“I’m going to exclusively breastfeed. For at least two years.”
“I’m going to feed the baby all organic food, home cook every meal from scratch, and puree everything.”
“We’re going to co-sleep and whole-hardheartedly adopt the Attachment Parent philosophy.”
“We’re not feeding our child any sugar.”
“We’re not allowing any television.”
“I’m never going to give our baby an iPad.”
“We’re going to use only cloth diapers.”
…and on and on. As it was said to me, when I voiced some of my own lofty goals, “Yah, good luck with that.”
Listen, it’s human nature to want to evolve and do things better than our parents and past generations. The world has changed and certain things that once worked way back when might not be as effective today. And all of those above statements make sense.
Breastfeeding has been scientifically proven to be better than formula. Organic foods are generally healthier than non-organic foods. Excessive television and computer or iPad use can cause a myriad of issues from harming vision to anti-social behavior. Cloth diapers keep disposable diapers out of landfills. No one really argues with these things.
But planning to live in any sort of extreme is likely a set up for failure. Especially, if you’ve never had or raised a baby before. This is much like planning a wedding. We hear about these lessons learned, but only truly understand them until we fully experience them.
There are so many elements to life as a new parent that are not on our radar until we’re in the thick of it. Suddenly, the 40 cloth diapers are creating an extraordinary amount of laundry. Breast milk flow isn’t cooperating and two years sadly seems unrealistic. One day, baby loves green veggies. The next day, only chicken nuggets will do. Baby’s been crying for hours when he suddenly catches a glimpse of the television and is mesmerized into silence. Silence. Need I say more?
All of our goals and aspirations usually come from a good place. But don’t underestimate the power of your own survival instincts as you battle exhaustion, hormones, and the daily grind of parenting. Playing the martyr in the modern world usually leads to misery. Do you really want to be a miserable parent to your kids? I’m guessing…no.
Being realistic about our capabilities – and equally, the lack thereof – is just one major key to parenting. Maybe Attachment Parenting isn’t as sustainable as you once hoped. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean the baby is less loved. Seeing kids giggle when they enjoy a sweet treat once in a while, surprisingly, can fill a parent’s heart with joy. Serving jarred organic baby food can cut out about 20 minutes, when you’re not feeling to task that day.
So, failing miserably? No. Embrace this ability to cope, adjust and roll with the proverbial it. This is only just the beginning of the rollercoaster ride that is parenting. Enjoy It and Buckle Up!