This post is sponsored by Similac. I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own.
In the early haze of new motherhood I was overwhelmed with guilt over not being able to breastfeed. While the two mammary glands attached to my chest look promising, the truth is they are milk duds. For whatever reason mine simply don’t work despite every reasonable effort I made to become the sole food provider for both of my babies. I would plan feedings so I wouldn’t have to pull a bottle out in public. The shame I felt whenever I mixed formula in front of a breastfeeding mom was overwhelming. I always felt like I had to justify myself, tell everyone how hard I tried because I was absolutely sure everyone was judging me.
Turns out I’m the only one who really cared.
You want to know how often I worry about breastfeeding now?
You want to know how much guilt I’ve felt over the last ten years for not being able to breastfeed?
The only time I even think about breastfeeding anymore is when Addie brings home a 100% on some test she didn’t even study for. Back in 2004 a few hard core lactivists made me believe that if I didn’t exclusively breastfeed Addie, her health and intelligence would be forever compromised. Yet every time Addie dazzles me yet again with her smarts and kindness I want to hold her up like Simba on Pride Rock and yell “LOOK! IT DIDN’T MATTER HOW I FED HER! SHE’S WONDERFUL!” to all the mothers struggling with their own decisions on how to best feed their babies.
Two weeks ago Vivi told me she hated me. Last week she found a tube of lipstick and finger-painted an entire wall bright pink. The last two mornings she has located a permanent marker and colored her entire body blue, as well as written her name on several walls. Someone needs to tell her if she’s going to commit such heinous acts she shouldn’t sign her name or leave evidence all over her own body. I have a hard time believing she’d be any less of a toad had her milk come from my body and not a can.
Here’s what I’ve learned about kids — some days they will eat Brussels sprouts, quinoa, and kale without complaint. Other days the only nourishment you will be able to coerce into their little bodies consists of grape skins and a handful of marshmallows. Some days they will be obedient little angels and other days it’s as though hellfire is pouring forth from every pore of their being. Some days they will get along with their siblings from sunup to sundown while other days you will feel like a referee at a bare knuckled boxing match.
It’s not like you didn’t try.
You’re just working with what you’ve been given. We all are. As long as we’re all doing the best we can each day (and some days are better than others), nothing we deal with is a direct result of what we fed our babies on the day they were born or how we have loved them every day up until now.
I accept you. Hopefully you can accept me and my wildly inappropriate toddler.
(P.S. Does anyone know how to get petroleum jelly out of a stuffed bunny?)