I read this quote by Bunmi Laditan last year, and it really hit home:
How To Be A Mom in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two year apart for proper development also don’t forget the coconut oil.
How To Be A Mom In Literally Every Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.
(This is why we’re crazy.)
I love my children more than anything and becoming a mother has fulfilled me in so many ways. While motherhood is magnificent, beautiful and mind-blowingly magical, it is also excruciating, overpowering and frightening. I often say that the biggest downside to motherhood is that it is absolutely terrifying loving someone so much. With this overwhelming love, it’s impossible not to want to do your best to keep them safe. Since the very moment I knew of my children’s existence, I’ve been consumed with protecting them. Bunmi Laditan had it right, at least for me: Motherhood has made me a bit crazy! When trying to explain this all-consuming drive to protect them, these are some examples I had:
During pregnancy, I avoid sushi, deli meat, too much caffeine. I read the ingredients on every product I put on my skin. I’m extra cautious about the “dirty dozen” and avoiding pesticides on produce… because they can pass through the placenta. I count kicks. I learned all about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Once my babies were born, I followed every single recommendation from all my SIDS prevention research. We kept the house between 69 and 72 degrees. We always had a fan moving air in the room where they slept. I never allowed myself to fall asleep when a baby was on my chest. I forbid blankets and bumpers from the crib during the first year.
I did extensive research on car seat safety. We installed the car seat weeks ahead of time and had it professionally inspected by a certified car seat technician. I continue my car seat safety education because I know that even a tiny error can be fatal in a seemingly mild car accident. Everyone watching my kids knows all the important rules of car seat safety (proper chest clip placement, strap tightness, etc.) in case they had to put them in the car for any reason. (“Car seat safety is not a ‘parenting choice’, it’s a matter of physics and facts.”). We taught our daughter how to unbuckle her car seat and her brother’s, in case someone accidentally leaves them in a hot car.
Accidental deaths are all too common with little ones, so we anchored all furniture to the walls and gated off dangerous areas of the house.
As early as my oldest would understand, I taught her my cell phone number and how (and when) to call 911.
I breastfed as long as my supply would allow, pumping four times a day in the office and power pumping my way through inevitable supply dips. (I’m not suggesting that everyone else breastfeed. I’m just saying that breastfeeding was the best choice for me and my family, so I did what I could to fight through the struggles.) When they started solid foods, and while in our home, they didn’t have anything that wasn’t a real whole organic food until their first birthday, when I made them a homemade cake free of white flour and refined sugar. I do my best to get my toddlers to eat their beans and vegetables, and when they won’t, I hide them in their food. We give them brownies made of black beans and pudding made with avocado.
I worry about antibiotics and I worry about gut health. So, I independently do my own research on things like, when to introduce solids, what solids to start with, treatment for illness, infant medications, etc.
I buy air-purifying plants to help minimize their exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals found in all homes. We don’t wear shoes in the house because I don’t want them playing on a floor with e-coli and other disgusting bacteria and toxins found on the bottom of most shoes. But I do encourage them playing in dirt outside because of the health benefits of soil based organisms on gut health and immune system.
I talked to a firefighter about what I should do for fire safety in our home. We have fire extinguishers all over our house and fire escape ladders upstairs.
I am so scared about the day they get on that school bus and go off to the big school, without me there to protect them. It’s years from now, and I’ve already bookmarked links for bullet-proof jackets and backpacks.
I spend countless hours researching how to protect them even more. I do everything I can to protect them from physical harm, unsafe situations and emotional trauma, while also trying to foster independence, courage and confidence. I may sound crazy or over-anxious… but I don’t know how to do it any other way! I want them to live long, healthy and happy lives.