Saturday, February 19, 2011

Squashing my fears and a-peeling to reason

If there’s one thing worse than mommy guilt, it’s mommy self-doubt. You’d think that feeding your children would be one of the most natural things in the world, but surprisingly for me, it’s been one of the most stressful parts of parenthood.

First, I had to come to terms that breastfeeding wasn’t working for us for all the reasons I have enumerated before. Definite guilt. But, at the same time, I had little doubt about how to mix the formula, and even though it was formula, rationally, I knew it was good for the babies. I did stress over bottle or tap water, the best way to wash and sterilize the bottles, and even the material the bottles are made of (BPA-free and contain no PVC, lead or phthalates). Yet, it all worked out, and we made bottles. Lots of them. And the babies grew.

Then it was time to start adding solids. This part was actually fairly easy. We went with organic jar food—a mix of veggies and fruits—and organic rice cereal and then oatmeal. There was only one day when I slightly freaked out when I read that the lids of these jars may contain BPA. At that point, I decided to stop reading the “safe mom” blogs for a while. After all, it wasn’t like I was letting them lick the jar lid. So, we continued on. And the babies grew some more.

But recently family starting suggesting that maybe they were ready for something more than pureed jar food. Why not just blend up some real food? Um. Where do you suppose they will get this real food? From their culinary-challenged mom?

The truth is I am not ready to taint my children with my still-less-than-perfect eating habits. Sure, we’re cooking at home more, but we are far from healthy. At least with the jar, I know what they are getting. I am scared to feed the babies my cooking. Big people food doesn’t come with the handy “stages” so that a new (and not so savvy) mom like me knows that this is the right food for them at this time. Plus, it comes in interesting combinations. I am a “basic” recipe type girl. Mixing stuff is scary.

And this is where I know I am being ridiculous. I can’t feed them from a jar forever. Furthermore, how am I ever going to feed these children for the next 18 years unless I learn to trust myself a bit more? Am I really so incompetent that I trust a big factory to mass produce my babies' food more than I trust myself? *Insert nod of shame here*

Where is this irrational mommy fear coming from?

I look at Emily and Drew, so pure and perfect. I don’t want to be the reason they develop unhealthy eating habits or some health issue that stems from a poor diet or accidental contamination. Somewhere deep down, I think that if I feed them all the right things, protect them from all the cooties, slather them with the safest lotions, buy them the safest toys, and hold them tight enough, long enough, that I will be able to ensure that they stay healthy, safe, and unharmed--forever. I want my bubble around them to be impenetrable.

Tonight I staged an intervention and decided to confront my fears and make my first homemade baby food. My mom and I went to Whole Foods and bought the basics, and I came home and cooked, chopped, and froze butternut squash, apples, summer squash, and sweet potatoes.

Three hours later, I have 18 containers tucked away in the freezer. Another hour later, I have a clean kitchen again. I have to hope that practice makes perfect or at least, practice means it won’t take 4 hours, five bowls, three spoons, and a roll of paper towels next time.

Will they like it? If I had to place a wager, I’d say Emily will love; Drew will tolerate it. And both will grow some more.

First attempt at butternut squash--one of Drew's favorites

Steaming some squash and boiling the apples

The aftermath...

The finished product


Jane said...

I love reading your blog, but it's people like you who trigger the MOST enormous guilt-trip on us regular folk!

Love ya...mean it!

championm2000 said...

Haha, Jane. If people only knew how crazy I really am :-)

PS-The follow-up to the cooking story is that I overfilled the containers, so when the food cooled, the tops popped open, and now all my food is ruined :-(

Maybe I should stick to jar food...

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