Ever since I was a little girl I had dreams of having a family. Growing up I played with dolls and pretended to be a Mom, in fact, a working Mom who juggled ever facet of life. When I was a little older I even watched my nephews on a regular basis. Later, I baby sat on the weekends and evenings and during summer holidays.
I continued to care for children throughout my college career, then made a career of it in fact by getting a master's in Education and in the end being the Head Mistress of a Nursery and Elementary School in Nigeria.
For years, I made friends with midwives and doulas, lived/worked/collaborated with organic farms, food coops, and environmental organizations. Working in Education I attended and even taught at conferences regarding the latest teaching method and parenting skills. I had this idea of how easy it is to actually to be that dream parent. You know the one I'm talking about, the kind that only feeds your kid organic food, who never turns on the TV, who makes all the food from scratch, etc. I stupidly blindly believed the utter crap and nonsense I was preaching until I had a kid of my own.
So along comes baby Naniya. She was born in Jersey and shortly after we moved to Brooklyn. I started working full time when she was six weeks old. But even before this, all those ideals and beliefs I had long been thrown out the window and I opened a new window. I call this window, "whatever works for you as Parent's window. " Lol.
I breastfed her until about 8 weeks. Around week 5 I had to start giving her formula as well because I couldn't supply enough milk. She was literally sucking me to death. It was painful and time consuming. The pump I got didn't work and I didn't at the time have access to more resources that I got later on, where I would have been able to pump probably had I had a better one. I was blessed because my Mother-in-law lived with us and she took care of Nani while I was at work. But my first two dreams of one breast feeding long term and staying home longer with my baby were dashed quickly when the start reality of NYC life set in.
It's funny because at the School I ran, parents kept telling me, "Oh, you just wait until you have kids of your own. " Lol. I've already used that line myself now. And now I truly get it. In fact, when my sister or friends tell me stories about their babies, I can totally call their bluff within seconds. In my yahoogroups I often feel guilty when some parents make comments and talk about how they raise their child in what was my "dream" way of raising Nani.
But over time I've gotten over the guilt. She's 16 months old now. She's strong, healthy, extremely happy, energetic, and I'm no longer embarrassed to admit, that yes, sometimes Elmo is her Babysitter, and sometimes Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. I'm no longer ashamed to admit Yes, she would bounce in her jumper chair for at least an hour up to 3 times a day. In fact, she's got amazing legs because she spent hours doing squats, lol. Also, I'm not ashamed to admit that at one point she stopped eating anything, like anything and would only drink milk. But you know what, at some point that stopped. She decided to start eating again and did so with vigor. I'm also not ashamed to admit that yes, on the average she goes to bed after 11pm and sleeps till 9am or later. I'm sure most of you reading this are in utter shock by my last words and want to call the authorities on us. Now before you all faint or start screaming, let me tell you why. Her father is a musician and an artist. Her mother is a writer and works as a consultant. Naniya has adapted to our schedule which also helps us be the ones to take care of her. She's not in day care. She's in our care. Naniya has never really been sick before. I can say this is because she's not been in daycare.
We still strive to feed her well rounded organic meals, make sure she has lots of activities which teach her things and burn her energy and give her a balanced life she needs. We are doing the best we can. And it may not be the dream way I thought I'd parent her but it is the best way I can for now.
So the moral to my story is this, please don't feel guilty for not being perfect but feel proud for trying as hard as you can to just be there and finding what works for you.