I am doing the best I can.


Last Friday was A's 15 month well-baby appointment and as I tend to do, I prepared a brief list of questions to pose to our pediatrician when the time came. As he was checking A's measurements, walking ability, verbal skills, etc., I casually asked the pediatrician when a good time was to completely wean A off of bottles (at the time, he was only taking one before bedtime; every other time was strictly cups).

The pediatrician looked me square in the eye and said "The perfect time was 3 months ago."

Now, I have to say -especially before I elaborate- that I absolutely love our pediatrician. I love that he has the most amazing bedside manner and is incredibly friendly & approachable. I love that he is a younger man so if/when the time comes, A will (hopefully) feel a little more comfortable with him about his body, both inside and out. I love that even though he succeeds at being diplomatic in dealing with the different families and types of parenting styles he observes, his advice tends to sway in the parenting & upbringing direction that J and I have decided we want to go anyway.

I know for certain that he did not intend to sound harsh, or critical, or downright mean. I have had established care with him for long enough to know that he is not that kind of person.

But I have to tell you: I can't remember the last time I was so embarrassed.

I immediately started burning red as he explained that babies using bottles after 12 months of age is strictly for comfort and not for necessity, that extended bottle use can oftentimes lead to the decay and misalignment of teeth, that going cold turkey with A is the best and quickest way to get the job done. These were all things that I knew by way of reading, research, and confirmation from friends & family; I even felt like I knew them inherently, somehow.

Still: we hadn't fully weaned A, and I was embarrassed about it.

He went on to advise that we literally throw A's bottles away as soon as we got home, so that there was no temptation to revert back to what was easy for us parents and comforting for A. I enthusiastically agreed, and tried to semi-backtrack by reiterating that he only took a bottle once a day, blah blah blah.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't stew all day over that particular 60 seconds in my life. I kept thinking about it, replaying it in my mind, beating myself up for asking the question in the first place because -obviously- I could have evaded severe embarrassment by keeping my mouth shut. I let it fester and fester, much longer than I ever should have.

But around 7 in the evening, it finally hit me:

There is nothing for me to be embarrassed about. I am his mom, and I am doing the best I can. 

I know: it's no big, Earth-shattering revelation. It's probably something that just about every parent has said at one point or another, whether out loud to someone else, or quietly in their heads.

But I have to tell you: it alleviated all tension and embarrassment and internal squirming for me to just realize that I haven't ruined his life by letting him drink from a bottle once a day for three months longer than experts say I "should have." I am a working mom, in school, juggling a husband, a son, and (sometimes nonexistent) free time, and I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I don't feel up to playing Legos or Hot Wheels with him on the floor of his bedroom every second that he's not sleeping or eating. I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I put season 1 of Oswald on our iPad, while I practice the pluperfect tense in Spanish right next to him. I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I cancel plans last-minute with friends and family because A isn't feeling well and just needs to cuddle with his mom on the couch all day while watching everything Pixar has produced. I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I attempt to read him mountains of books and introduce him to letter and number flashcards, but find that he would rather chew on said books and flashcards.

I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself every single second of every single day. I think I will continue to tell myself this, my new mantra, for as long as I am an active mother - which is probably everyday for the rest of my life.

I am not a failure. I am not doing everything "wrong." I am just giving it a shot and seeing if it sticks.

I am doing the best I can.