Losing at Natural Parenting, Why Sometimes that’s Winning, and Stay at Home Mom Envy

If raising a child without store-bought food or formula in the first year was a game, I’d be losing. In fact, it feels even more like losing because it’s not a game; it’s Emma’s well being, of course.

After weeks of making homemade baby food (sooooo maaannyyyy sweet potatoes), we finally broke down and bought some jarred food. And then we did it again. It wasn’t even organic. I read the ingredients list, water and green beans, and I thought, “What the hell?”

And then came the formula.

That was the biggest defeat. When Emma was born, I made a promise to try. I wanted to commit to 6 months but I at least wanted to try. When I realized that I was able, I decided I would settle for nothing less than 6 months. And I made it to 6 months by the skin of my teeth so I promised myself a year. But Emma started getting fussy. And unsettled. And upset. And very quickly I learned she was getting 20% of what she was used to getting.

It wasn’t the first dip but the first time it happened, I had options. Emma wasn’t waking up every 3 hours throughout the night so I set an alarm for 2:00am every night to catch up for daycare the next day. I spent a month or two praying for just enough to send to daycare in the morning. And I focused on manna in the dessert.

“This is a lesson in trust. God will provide enough for each day. No extras.”

But this time was different and I didn’t feel like there were any lessons behind it. When you’re getting up every 3 hours for a half hour each before a full workday, you can’t make up anything. There’s no sleeping when the baby sleeps while she’s at daycare and you’re at work. …Unless you could pump and sleep on a timer. Which would be amazing. I would be able to get back half of my night’s missed sleep that way…I’ve got to figure that out; it’s genius!

Bottom line, Emma was hungry and the non-organic food wasn’t giving her enough calories to make up her deficit so the first bottle of formula was mixed and I admitted defeat. It felt awful.

But it also felt like the first nice day after a hard winter when you get to finally open up the house. It felt a little bit like taking a slow, deep breath when panic threatens to tighten your chest. It felt like freedom and that feels like winning.

The problem with all-natural, organic parenting is that it’s not one size fits all. I wish it was. I told myself it was for me. That if anyone could do it, I could do it. It stole my joy. It focused me so much on food, and meal prep, and feedings that I could barely breathe. There’s a lot of pressure in motherhood and a good percentage of that is self-induced. I couldn’t keep up with the meal prep, the feedings, the pumping, the night wakings, and the 2:00am scramble. So we modified our plan and I am happy to say that although I feel like I’m losing, I’m winning.

I’m saving time in the mornings and at night with our new routine. That’s time that I get to spend with Emma instead of trying to cram in a million things before bed or it’s time in bed that I would’ve otherwise spent tip-toeing around the house after everyone went to sleep. It’s pretty great. But it also reminds me that I’m a working mom. That I have to cram a lot of things into little windows of time.

I envy moms who choose to stay at home. And I have a hard time when I see those posts about what a stay at home mom would be paid in salary for all of the jobs they do. Please stop posting things that say you would be paid $113,000 annually. It’s insulting and it certainly doesn’t garner any respect from working moms. Our lives aren’t any harder but they are different. Pretending that you are monetarily superior as a stay at home mom is like a working mom saying she’s much more organized and would run a much better home if she stayed at home.

So that’s life today. Non-organic jars and formula. Freedom and defeat. Mom envy and keeping it real.

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