this year, I had another baby, so I'm in the unique position of comparing the world of parenting over a decade... And I am overwhelmed at the ability of parents to remain in the minutia. Entire product lines, books and websites exist to feed on the fear of parents and keep them obsessing over the details. "If I do this, what will happen to my child, me, my family?!?" There are endless articles and internet memes designed to keep moms (and dads, but mostly moms) questioning their choices for sleep, diapering, feeding and toys. And there is an endless supply of products that claim to be the one to prevent each new problem or protect the child better.
But even more amazing to me, is the willingness of parents to remain in the minutia. It seems normal to obsess over the little things when we first have a baby. Even if it is our third, fifth or tenth child, this little person embodies a big change and lots of hopes and dreams. But it is also normal, eventually, for reality to set in. For parents to stop running on the wheel of fear and perfection and do what works. But what I see in the media, marketplace and online is that many parents are choosing to keep striving for the unreachable standard, allowing their bar to be set by marketers rather than our baby or family.
It just blows my mind.
Am I perfect? No. Do I never feel guilt over the choices I make a a mom? No, but for my sanity I must step back and realize that I am operating from a place of good enough. And that makes me good enough for *my* kids. (And c'mon, I gotta give them something to talk to their therapists about in ten years!)