Mountains into Molehills: Letter to My Rookie Parent Self
~By Kim Strickland, pilot & writer at A City Mom
Do you ever wish you could go back in time for a do-over? I do. I imagine this urge is pretty universal, especially when it comes to being a parent. We all screw up. We all wish we could take certain things back. Since time travel still hasn’t gone beyond science fiction (although my son Kyle says he’s working on it), I’ve decided on something better: self-forgiveness for the rookie parent I used to be.
So many of my parenting mountains—things I did or said and wish I could take back—have become molehills with the passage of time. All three of my children are teenagers now, and if I say so myself, they’re damn great ones. I haven’t had to bail one of them out of jail yet (knock on wood). But I remember all the things I spent way too much time worrying and stewing about when they were babies or toddlers or even in utero. As I look back on all these issues now, I think, “Why on earth did I spend so much time worrying about that when I could have been watching American Idol?”
I’m not here to dispense advice, just a little comfort. My hope is for all the newbie parents out there to see, way earlier than I did, that a Twinkie instead of a fruit juice–sweetened cookie will not cause Junior to be held back a grade, that the glass of champagne you had when you were pregnant did not cause your son to insist on holding his pencil the “wrong way,” and the fact that you supplemented breast-feeding with formula is not the reason your daughter is in love with Justin Bieber.
So pull on a pair of flannel jammie pants and your favorite sweatshirt and snuggle in while I tell you some stories of my rookie-parent, child-rearing mountains that the perspective of time has turned into molehills. And I realize the jury is still out with my kids. But with a little luck, and maybe Google Ad Sense, I’ll have the wherewithal to pay the guy at Johnny’s Bail Bonds—you know, if I were to worry about ever needing to do something like that.
Dear Rookie Mom Kim,
Before the birth of your twin sons, you were accosted—I mean approached—by La Leche League. Determined to do what was best for your newborn sons, you were going to breastfeed them exclusively. Until you spoke with your pediatrician.
Even at 6 pounds each, the boys were underweight based on their skull circumference. In order to catch up, your pediatrician advised supplementing breast milk with formula at every feeding. There you were, totally exhausted from an emergency C-section and with newborn twins, torn between the conflicting advice of two experts.
You chose to follow the advice of the pediatrician and supplemented. And then proceeded to feel guilty and humiliated by La Leche Lady. Then you worried. A lot. Would the formula stunt their growth, make them overweight, or cause pink fur to grow out of their ears? (You’d read all the What to Expect books, so you believed almost anything in your exhausted state.)
That was you then. And here’s me now—telling you to knock it off. Your sons, both of them, are 6 foot 3 inches tall. They get excellent grades. They’re not overweight. They can push ice cream sundaes away when they’re full. They didn’t suffer from anything more than the average amount of childhood sniffles and fevers. Their rooms, however, are a mess.
Several years afterward, I found out from the pediatrician that she had recommended supplementing as much for me as for the boys. “It would have exhausted you,” she said. “Feeding them would have been your entire life. You needed to get yourself healthy.” A good pediatrician always has your back too.
The boys doubled their birth weight at nine weeks. To accomplish that on breast milk alone, they would have had to be strapped to my chest 24/7, and that thought alone makes my boobs itch.
Back then, I tore myself up because I was unable to exclusively breastfeed, though all that worrying accomplished nothing. So forget about it, Rookie Mom Kim. This one turns out OK.
Very Truly Yours,
About Kim Strickland
When not writing, speaking, or attending literary events, Kim Strickland is flying as a First Officer on a Boeing 767 and jetting off to Europe or South America. You can read more of Kim’s wonderful work at ChicagoNow.