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I'm Not Sorry

This is a post from the beginning of my pregnancy, which I am re-posting now to remind myself and everyone else working on a big project--whether physical or mental--to keep on rockin' it as best you can, and don't feel bad about letting the unimportant stuff slide.

I am continuing to detox and clean house to prepare for Baby G. It's slow going (as is my writing), because this pregnancy business is really draining my energy. But you know what? I'm not sorry. Because one of the things I'm throwing in the trash this spring cleaning season is unnecessary guilt. 

And I invite you all, procreators, procrastinators, and all others, to join me! Let's start with our blogs. There are three categories which seem to comprise the bulk of the posts I see in my blogroll:

1.) useful, informative, or thought-provoking advice for writing or living well;
2.) amusing or touching vignettes that provide fun or profound diversions;
and 3.) posts bemoaning how hard it is to blog or apologizing that the blogger doesn't post more or better.

For the record: If I follow your blog or have it listed in my sidebar there, I think you're awesome. I value what you write. You inform me, inspire me, or just make me giggle, but for whatever reason, I like to keep tabs on you. HOWEVER, let's be frank. No matter how much I love your content, I am not going to be personally offended if you take a week off of blogging. I am not sitting at my computer desk gnawing on my knuckles, waiting desperately for your next installment. In fact, I will probably not notice if you take a couple of weeks in between posts. I'd rather you wait until you have something interesting to say than have to scroll through loads of OMG so sorry I've been absent or this blogging thing is so hard posts to get to something useful or amusing. If it's really that hard, it's probably because you have a life. I assume you have a life. I assume you have real-life family, friends, jobs, manuscripts, and other obligations that are sometimes much cooler or much more important than entertaining/informing me with your posts--as much as I enjoy them. And I hope you all extend the same courtesy to me. So I will not be wasting my time by apologizing, ever, for not blogging more or for letting days lapse between posts.

The same goes for comments. If you do not return my every comment on your blog, I will not feel hurt. I love it when you comment. I love it when you give me awards and invite me to contests and send me surveys. These things are fun. But they are not my life's biggest priorities. If I'm busy or overloaded with requests, I might not participate in your thing or pay back your comments like some kind of online popularity tokens. This isn't Farmville, yo. (Likewise, I do not play Facebook games. They do not amuse me. This is not to say I'm a total internet snob. I furtively read It's just my mental junk food of choice.)

Blogging should be about networking and keeping informed. The fun parts are only fun until they feel like added obligations. I follow you because I like your content, not because I expect you to be an active member of my fan club. So don't feel bad if I comment on your blog and you visit mine and find you have nothing to say about Aveeno lotion (or whatever). It's cool. I love you anyway. I share stuff that I think is interesting or useful, but I don't expect everyone to relate with every one of my posts.

Another thing I've noticed: Lots of bloggers/writers are parents. I am just now working on becoming a mom, and already I am in awe of how you parents can write novels, blog, take care of kids, and sometimes work jobs too. You are amazing. I don't even know how you can do all these things, so I certainly won't get pissed if you don't post regularly or return my comments.

ALSO, I am getting hints about the enormous amount of guilt parents carry about all sorts of things--especially mothers. I'm not looking forward to feeling anxious or guilty about every decision I make, so I'm trying to head off this phenomenon. Of course, I'm already doing my best to be healthy and responsible while I'm pregnant, but seriously, nobody can be perfect. And I think some parents have inordinate fears about things that will harm their children. I've been posting about stuff like toxins in products and insidious messages hidden in kids' cartoon movies, but I think I should point out that although these are real concerns of mine, I think that for the most part, it's more important to focus on doing good things than avoiding bad things.

What I mean by that is that healthy bodies and minds are more fit to handle the "junk" in life. A child who eats a well-rounded, healthy diet is not going to drop dead if he eats too much Halloween candy. A child who grows up in a nurturing, stimulating, loving home is not going to become a racist by watching Disney's The Fox and the Hound or court date rape later in life because she watched Sleeping Beauty. A child who is intelligent and well-socialized is not going to be made stupid by watching dumb shows on TV. Remember Peewee Herman's talking boogers? I knew a bunch of kids whose parents forbade them to watch such idiotic entertainment, but I seriously doubt that it caused anyone brain damage or mental instability.

Feeding your babies Mountain Dew in a bottle and letting Flava of Love reruns babysit them all day is one thing. Being an imperfect parent who does your best is... well, the best possible scenario.

I hope I remember this as I enter the world of working and writing motherhood.

Starr C yonder in Suburbtopia has a fascinating Feminist Mama Reader posted on her blog. From there, I followed a link to another of her posts called The Case Against Bottle-Feeding (which includes a link to an article called "The Case Against Breastfeeding"). Controversial, yes, but very educational.

Here's what I take from all this. Most parents care deeply about the well being of their children. Yes, there are parents who are outright abusive or neglectful. There are parents who never wanted their kids. It's a sad truth. But most parents love their kids more than anything else and feel guilty about not attaining perfection. That kind of guilt is not useful. All we can do is do our best and follow our instincts about what is best for our particular children, families, and selves. No child is alike, and no parent our household is alike. What's good for one is not necessarily best for all others.

So whether you've brought children into the world or decided not to, don't be sorry! Either way, you are probably making your life and the world better by your personal choice.

If you breastfeed and people get snotty about having to see it, don't be sorry! Feeding your baby is more important than protecting the sensibilities of prudes.

If you bottle feed because you can't breastfeed, or because your career does not accommodate it, or for any other important reason, don't be sorry! You're not ruining your child's life or chances of bonding with you, and the overall results of your decision may be best for your family. In isolation, healthy breastmilk is clearly (though not drastically--there's a difference) better than formula for nutrition and maternal health. However, it may NOT be in your and your family's best interest to exclusively breastfeed for an extended period of time when all other life factors are taken into account.

If you stay at home to raise your kids, don't be sorry! Child rearing is an undervalued but sacred, essential job.

If you work to support your family, don't be sorry! You are doing your best for all of you, and in fact, children who bond with many adults (like day care providers or grandparents) tend to develop even better than children who bond only with one or two parents.

So whether you're parenting, writing a novel, or undertaking any other underappreciated but enormous task, ditch the perfectionist guilt. Quit wasting time apologizing. Just move forward, learning from mistakes and setbacks and doing the best you can. If you love the task, you can't go very wrong. And if you don't... well, don't have kids. Don't write a book. That's OK too. Forgive yourself your trespasses, get your priorities straight, and judge not others for their own precious, personal choices. Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt, and save your energy for making the best decisions you can.

When you do the best you can, there should be no room for guilt. I'm not sorry for shirking less important responsibilities to benefit what matters most, and neither should you! Moms, dads, writers, and working folks, stay informed. Care for yourself and your family and your work with love. Do your imperfect best.

And don't be sorry.


  1. Hey, awesome post. I'm definitely not sorry. This is a good attitude, and I'm glad you're putting this out there. It really irritates me to read everyone's apologies for not blogging more or commenting or whatever. I've done it in the past, but not for a long time now because I'm not sorry. I care about my friends and the people I interact with online, but it's the ones that don't need apologies like that will keep coming back anyway. :)

  2. Guilt can be so destructive! And I agree, all we can do is our best, and none of us is going to be perfect. As long as we're trying to do our best (at parenting, blogging, whatever), we probably won't go too far astray.

  3. Great post. I especially agree about people taking time off of blogging and then writing the "I'm so sorry I have been busy yadda yadda" post. I want to say," oh really, I haden't noticed you were gone"....glad that someone else feels the same.
    Oh yeah, and I am totally writing this comment because I feel obligated to. :)

  4. FINALLY someone has written a post like this! I agree with everything you've written, and am now following you. Also, if you don't post every single day I will erect an altar in your honor and pray that you are, in fact, alive and well ; )

    Thanks for this post, you rocks it.

  5. Here, here! Well said and thank you for the shout out! I agree with you on the apologizing for not blogging issue. I've made a promise to only blog when I have something insightful to share or say, not because it's a chore! When it becomes a chore, then it's time to quit.

    I like to blog since I like the sense of community and it can often provide a nice respite. Sure, I'm a Mom, a wife, a worker but I'm also an individual not tied to one category. I blog about what I know: my kids, crafts, my takes on feminism, family issues...and whatever crazy thing I find on the internet that is just aching to be discussed. I always wanted to be a writer and blogging allows me to sorta have my cake and eat it too (I get to write without being in poverty?). ;)

    I literally laughed out loud over this comment, "Feeding your babies Mountain Dew in a bottle and letting Flava of Love reruns babysit them all day is one thing." Classic!

  6. Hi, all of you superwomen! I'm glad this rant amused you. I was hoping not to offend anyone.

    Not that I'd be sorry about it. :P

    Inannastar, I will be sure NOT to post every day. The more people who erect altars to my well being, the better. :D

    Starr C: Thanks for doing what you do. Your posts are serious brain food.

  7. Great post. I tend to think that guilt is singularly destructive to creativity. Creativity needs openness and freedom to bloom; guilt tends to bind us in little boxes. I particularly got a kick out of your revelation that you don't feel offended when a blog you read regularly takes a week off. Bloggers (myself included, no doubt) tend to think that the world revolves around them, but the truth is most readers probably don't even *notice* when we take a week off!

  8. Your blog? Makes me so happy. And that's all I have time to write right now.

    You are awesome!



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