I looked at myself in the mirror. My curly hair was making a new definition of “frizzy”. My eyes were black underneath. My love handles were sticking out under my shirt–a new friend I didn’t gain until post baby.
Then, the last straw for myself was when I walked out of the bathroom to discover that I had put my shorts on inside out at 6:30 am that morning. And while I was wearing work-out shorts, they were the kind with the spanks-type undershorts thingie. It’s not like it was an easy mistake.
I looked beat. I felt beat.
My son, who is at the end of a developmental leap, was clinging to my legs and screaming.
I did the horribly unthinkable act of putting Barney on. I stuck him in front of it. I let him sink into the TV show like I sink into The Bachelorette every Monday night. I watched as he crawled over to the TV, pulled up on the console, and stared at the show with his eyes less than a foot from the screen.
He was gone. Lost in “A-huh-huh-huh-huhs” and catchy kid tunes.
I needed to clean the kitchen. I needed to clean the bathroom. My laundry was screaming at me in it’s pile of reeking mildewed towels. My coffee was cold.
I sighed a sigh of relief and sat my butt down on my couch with my phone and scrolled through Facebook.
For a moment, I glanced up at his tiny frame drooling at the screen and felt guilt. Thinking back to my pregnancy with him, I was sitting with a group of ladies when one of them pipped up with, “Just don’t ever let him watch a screen. Ever. It’ll mess him up for life.” She proceeded to list study after study about how terrible it was for them. I had, at the time, made a commitment to not ever let him watch TV. Because his IQ was more important than me needing a break.
I was obviously naive and completely underestimated the reality of exhaustion and the power of a screen.
That fell through when he was three months old and screaming in his car seat. A full episode of Elmo’s World on YouTube saved the car ride. It became my go-to babysitter in the car.
Seriously, guys, my son will scream until I am forced to pull over because he’s choking himself. A screen is a significantly better alternative. Surly screaming can’t be good for his IQ either.
But that transferred from a car ride thing, to an OMG I NEED A BREAK RIGHT NOW thing. So this morning’s Barney is pretty much a normal happening around here, especially if I need 10 or 20 minutes to get something done. Or just sit on the couch with Facebook.
I’m probably frying his brain. I thought this morning.
But then I realized something; I needed a friggin break. And if I didn’t get it, my compassion level would quickly dwindle into I Don’t Care Anymore Land and I would be on the verge of You Can Just Cry and I’m Going to Walk Away, which isn’t how I like to parent.
I much prefer to give him my energy, read him books, hang out with him and celebrate him, and keep him content with my energy. I like to practice attachment parenting, because I’m just crunchy enough that it’s my thing. It’s how I roll. It’s how I continue to roll despite sometimes exhaustion. And it’s why I use TV to help me balance out that constant need to BE THERE. Because it’ll give me a few minutes of peace without worry that he’s into the cat litter (or water bowl).
And after I started thinking, I realized something. My choices are actually done in his best interest. And in mine. We’re a team, he and I, and sometimes I need the break to recoup. Or get All The Things done.
I make other decisions that would give some moms a heart attack. Like co-sleeping–which many can’t even imagine doing.
But it isn’t about what choices I make that others think are right or wrong. And it isn’t about the things you do that I couldn’t even imagine doing. It’s about what works for us. It’s about how intense my child can be, and how much I need the break to continue to parent the best way I know how.
The whole point in this post is to stop hating on moms. They’ve got it rough and need support, especially when they feel guilty for doing something like stuffing their 11 month old in front of the tube for a few minutes of peace.
The second point in this post is for the moms that feel guilty, which is pretty much everyone. I see you doing your best. And honestly, if your child is still alive and smiling every now and then, you’re doing pretty darn awesome. For real. Because parenting is hard.