For a long time, I didn’t want children. Being responsible for the life of another human being terrified me. Plus, I had already carved out a career path that would be easier without children. Plus, it looked like I wasn’t going to meet “the one” anytime soon. Isn’t it funny how things change?
Fast forward a few years. I found myself happily married and pregnant with my first child. I was terrified. I was child of the seventies and had lived a carseat-less life, nourished on sodas and boxed macaroni and cheese. How was I supposed to care for a child, amid product recalls and health warnings? After a much thought, I decided on a natural childbirth.
So I studied the Bradley method, took breastfeeding classes, and watched what I ate. Complications at birth made all of those preparations meaningless. I was in a bed, helpless, as I watched someone else care for my newborn. Once home, I was unsure as to what I was supposed to do with this tiny human being. It took a while before I was able to enjoy him and feel close to him.
When I had my daughter a year later, I became hysterical when they told me she’d have to stay an extra night after I was released. I was so afraid that I’d lose that early bond like I had with my son.
I felt like such a failure at parenting. Breastfeeding. Lasted a month. Cloth diapering. Did only for a few months. Homemade baby food. Only one child received it. Co-sleeping only made me pray my child would go to sleep so I could.
Looking back, I realized I didn’t fail at natural parenting. I failed at perfection. But when I receive a sticky hug from a child, or an “I love you, Mommy,” I realize I haven’t failed at all.