I consider myself to be a mostly laid back mom. When Simon cries on a car ride, I usually sing along with his wails rather than fretting. When toys are strewn about I try to see the beauty in his creative play, rather than just a heinous mess. And when he is over-tired and at the end of his rope, I will give him yogurt for dinner and send him to bed rather than continuing to stress about making him eat the dinner I am frantically trying to complete.
However, maternal guilt and stress definitely do creep in on a regular basis. I still catch myself making things harder on myself than they need to be, or feeling really bad about taking the simpler road at times.
I recently expressed one of my mental struggles to a friend. I told her that at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, many days, I start getting an unsettled anxiety feeling coupled with a crash in energy. I explained that I sometimes find myself wishing I could just bring Simon and myself into the living room and put on a TV show for a half an hour until the feeling subsided.
“Well, why can’t you?” She asked me.
“Well…because I already let him watch TV in the morning when I have coffee.” I explained.
She went on to reassure me that another 30 minutes of television would not ruin my child, and that no one would have the right to judge me for it. I immediately knew she was right, but still found myself hesitating, thinking “I have already failed my original intention that he would not see any TV before age 2. If we watch TV in the afternoon I am copping out.”
The next day though, that time of day hit, and I again felt that mix of anxiety, stress and exhaustion. I allowed myself to go ahead and put on an episode of Blue’s Clues. I relaxed on the couch and snuggled my boy for 20 minutes. When the show was over, we got up and went to play. I had a renewed sense of energy, and my mood was much more patient and relaxed. I had to admit, the time out had done us good.
Now, I do think there are other ways we could achieve this without the use of a screen. However, I also need to learn to let go of my fears that the Mommy Police will come to my house and issue me a fine for using modern media in my home with a small child. The truth is, not all Mommies will judge me negatively for this, and those that do probably have parenting insecurities of their own. The important thing is that I am aware of the choices I am making, and am still trying to make a conscious effort to impose healthy limits. I still don’t let Simon watch TV with commercials. (Only Netflix, PBS, or DVD.) I am very choosy about which shows he sees, and what he might pick up from them. I still try to limit the time he spends with television on, telling him when he has had enough. And some days, I don’t even feel the need for an afternoon time out.
However, I am realizing that even if he did watch more TV, that would be up to Jeramy and I. No one else should be able to make me feel bad about it. I don’t go around judging other people’s parenting choices, so I should let go of my worry that others might be doing so to me.
Sometimes it is hard when you have a blog, and details of your daily life become public, to relax about what you are sharing. The things we eat, the way we keep house, our daily activities; all can become blog fodder. I do try to keep my blog to the happier side of our lives, because I want this to be a space apart from my daily frustrations. I would hate to come here and gripe every day. In my attempt at cultivating peace here, I also stress a bit about what things I talk about, because I am opening our family life up to scrutiny.
Today I am letting go of my fear of being judged. I know I am doing a good job, and if someone disagrees that is their business. Even more important, I am letting go of the pressures I unnecessarily place on myself. Parenthood is too precious to spend it being uptight.