When you’re a first-time mom, every decision you make for your new baby seems like the most important one in the world. You stress over which diapers to use, breastfeeding, breast pumps, formula, and even small things like which bath soap to use. You don’t have the benefit of experience or total confidence that you aren’t completely screwing this thing up, so you worry. Then one day the baby stops being a baby and all of those worries magically disappear.
I was fully embroiled in the high stress world of online parenting when my first child was a baby. I was desperate to breastfeed, but it didn’t work out and I felt like a failure as a result. I believed every personal anecdote and bogus study about the irreparable harm I was doing my child by switching to formula. The same thing happened when I stopped using cloth diapers, and then again when we started solids and I didn’t have time to make everything homemade.
Now that child is almost four and I can honestly say none of it matters. Even better, she has a sibling — an infant sibling — and watching my daughter grow into a healthy, happy child has made me a way more confident parent the second time around. I know now that I was never doing as badly as I thought I was and I no longer stress about public opinion or what the better-than-me internet moms have to say. I’ve got no reason to worry.
Parenting seems like the most stressful, scariest thing in the world, and it can be in so many ways. We do ourselves a disservice, though, when we succumb to the unnecessary pressure to parent for others or to do it the way someone else is doing it. The truth of the matter is all those decisions that seem so big and so important are actually pretty small. All of that guilt ends up being over things that are fairly insignificant.
You have to remember that just by nature of worrying whether or not you’re a good parent, you already are one. You’re already giving the time and consideration your child needs to grow up healthy and great, and in a world where parenting seems more and more competitive with each passing year, that counts for something. One day that baby will be a kid, and it won’t matter if you used breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, homemade or jarred. All that will matter is that you did your best and made it work because a happy kid is the only stamp of approval you really need.