Childrearing

I Was A Sanctimommy Because I Was Compensating For The Prestigious Job I Had Just Walked Away From

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Parenting became my new reality.  I spent time commenting online and sharing my new found expertise with anyone who would listen.  I was determined to be an overachiever in something that is better done with a small amount of detachment.  It was intense for everyone and it was all my own insecurity driving the sanctimommy bus.

With every parenting “truth” I spouted – “breast is best!” “schedule is king!!” or “parenting is the hardest most important job of all time in all the world!!” I felt more confident in my choices – not really for my son, but for me.  If I became a “parenting expert” I wouldn’t feel so bad about having thrown away the career I worked so hard to build. I would no longer miss the respect I had at work, because I could earn it by proving I knew everything about parenting philosophies and explaining how I had made all the right moves.  In short, being a sanctimommy.

Concerned friends suggested I get a babysitter, even just an hour or two a week to have time for myself.  I knew they were right. I knew a little space would benefit me and my son.  But the mental hurdle was too big to face.  It felt hypocritical to spend money I no longer earned to pass time away from my “most important project.”  Instead, I became a sanctimommy martyr.  It was never a goal of mine, but I didn’t feel I had a lot of options.  Just like the choice to stay home with him — it was mostly because the alternative of 70-80 hour weeks was not a pill I could swallow.  It wasn’t really what I wanted, but I painted myself in a corner.  Recipe for resentment, anyone?

It turns out that judgy is not a great look for anyone.  I came off bitchy, closed-minded and, overall, rather pathetic in my new life.  I can imagine what my friends and family were thinking:  this is what she thinks is the most important thing in life now?  Seventh Generation Diapers, making mushed carrots and monthly milestones reached on or before schedule?  Yikes. 

I am thankful to admit I am a recovering sanctimommy.  I am proud to say that since having a second child I have never once said — or even thought — “you only have one, just wait until you have two!” I have learned not to judge anyone for their choices.  I might not agree with your point of view (I said I was open-minded, not an angel), but I respect your right to parent as you see fit.  I still have a strong position on many parenting topics, but I don’t pretend they are the only or the best options.  I see very clearly that we are all just trying to do the best we can.

I have gotten over myself and spend a little money on a babysitter so I can once again pee in peace.  I now understand the benefits of balance.  My freelance writing gives me an outlet and a voice that lowers both my blood pressure and my sanctimoniousness (and when it creeps back in, the comments keep me in check).  I admit that having work to do, deadlines to meet, and income of my own, makes me a much better parent.  I have perspective that every parenting choice isn’t life or death.  Most importantly, I have a small dose of space between me and my children that is healthier for all of us.

I feel extremely lucky to have unearthed a balance that works for me, because it wasn’t easy for the first couple of years.  And I know there aren’t a lot of flexible choices out there for moms.  I always remind myself of that when I encounter a sanctimommy online or at the park.  I usually just click to the next article or smile and move on, cutting her a little slack.  She’s probably wrestling her own demons, just like the rest of us.

(photo: kuban_girl / Shutterstock)

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