I have always dealt with guilty feelings concerning one thing or another in my life. I blame my mother for utilizing guilt as a tactic for coercing me into “choosing” to do what she wanted. And I feel guilty for naming this blame! But I have also come to realize that my mom was simply acting based on the way she was handled as a child. With this knowledge I can now consciously choose to break this particular guilt cycle in my parenting techniques.
Yay! One source of guilt felled and two more take it’s place like the fabled hydra of Herculean fame. How many mamas wake up in the wee hours with chores and whole laundry lists of shoulda, woulda, couldas? And just about the time you take a breath because you feel like you’ve done everything within your power to be a great mom, someone has to go and pop off their opinion that maybe you’re doing too much. Or maybe you’re a great mom at the expense of being a great partner, or business woman, or artist, or friend; whatever you excelled at prior to the life altering event of childbirth.
Is there a chance that American society will be more cohesive in regards to parenting practices in the future? Right now I feel pulled in a thousand different directions in my efforts to be a whole person, who happens to have added “mommy” to the many facets of her personality. Right now parenting feels like an uphill battle against the majority opinion. I have found like-minded allies, but for some reason those closest to me don’t realize how they undermine my confidence in my abilities.
France’s parenting skills have been in the spotlight recently thanks to the polite, well mannered results of consistent conditioning. I read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
when I was pregnant, which left me feeling a little disillusioned when my son didn’t begin sleeping through the night at 3 or 4 months. This is because we co-sleep, which I adore and would trade a brief midnight breastfeeding session for the traumatic “crying it out” technique any day of the week. I do however intend to implement a fairly French approach to meals. I have a rather broad palette and plan to introduce foods as we eat them, with an emphasis on veggies initially, rather than catering to immature taste buds.
Having the freedom to choose our personal parenting practices in this way is a bit of a blessing and a curse. If we all follow the general guideline of safety first and remember that anytime we point our finger at someone else we’ve got three fingers pointing back at ourselves, then maybe we can begin to practice the same compassion towards our parenting peers as we wish to cultivate in our own homes.