Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Idealist and Realist

with 11 comments

When Pudding was born, she was pure and perfect.  I was determined to keep her that way.  I would only nurse her, no chemical formula for my baby.  No pacifier, my baby wouldn’t have nipple confusion.  When she was ready, I fed her the organic, mostly locally-grown vegetarian diet that I ate, cooking all her meals from scratch.  She wore cloth diapers, and I used non-toxic cleaning products.  I’d encourage her to play with handmade wooden toys, and not allow her in the presence of TV or electronics.  I’d expose her to foreign languages and museums and art galleries.  She would always be perfect.

I was the Idealist Mother.  The Green Goddess of parenthood.  I never said it out loud, but I knew in return I’d have a perfect child.  I had no problem with other people doing those things with their children, but it wasn’t good enough for mine.  It was smug, it was judgmental, it is how I was.  Nothing could go wrong, if I did everything right.

But right didn’t seem to work.

The first thing I caved on was the pacifier.  There was no nipple confusion here, she knew exactly what they were, and needed them in her mouth the entire time.  Or she’d scream.  The entire time.  I was ashamed, but the pacifier stopped it.  She needed it, and I gave it to her.

I kept nursing her, but her appetite was insatiable, and it left me drained.  I finally got over myself, and tried formula, and the instant she put the bottle to her lips, she was allergic.  How could it be?  I’d done everything right!  Well, except for fixing her genetic predisposition.  My first taste of not having control.  I didn’t like it.

And then I was on a slope.

Once I started making food around her allergies, I lost my passion for cooking.  For a while I carried on making different meals for everybody, but then came the second pregnancy with complications.  When I began to crave chicken, I gave in and ate some for the first time in 10 years.  Then I discovered how easy it was to make one meal everyone could eat- there was no going back.  With more allergies, and a picky eater in Cubby, there are days I wish I could just get a break from the preparation and cooking and get fast food.  The old me would be horrified.

Though Pudding wore cloth diapers until she was potty trained, this Green Goddess failed with the second child.  When I observed that Pudding was more attracted to noisy cause-and-effect toys, we bought more and more of them.  Going to museums became difficult, a much rarer event.

And the languages.  I stopped trying to teach her French and Spanish.  She’d picked up a few phrases, and a couple of words in Luxembourgish and German, but she always using them in the exact same context.  Eventually I realized she was doing the same thing with English.  Our friends who allowed TV had kids who had better language skills than she did.  I eased up on that too.  When I saw how technology could help my child to learn, I embraced it.

Eventually this week I came to the decision to do something I vowed I’d never do- even after Pudding was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder- a medication trial for her ADHD and sleep disorder.  Putting something chemical into my pure, perfect baby would have been inconceivable to me a few years ago.  It is hard to let go of the idea that I’m failing her when I don’t match up to the ideals I’ve always held.  But those ideals just haven’t been able to deal with the reality of parenting.  Just like I require my kids to be more and more flexible, I’ve had to bend too.  And I’m certain that there’ll be more bending to come with time, as those ideals get left further behind, and my care becomes more pragmatic.

Perhaps not.

One thing that Realist and Idealist Mother have in common is that she wants the best for her kids.  She just finds different ways now.  Another thing?  My babies are still perfect in my eyes.  I’ll never change that much.  The Idealist in me keeps looking for ways to make this world a better place for my kids to live in, the Realist is helping them adapt instead.  I’m hoping that the two sides keep each other in balance, and show my kids that things are never black and white.  There is always another way to look at things.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

11 Responses

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  1. how I wish I could see you one last time before you left, so we could eat Wagamama and share these stories together. Your story is mine – from the cloth diapers to the homemade food to the mom who buys pancake mix out of a spray can now, because it’s just easier.

    akbutler

    June 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

  2. I’ve always lived in realist land, I think. At least on most things. There’s guilt in that. Lots of it. You wonder about the triggers, the genetic predispositions, and think….”if I had only gone organic….” At least from time to time when my crazy schedule allows me a moment of piteous wallowing. Most days I’m okay with it because life is what it is and you can only make the best of it. Though I am certain that ways in which to make it easier, more fluid for our kiddos is the balance that you find between the two moms, so perhaps I’ve more idealist in me than I think. 🙂

    Aimee Velazquez

    June 16, 2011 at 9:56 am

    • That was something my mother said after Pudding was diagnosed- at least you can console yourself you did everything “right”. But the guilt is always there, part of the territory. Every new study that comes out I wonder if I lived to close to a motorway, didn’t get enough sunlight, didn’t eat enough fish. I honestly believe, like the allergies, the answer lies in genetics, but it never fully assuages the guilt. Perhaps the guilt is part of the whole being in control thing that we find hard to shake as parents. Maybe it eases up in time. I hope so. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      June 16, 2011 at 11:06 am

  3. Ah, the dread of the unknown, as in, are we making the right decision unknown – is enormous. I am sure you made the decision to try the medications for Pudding out of love and the expertise of the “professionals”. I hope this great unknown will prove to be a great decision and just one more step into Puddings continued success!! We can only try to do the best for our children – it’s all we can do…… Good luck!

    joeysmommy

    June 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  4. mummy,

    your writing could have been a page torn right out of my life. i sometimes think God is saying to me, “now do you understand that you can’t control everything?” also, i have a masters in teaching-I never thought I would have the toddler who was smacking every kid in the Moms Club playgroups. I was miserable because I never left my son at the gym kids club (i didn’t want to stress him out) or let him watch tv (my child wouldn’t spend a moment not exercising his brain)…but I was miserable trying to be and do “perfect.”

    I guess our children show us life as it truly is more than we show them. We have preconceived ideas, and they take it just as it simply is.

    I think you are one real and true person. Your daughter is lucky to have such an enlightened mother.

    selina

    June 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! I’m the lucky one- I still have a lot to learn, and my kids are great teachers. There is a lot to be said for just taking life without those preconceived ideas about how it should be. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      June 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

  5. […] once upon a time, back when I was an Idealist, I’d have been horrified at such entrenched gender stereotypes as my children were […]

  6. […] thinking of having this made into a form so I can quickly email it out in future.  I became a realist, and developed a whole new vocabulary at The SPD Blogger Network.  Most of all, I wondered why my […]

  7. […] I was that insanely annoying woman who thought she knew best about parenting (before actual motherhood taught me all I needed to […]

  8. […] and a spectrum child seems far more likely to have atypical side effects.  I still want to be the idealist mother who could find another way.  But I know we made the right choice for our kid.  I know that she is […]


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