‘Wow, your mommy is nicer than I am to my Benjamin’ a friend comments to my toddler as our trolleys pass each other in the queue. Ella, my feisty 15-month old, is sitting in the trolley, cramming MSG-filled Ghost Pops into her mouth as fast as she can. ‘Oh, normally I don’t give her stuff like this, she’s just irritated and exhausted and I need to keep her quiet till we are done’, I stammer, trying to justify my gross misdemeanor. Walking to car, I am furious. Furious with myself for being so contrite, and more furious with my friend for her comment.
Here’s the thing. I know that MSG and sugar and processed food are the evil incarnate. I know better than to let Ella eat chocolate ice cream. I know that homemade baby food is the answer. I know that organic oats is the ideal breakfast. And that chocolate biscuits for breakfast are really not ideal.
I don’t intentionally sabotage my daughter’s nutritional development. Yet just a few weeks ago, you could find me feeding her sugar laden yogurt for every meal. And when we go to a party, and there are chips she wants, I give them to her. I also feed her grapes, and cheese, and lamb and homemade stew. But sometimes, cereal is a meal too.
So, dear friend. A word of advice. I really don’t want to hear about your mother-nature down-to -earth goddess like abilities. I am happy for you, I really am. I even admire you and hope one day to have the discipline and organization to be like you. I am glad that your children are sleep trained at six months and never get a bottle at 2am out of desperation. I am impressed that you don’t turn to junk food for five minutes of peace and quiet.
But I am not you. For me, mothering is hard. Excruciatingly hard. And when my off-the-chart teeny refuses to eat but yogurt for weeks on end, I am not going to fight. And if she sees me eating a biscuit and wants one, I am not going to fight. Because I choose my battles. She has never tasted soft drinks. But my sanity is equally as important as organic sugar-free homemade nutrition. And if Ghost Pops once in a while preserve both our emotional well-beings till nap time, then G-d bless the inventors.
So do us struggling mothers all a favour and don’t volunteer information about your excellence. If we happen to ask, then by all means share and share some more. Otherwise, don’t comment on what mothers are not as wholesome as you do. Don’t share any information of bravado, your hearty and healthful homemade smoothies or your homemade stone ground bread. If you feel the need for an award for your mothering choices, feel free to give them to yourself – silently. Because for some of us, mothering is hard enough without the superior mothers flaunting their brilliance for all to see.
P.S Before I had Ella, I was very guilty of this. I was very quick to criticize others inappropriate parenting techniques. So this tirade is as much against myself as anyone else.