It started as a running joke between Emily and I, “You’re a Garbage Mom”. My husband is an accountant at a waste and recycling company so you can see where the humor stems from.
We coined the term and use it when the struggle of momhood is all too real. You all know what I’m talking about. Those days when the chaos snowballs and you turn your back for a second and your toddler is eating hair conditioner in the bathtub. Ya, I can be a garbage mom some days but I don’t consider it a put-down. It’s a way of laughing at the craziness and keeping things in perspective especially with social media being such a huge influence on us moms.
I wasn’t prepared for the judgement and competitiveness from other parents when I became a mom. For me it started in the hospital. I had my mind made up, I only wanted to pump when my son was born so my husband and I could both enjoy bottle feeding our son. And if it didn’t work out, so be it! Fed is best. Right?
Picture me, all alone in a hospital bed with a newborn baby. My husband went home to get some sleep and take care of our dog. I have gotten 2 hours of sleep in a 48 hour period. It’s 2 am and I ask the nurse for a bottle so I can feed my crying baby and get some much needed sleep. She looked me in my tired eyes that were starting to form tears and said, “Breast is best.” and left the room.
I will never forget those words and the sting I felt. I was no longer the doted-on mother-to-be. My wishes did not matter. I was simply a vessel, a source of food. Whether I got sleep or time to heal wasn’t an issue. That was my decision to make, not hers but that night she won. To this day, I wish I would have had the emotional strength to say something in that moment. But the exhaustion and hormonal crash I was riding suppressed it.
I ended up pumping for 2.5 months and I absolutely hated it but was so proud of myself and grateful I was able to give my baby what he needed for that time. I was so relieved the day I packed up my breast pump and put it in storage. I was never able to produce enough and always supplemented with formula. I got a bad case of mastitis when Oakes was 2 weeks old and that was the most painful and exhausting thing to go through while still trying to heal and take care of a newborn.. I was proud of the mountain I climbed and happy it was over and I have zero shame in admitting that. Pumping was so challenging, exhausting and alienating for me and Oakes needed a happy and healthy mama more than he needed a couple more ounces of breast milk.
I was shocked by the amount of people who asked or assumed that I breastfed my baby. Like it was any of their business… I also got the unwanted “advice” from those who were clearly judging me for giving it up and had no problem of their own producing a freezer full of supply while blindfolded and standing on one leg… There were also the mom’s who judged me for getting an epidural and vaccinating my son. What happened to this “mom tribe” I heard such great things about that was supposed to be full of supportive, non-judgmental women?
Well I am here for you! Breast fed or formula fed, epidural or all natural, cloth diapers or disposable. Our personal decisions shouldn’t prevent us from supporting each other. There is more than one right way to be a good parent.
Give advice when asked and be supportive always.
Maybe I’m a garbage mom because I didn’t breast feed. Maybe I’m a garbage mom because I didn’t get any photos of my son’s first Easter. Maybe I’m a garbage mom because I fed him hot dogs for dinner 3 nights in a row last week. But maybe I’m a good mom because my son is always fed. Maybe I’m a good mom because I spent a whole day with my family free of cell phones. Maybe I’m a good mom because I skimped on dinnertime so I could make sure everyone had clean clothes.
The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one. Be kind. We’re all garbage moms and we’re all good moms.