It seems like pretty much every married female friend I have above the age of 25 is either currently pregnant, trying to get pregnant, just had a child or has had a child within the past two years. They all come from different places. Some are doctors, some are teachers, some don’t have a career at all. The only thing that seems to unite every single one of them is an over-riding sense of guilt. At a quick glance on Facebook at any given time I have friends questioning everything about their lives: their diet, the diet they feed their children, the music they listen to, whether they should begin/re-start cancer treatments or anti-depressants, how they should handle discipline, whether or not to breastfeed and for how long, the list is literally endless.
As a frequent practitioner of this same guilt I truly understand where they’re all coming from. I was that person who watched every single bite they ate while they were pregnant, took my vitamins every single day, gained the exact “right” amount of weight and did everything exactly by the book. My general rule for myself was that if, god forbid, something were to go wrong, I didn’t want to be able to blame myself. Well, something did go wrong, and unfortunately despite the fact that it was absolutely nothing I personally CHOSE, the thing that did go wrong had everything to do with me, specifically my genes. Obviously this was completely devastating to a control freak like me. But at the same time, it was oddly liberating because it taught me the cold hard truth that even when you make all the “right” choices, there are some things that are just out of your hands.
So it is from that background that I can pass on this advice today. Make the decisions you need to make, parent the way you want to parent and stop feeling guilty that you are somehow screwing up your child for all eternity simply because one night a week they eat chicken nuggets or watch Dora the Explorer or whatever. Chances are, even if you picked the other direction, you would be able to find SOMETHING to blame yourself for. So give yourself a break and stop feeling guilty. When it all comes down to it, in the end the only thing your child is truly going to remember and grow from is the amount of love you give them. If they know without a doubt that they are loved, that covers a lot of bases. The most messed up adults I know (myself included) are the people who can’t tell you for absolute certain that their parents loved them. Make sure you have this covered and the rest is just details 🙂
By the way, I expect that most of you will probably ignore this advice. Goodness knows, I probably would have. However in your moments of doubt, you can think back and remember that somebody out there gave you permission to cut yourself some slack.