17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How DO You Deal With Mom-Guilt, Dammit?!

(Sorry about the mild swearing, but at least I didn't use the other words that came to mind!)

Today I began spiraling into depression when criticized for holding my baby "too much." I've been told by concerned in-laws that my 11-month old son doesn't crawl yet because I've "held him too much." My mother remarked that, well, you can't do anything without holding him because he's "trained to be held."
Well dammit, this pisses me off because since he was a newborn I've tried to put him down as much as possible! I'd LOVE to put him down more!! My dream since February 2005 has been to take a daily shower like a normal person, for Heaven's sake. I try to do as much housework as I can, do something for myself once in a while. (Although I've given up on ever getting a decent bit of sleep.)

He often does play on the floor alone, but I pick him up if his cries escalate into more than just fussing. What am I supposed to do, leave him on the floor and let the poor helpless baby cry until he pukes? Am I supposed to force him to have "tummy time" when he's wailing desperately and turning purple?!

Some people make it sound so easy: "Oh, I just put him down, he cries/fusses a bit, then sleeps all night," or, "I let each of my kids have time on the floor and they all crawled by 5 or 6 months."

Well, I've tended to pick him up when he cries so I wouldn't feel guilty for being a cruel, neglectful mother. Now I'm told I've done him a disservice by responding to his cries. How can I not feel like it's my fault that he needs physical therapy now to catch up on some gross motor skills, like crawling?

At least he can breakdance, which not all 11-month babies can do!


  • Indigo didn't crawl for a year. She scooted everywhere on her little butt. It was pretty cute, actually. Then one day she got up and walked.

    Crawling is overrated. Two of my three have more or less skipped it.

    Oh, and the Mormon parenting guilt trips are par for the course. You need to come up with a few good smartass replies to shut up the busybodies.

    Some possible replies for "You hold your baby too much" might include "but it's the best way to keep him away from all the rat poison on the floor." Or perhaps "I don't want him to grow up afraid of heights." You can probably do better than those if you give it a little thought -- it's 1 a.m. and I'm taking a quick sanity break when I should be doing class prep.

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 1/18/2006 12:47:00 AM  

  • I did not expect that we would ever be described as "edgy", nor did I expect "sanity" to be associated with us either. What a surprise this blogging has been....all around.

    LeeAnn, I too have known a bunch of babies that skipped traditional crawling altogether. My babies have been pretty much textbook, both crawling at 9 months. A child-less friend once told me that skipping crawling is really bad (she was more specific) but I have been googling and see NOTHING that supports that. Most websites say that babies learn at their own pace and in their own style. One technique they suggested often is having the baby crawl to a fave toy. For my baby #2 this was confetti on New Years Eve and subsequently any and all paper. But it took her about 4 weeks to put it all together and get to that point.
    And FYI My DH did not WALK until he was 18 months, I cannot imagine he crawled at 9 if that was the case. His mother also held him a lot.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/18/2006 04:55:00 AM  

  • Don't worry about it- every baby is different, and sometimes in-laws or your mom forgets what it was like having a little baby. You certainly don't need someone guilt tripping you- motherhood is full of enough guilt without someone else piling it on!

    My first son got help a whole lot more than the next baby, and with #3 on the way, I wonder if I will just put her on the floor and wait for her to start walking in about a year. #1 was a barfer too, so letting him 'cry it out' always resulted in a big, nasty mess- and unless you have had a trick barfer, others just can't understand how much you don't want to clean it up- again!

    He'll crawl, and then walk, and then run, too, by golly. Can you think of any kids who went off to kindergarten sitting on mom's hip? Me neither! Trust yourself and your feel for what your baby needs- he is yours for a reason! Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 1/18/2006 05:20:00 AM  

  • I'm just going to answer your question at the top.

    You don't. It sucks. It never goes away. Well, maybe when you're 90.

    My youngest is 19, my oldest 36 and I still constantly second guess myself.

    You're doing just fine.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 1/18/2006 06:11:00 AM  

  • With two kids who pretty much skipped crawling, we've been told all about the possible negative consequences. Apparently, there are some studies somewhere that suggest that skipping crawling is related to later dyslexia. Since dyslexia runs in the family _anyway_, I guess we're screwed. I don't think that those problems hit us, though. Sullivan is a phenomenal reader and writer. Kace is on the lower end of his peer group, but nothing alarming. And Indigo is shaping up like Sullivan. So I don't think we've seen any negative consequences.

    Still, we're told (regularly) that they exist. Yet another thing to add to the parenting-guilt list, I suppose . . .
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 1/18/2006 08:27:00 AM  

  • Screw the guilt. My #1 had PT and OT for gross motor skills. I've learned with crying to sleep issues and when to feed issues that you do what's best for YOU and YOUR baby. Screw everyone elses guilt trips!! I've been loving baby #3 because I'm so much more relaxed and do what's best for US--not those other one-sided books and parents with too much criticism. I could talk on this soap box for a LONG time--so I better stop now!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 1/18/2006 08:38:00 AM  

  • You should hand your screaming baby over to the people who are telling you not to hold him and say, "Well, here you go, then. I'm off to Starbucks!"

    I'll meet you there.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 1/18/2006 10:06:00 AM  

  • A few things i have tried to do is limit my time spent with people who dont support my mothering habits. I do whatever feels comfortable for me (leaving my son screaming his head off is NOT one of these). I only consult books when he is ill (not for every little thing) and coming up with subtle ways to tell people off always helps. I have also read that children who develop healthy attatchments when they are children will grow to be extremely independent. (Dr. Sears) So i dont think holding him or picking him up when he is crying is going to ruin him. And I agree with Tracy...all kids develop at thier own pace, hes going to walk eventually, just tell your family to be patient and let you be the parent.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 1/18/2006 12:49:00 PM  

  • My mom thought I held my baby too much as well. Then when I would put the baby down she thought maybe she was malnourished, because no healthy child cries like that. I basically can't get it right. Ever!
    She called me the other day and asked if I was reading to my kids enough. She was "worried" about that.
    So instead of getting really angry (I used to do that)I have started asking her about uncomfortable topics when she broaches the subject of my "less than perfect parenting" style. It usually goes something like this.. (Mom) " I am really concerned that Julia isn't reading by now, are you spending enough time with her?"(Julia is 3) (Me) "Mom how often are you and dad intimate? Are you spending enough time with him?"
    I know that is a really horrible thing to say to your mother, but I always feel better. I think she is understanding how it feels to be under a microscope. The comments have been tapering off. Not gone but definitely tapering.
    posted by Blogger Abby at 1/18/2006 02:19:00 PM  

  • I appreciate all these comments -- I'm glad to know other mothers go through this. Good smartass comebacks are always nice -- we need some humor, dang-it.
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 1/18/2006 05:02:00 PM  

  • Okay, I officially love you guys guts. I was the only person who cussed around here and now I feel much better. Thank you.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 1/18/2006 05:12:00 PM  

  • Abby, I nearly blew soda out of my nose reading your comment. SO STINKIN' FUNNY. My mom is so passive-agressive, so subtle, that it's difficult to do the "comeback" since there isn't really anything to come back to. So I just practice deep breathing, nod a lot, and then immediately wipe the conversation from my mind as soon as we're done. That's on a good day of course. On a bad day I just get really grouchy...
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/18/2006 05:18:00 PM  

  • Don't get me wrong, my mom is really great, I just can't take the inadequate mother line of conversation. I feel like parenting is hard enough without unsolicited negative feedback from people. It is so nice to know that everyone gets weird comments; maybe I am not the only one with a three year old that can't read.
    posted by Blogger Abby at 1/18/2006 05:47:00 PM  

  • I feel just fine with "mild" cussing -- I'm proud to be a J. Golden Kimball type of Mormon!
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 1/18/2006 07:28:00 PM  

  • Sometimes 'dammit' so totally the right thing to say! Not that I want my four year old spouting it or anything, but really...

    My three year old should be READING?? Holy Cow, I really am behind times! I thought the pre-K years were for imagination and fun and mudpies and dirt and trucks and dress-ups- but maybe that's just at my house? Nah...!

    Heather- I did hand screaming baby off to my Visiting Teacher once, and after about half an hour, she conceded that maybe it wasn't me. The sweetest part was I overheard her at church telling people about how my baby really was inconsolable... er...maybe that's not such a good thing, but at least no one was blaming MY parenting anymore for my super-fussy #2!

    The fact that you all are out here, talking to other moms about things that concern you about your kids, shows what GOOD moms you all are. So Hooray for you!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 1/18/2006 09:26:00 PM  

  • Abby, you cracked me up,too. That is how my mind works as well.

    Actually, my daughter asked me that question and she ended up with way too much information. I was just mortified that she asked, but then we talked.

    Personally, I don't even want to think she has a sex life.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 1/19/2006 06:16:00 AM  

  • My family doesn't do this, but I have a friend who does. Basically, she thought my middle daughter wouldn't go to anyone else because I held her all the time and she was breastfed (never mind that my oldest daughter was also held a lot and breastfed, but was independent from day 1). She wouldn't come out and say it, so I couldn't really make any comebacks (incidentally, this girlfriend has some of the most out-of-control kids ever). It was frustrating.

    I say ignore it. For every busybody who blames you for holding your baby "too much," there will be three more who think you don't do enough.

    Also, my son didn't walk (or talk) until he was nearly 18 months. He's fine now, he was just not very motivated. I am a believer in speech/play therapy, though. It's a fun time for your child, and developing skills makes them feel so proud of themselves. I have no doubt my son would have caught up just fine anyway, but the extra motivation was good in his case, and if there had been a problem, the earlier the intervention, the better.
    posted by Blogger Allison at 1/19/2006 11:05:00 AM  

  • your baby will crawl when he does, and that's it. I held my kids ALL the time, and they crawled at 7 months. It's temperament and physical coodination/strength and likely other factors, too. Trust me, when he wants to crawl there'll be no stopping him.

    I hear ya on wanting a regular shower. Hang in there, LeeAnn.
    posted by Blogger mindy at 1/19/2006 10:21:00 PM  

  • Both of my sons "army crawled". Luckily, their dad is in the Army, so I had something witty to tell people when they mentioned that my kids didn't 'really' crawl.
    When they tell you to pack your bag for the hospital, they really mean to say "Pack your bags, we're going on a guilt trip". Let's face it, we are all poor mothers and we will NEVER do anything perfectly. But I kind of like my kids a little screwed up, how about you? ;)
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 1/21/2006 01:48:00 PM  

  • I know the purpose of this blog is more for young moms, but for what it's worth here's my two cents...
    I have 5 kids, a daughter and four sons. Two of them are married now and one is engaged. When your kids get old enough to have some perspective on how they were raised and the ability to articulate it- what you find out is that you can never hold them or love them too much. You find out that the things you agonized and lost sleep over- wondering if you were doing things right or if you were ruining them forever- are often the things they don't even remember. And the things they put on what my daughter kindly calls her "never forgive you for" list are things you didn't even know you were doing.
    So don't worry about what anyone else thinks about "too much" holding or not enough crawling, and do what feels right to you. And always err on the side of more loving, more holding, more playing with.
    posted by Blogger C Jones at 1/22/2006 06:21:00 PM  

  • c jones--

    I am so glad that you can add some much needed perspective on the mothering life. I hope you stick around, putting up with us amateurs and keep the comments coming!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/22/2006 07:32:00 PM  

  • C Jones, this blog is for anyone willing to put up with us long enough to read it! I for one appreciate your comment and perspective. Thank you.

    My sister always jokes about how my mom was a bad mom because she never made layer cakes (always sheet cakes) so I think what you said about the "never forgive you" list is so true!
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/22/2006 07:35:00 PM  

  • Ooooh carrie beat me to it. Darn. :-)
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/22/2006 07:36:00 PM  

  • I have two children and if I have learned one thing it is that time goes by too fast. There is such a short time where a simple hug or kiss will calm all their fears or make the tears stop. I know all too well that soon I won't be able to do that with a simple hug or kiss, so I enjoy the moment and the fact that I can meet their needs so easily right now.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 1/23/2006 07:45:00 AM  

  • Leann, you are the expert on your your baby and are the most qualified and best mother for him. Don't let anyone guilt you into feeling otherwise. I have found that kids reach milestones and stages indepentently of what you do, when they are ready for the next step they just do it, whether you held him or not. I have also found that my kids are very independent and secure and I attribute that to always being there for them when they need me. They feel confident that when they go off on their own I will be there when they come back. This can have its drawbacks of course, like the whole leaving the house when I am in the shower thing . . . but I'll take the ups whith the downs.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 1/23/2006 02:02:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home