Thursday, November 11, 2010


Many of my readers have encouraged me to leave guilt behind.  There's no question they are absolutely, unequivocally right, and when I look at it in a logical moment, I am proud of what I've done for my baby.  Part of the reason I write this blog, though, is to acknowledge that new moms often face powerful emotions that defy logic and influence decisions.  Guilt, in particular, arises out of the perceived trade-off between one's self-interest and one's child's interests.  Before I was a parent, for the most part, I was the only one who experienced the consequences of my actions, good or bad.  But as a parent, there's someone else--someone whose future is in your hands, and someone who you love more than you ever loved anything before or ever thought you could--who experiences them too.

This perceived trade-off permeates big decisions and trivial ones alike.  For example, do you feed your baby formula or breastfeed him despite serious inconvenience, difficulty, or pain?  Do you take a few moments for yourself while your toddler watches TV, or do you sit down to read him a book?  Do you take him to a playgroup even though you're not big on socializing with other parents?  Do you put him in a better school much further out of your way?  Do you dip into your retirement money to send him abroad to study? The happiest families are probably great at finding a balance of sacrifice and self-care, and finding solutions that are win-win for parent and child.

In this way, my experience with breastfeeding has been the ultimate crash course in parenting.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. Balance. It's hard I think for most new/first time moms because (I was one of them) I made EVERYTHING about my baby for months and months. But, it comes to a point where you DO need time for yourself, and I took it sometimes but felt sooo guilty. And time for being a couple, made me feel even more guilty that I was leaving him while BOTH parents went out. However, to be a great parent you also have to feel great-mentally and physically-so doing something for yourself is necessary. And there comes a time when we realize some of the things we obsess over (no tv until 2 years old! we're told) don't really matter as much in the long run. My opinion is that it's more "child-focused" in the early months and years, and then branches out to family balance and then personal balance. It's a lot of learning, this parenting stuff! I think you're a very smart mother! Sam's very lucky.