I have a Mommy confession. I think I’ve made a mistake, and hopefully its reversible, but I wonder if some damage has already been done.
It occurred to me somewhere around 4am that when I’m in public with Sunny I feed her to keep her from throwing a tantrum. It’s not intentional and it has never been conscious, but I realized it while out with my friend Courtney yesterday.
We sat at Barnes and Noble with the babies and were discussing breast feeding and how its a great “go to” tactic when the baby is fussy. I was telling her how I was the queen of “just feed her” when I breast fed Sunny and after I stated that, that’s when the first flicker of my “light bulb moment” went off.
When Sunny was an infant she was the type of Breast feeder who nursed for 5-10 minutes at a time through out the entire day. She would never nurse for 30 minutes on each side. I can remember watching the clock, my cell phone, and the cable box counting down her minutes. As soon as we would ’round 4 minutes she’d simply stop and fall asleep. She’d wake up 10 minutes later ready for another snack; the other side. I swear I never got up off the couch for like, 3 months.
As Sunny got older we got on more of a schedule, but whenever we were out in public I had my “hooter hider” and I would breast feed her to calm her down, should a tear or outburst erupt. I felt like I was comforting her, and I am now very aware, as I was then, that I was feeding her for comfort and frankly if you were brand new to this world and didn’t know anything about anything I would suggest food to comfort you too.
My family is southern. I come from a long line of foodaholics. We eat, we dine, we snack ALL DAY LONG. In fact Sunny truly eats the same way I do. Snacking all day, rarely indulging in a plate of food. When I see a full plate of food I get sick. Even at dinner every night I make Matt a full plate and I eat off of a salad plate. I feed Sunny half of her portion and then give her the rest once her high chair has been cleared of bananas and pineapple and spaghetti.
In any case until yesterday I had no idea that I was comforting her in public with food. I mean we all joke that Sunny is a good eater, she is! She will eat almost anything you give her. She loves spicy thai food, adores curry and hummus, she’s awesome in that way! I love that she loves her meals and wants to taste everything I put in my mouth, but what I don’t want to do is force this child to eat in order to be quite. And I think that on some level that’s what I’ve been doing and I hate myself for it.
It’s not easy being a Mother, and you all know that. It is very difficult to watch your child cry, for any reason. As her Mother I want to fix the problem, have her avoid any feeling of discomfort. When she throws tantrums ( which are becoming more frequent) I sit on the floor next to her and rub her back or soothe her head. When we are in the car and she is screaming to get out, I roll down a window and call out to her as if the illusion of being out of the car will bring her comfort.
I have to get comfortable with her uncomfortably. I don’t know where to start, I don’t know how to start, but I’m going to have to start. If you see me in public and my daughter is swinging, screaming, kicking and I look as if there is nothing wrong at all just know that I am trying to help her understand her feelings and work through them without the use of food.
As I type this my baby is crying in her crib. She did not want a morning nap and she has thrown all 5 of her stuffed animals overboard from her crib. My fingers are shaking, my eyes are welling with tears, and my heart feels like I’ve been stabbed 100 times, BUT I am not offering her a bottle or a way out. I am instead going to vacuum the floors and return some emails. I am going to help her help herself and I am going to need the strength of God behind me to do so.
The crying has stopped, my blood pressure should be returning to normal in minute. Sigh.