Mother Knows Best


Dear Mom,

I owe you an apology. A big one. It turns out the bits of advice you dispensed when Sam was a baby weren’t the out-of-fashion mutterings from The School of Lazy/Evil Motherhood like I might have implied at the time. (Yeah, sorry about that.)

What were you right about? Um, pretty much everything. Starting with . . .

Formula is Freedom Sent From the Heavens

Having nursed Sam then Rebecca for close to a year, then Elissa for “only” six months, I can now admit that you weren’t out of your mind for pronouncing this priceless truism: there is nothing wrong with formula. It was good enough for you and your sisters, you said when I complained about the soreness involved in breastfeeding, and the pumping, and the intricate system of storing milk. I realize now that I was a complete moron when I equated formula to liquid neglect. Turns out the stuff might be the best scientific advancement ever. Bryan left out the bottle overnight? Who cares!? There’s more where that came from. Plenty more! Canisters and canisters on shelves all over town. I think formula is so freaking fantastic that I wish I could still depend on it for my kids’ nutrition. Because while nursing can be time-consuming and stressful, providing balanced meals all day long is SO much worse. Bringing me to your next area of expertise . . .

Making Your Own Baby Food is a Colossal Waste of Time

Remember when Sam was about nine months old and I included you in one of my bi-weekly pureeing sessions? Remember how you couldn’t understand why I’d mess up my kitchen and make the house smell like broccoli for days when I could easily fill a grocery cart with handy jars? But they don’t sell jars of organic kale with lentils, I said, shocked that you’d want your grandson’s virgin palate destroyed by the treacherous empire of convenience foods. My child, I pronounced from my throne of self-righteousness, would not be the kind of kid who subsisted on macaroni and cheese after experiencing food in a pure, organic regimen. Ha! Well, guess what? Not only is he addicted to mac and cheese, but he’ll only eat a certain kind. You know the one—the same crap in a blue box that you let me eat as a kid. And little Elissa who was never offered homemade baby food a day in her life? She’s your only grandchild who loves vegetables. You were right: hours and hours of my life I’ll never get back.

You Seriously Need to Relax

This particular piece of advice covers the rest. After six years of your constant eye rolling, I’ve decided to give the overachieving motherhood act a rest. Because let’s face it, most of the tidbits you tell me about parenting put you squarely on my side and Bryan’s. You want us to have interests beyond the children, interest in each other, and—I finally get it—you don’t want your grandchildren raised in the upside-down funhouse-mirror version of childhood where the kids’ wants and needs are elevated to the point of insanity. Amen, Sister! We’re on the same side! Oh, and feel free to stop washing the kids’ sheets in Dreft whenever we visit.

With love and gratitude and deepest apologies,



The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. 1

    Allison says

    “you don’t want your grandchildren raised in the upside-down funhouse-mirror version of childhood where the kids’ wants and needs are elevated to the point of insanity. Amen, Sister!”


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  2. 2

    Julie says

    EXCEPT, that breastfeeding and making your own baby food is LIGHT YEARS cheaper. That’d by my only argument. I made my own baby food w/ my 2nd one, and I thought it was fun, and I felt good about doing it for him, but if $$ hadn’t been an issue, seriously… Gerber and I are close.

    When #2 was still way underweight @ 9 months, the Dr. gave me a canister of formula and said “Just try it.” I never looked back, mostly because he kept me stocked in free sample cans and I only ever had to buy one can myself. My kid gained weight and finally looked like a normal baby instead of a severely malnourished one. For him, the formula was better. Apparently all the calories from my breast milk went straight to my ass.

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    • 3

      janelle says

      agreed. formula would have ruined us financially with our twins, but we’re lucky, there were not feeding issues (malnutrition, reflux, what have you).

      however we supplemented with formula occasionally. if we didn’t have any “extra” breast milk in the freezer or if I wanted to have some cocktails and would have to pump and dump. nobody’s perfect, and mama needs to have a life too. :)

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  3. 4

    Betsy says

    It is all true.

    Strike one for experience!

    You try so hard to be the best mom the first time out, do everything right… and you end up miserable, whacked-out on stress and ready to commit yourself to an insane asylum just for the break. (Or maybe that was just me.)

    The twins pretty much took care of that right away for me. They hazed me into being less complicated, more relaxed and buying organic baby food, not making it as I had always planned.

    And you know what? They’re fine. And their younger brother is too.

    So’s Mom.

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  4. 5

    Pop says

    “You want us to have interests beyond the children, interest in each other, and—I finally get it—you don’t want your grandchildren raised in the upside-down funhouse-mirror version of childhood where the kids’ wants and needs are elevated to the point of insanity. Amen, Sister!”

    Well said! I really wish I heeded the advice of my mom when we had our first. My wife and I were completely neurotic and our daughter’s first 2 years of life were by the book (the myriad of parenting books we bought or borrowed). We may have hit all the major milestones when we should’ve hit them and our daughter never knew the evils of HFCS or other processed demon foods, but we were nervous wrecks!

    For our second, we’re making it a point to relax and we’re enjoying parenting a lot more. Ooops. The baby slept through a feeding and the wife’s boob is rock solid. Oh well. Oooops. We didn’t change the diaper promptly and the baby has diaper rash. Oh well.

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  5. 7

    From Belgium says

    Can we change moms? No seriously.
    Mine went batshit crazy when her first grandchild arrived. The kind yank-baby-from-boob-cuzz-you’re-doing-it-wrong-let-me-show-you kind of crazy. In which she was unfortunatly aided by my father and father in law. They where the all-knowing-child-raising-Gods.
    Many was the time I wanted to bludgeon them to death with a rusty poker.

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  6. 9

    Alexis Stein Tande says

    I was reading this LAUGHING OUT LOUD not even realizing that Nina was the author. Nina- you are a terrific, on-the-money author who just made my morning. Write more! Write more! Between you and Jill, I can’t even imagine the adventures you both have with 3 kids. You guys are both the best!


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  7. 11

    kalah says

    on the verge of having #2 and this was wonderful to read. totall boob/self-pureeing mom here and realizing there is no way in hell it will happen for #2 – and really, what was the point when i ask #1 what she wants for breakfast and she answers “mac n cheez” or “icecreeem” everyday. thanks for the reassurance! (now please get this baby out of me this minute!)

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    • 12

      Nina Badzin says

      Listen, it’s nice to have the experience of doing it both ways. Now you’ll never wonder, “Would my daughter eat arugula for lunch if I’d made all my own food.” ;)

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  8. 13

    LZ says

    When my first was born, I thought I was such an expert, and disregarded anything my mother said. Even when she agreed, I was sch a know it all that I had to expand on what she told me with my new found wisdom.
    Now, though we disagree and many things, I so wish I had listened to a few nuggets of wisdom…maybe I’d have kids that don’t expect a separate meal or expect to run around like maniacs when they should be in bed.
    Live and learn…great post!

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  9. 14

    Jill says

    My mother has the same dissmisive reactions to my “informed” parenting as I like to call it. But instead of thanking her, I wish she were a litle more supportive and not as judgemental about that way I’ve chosen to doing things because breastmilk over cow’s milk and organic purees over processed & preserved jarred food do make a difference in the developing mind and body (I’ll spare you the statistics). While it would certainly make my life easier to just buy the pre-made stuff, I can’t simply ignore the facts.

    Is it a matter of life and death, no. I wasn’t breastfed or fed organically and I’m…ok, bad example. But if I can offer healthier altermatives, a pat on the back instead of a roll of the eyes, would go a long way.

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    • 15

      Rebecca M. says

      I’m glad to see some sanity on this thread. To me, it’s not about trying to be an “overachieving mother.” It’s about making the right choices for my child, armed with the information that I have. And not putting money into the pockets of big pharma and big food if I don’t have to. And not contributing to the wasteful process of manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of processed foods and their containers. I, too, can’t ignore the facts.

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      • 16

        Rachel says

        I praise you for having enough energy to give a shit about supporting corporate greed. Because I don’t. You must be on some sort of super mother meth. I’m still trying to get past the period where I’m tripping over my feet every morning trying to make breakfast before I collapse on the couch in a puddle of overtired mom goo, and my kids are 3 and 5.

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      • 17

        Alisa says

        Thank you, Jill and Rebecca M. Well said. Like you, my politics and my interest in making decisions based on solid information about health and development didn’t fly out the door the second I had a baby (I’ve got 2, btw, ages 3 and 13, and if it makes a difference, I also work full time and run a small business). I choose to withhold as much of my money from big pharma and big food as possible, too, and for health reasons, I choose not to feed myself shit from a can most of a time, so it’s no surprise I’d choose the same for my kids. It really doesn’t take much effort at all–I’m not sure why people insist that eating unprocessed foods requires being a “super mom.” It kind of boggles my mind.

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  10. 19

    gigi says

    Well said! Well said! I think our lives are spent realizing that in many cases, our parents did know what they were talking about. of course, soon, the roles will be reversed and we’ll be the dumb ones when our kids start having kids!

    I had to laugh at the making of the baby food. We tried to be all healthy and cheap and stuff. Until we got the wooden spoon stuck in the blender and our homemade babyfood carrots had a bit too much fiber in them. :) Back to Gerber.

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    • 20

      Nina Badzin says

      Exactly! When you see how much water you have to add to some foods to make it smooth enough for the babies, you stop feeling annoyed that water is always an ingredient in jarred food!

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      • 21

        Rebecca M. says

        But see, you don’t have to add all that water and make runny purees for babies over 6 months. If you wait until 6 months to start solids, as recommended by ALL major health organizations, then you don’t even have to do purees — you can give baby soft chunks of food and let them at it. This is known as “baby led weaning” and is HUGELY easier for mom, not to mention you avoid having to convince baby to eat actual food later after he’s grown accustomed to watery crap on a spoon.

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        • 22

          Cassie says

          Why is it that “crunchy granola” moms want everyone to be “crunchy granola” people? You don’t hear people who use formula and feeding their kids beanie weinies telling you to do that too. I’m so sick of formula being demonized, and now carrots and water?? Really? And I’m equally sick of this “I can do it, why can’t you?” attitude. Some people don’t stay at home cooking and waiting to serve their husbands when they get home. I have a full time job and three children (2 of them being toddler twins). So go ahead and make your own babyfood and breastfeed-that’s wonderful, but don’t make me out to be selfish because I don’t.

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          • 23

            Jenn says

            I guess if I assumed that my OB/GYN giving me formula at my 12 week appointment, getting loads of it in the mail, and many caring friends and family members telling struggling BFing moms to chill out and just use formula isn’t “telling you do to that too” then would be able to agree.

            While I agree that these responses are beyond out of control and people are crazy judgmental, it is silly to think that only “crunchy granola” moms are out there doing the judging and advising. Bring a few people on to tell us about Jesus, heaven/hell, circumcision, etc., and you will see the same counterproductive, unhelpful lectures from both sides.

            I am pretty sure that your description of us stay at home moms drives that point right home.

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  11. 24

    Anne Brown says

    I always thought nursing was more painful than childbirth itself so formula and I go waaaaaaay back! Very funny post! I think I’ll get going on my own apology letter to my mother. I wonder if Hallmark has a card for that.

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  12. 25

    Nina Badzin says

    Thanks for all the comments so far everyone! I love reading them, and I had so much fun looking back and poking a little fun at myself. Believe me, I left out WAY MORE than I included. I was really a maniac. Now . . . how to keep reading comments while my kids and I are at the pool today. I’ll have to wait until later! Motherhood! ;) Nina

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  13. 26

    Jennifer K says

    Love this post! So true! How come hindsight is 20/20? That Kathy must know a thing or two… PS – I am thinking about switching to target brand diapers—do I dare become the only lady on the Upper East Side not using Pampers Swaddlers??

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  14. 27

    Kathy Sackheim says

    Apology accepted. A wonderful letter. Could I be your mother without dispensing just a little advice? Years ago a professional told me there were no perfect mothers. He said the goal is to be a “good enough mother”. I found those words comforting as you and your sisters were growing up. I am so happy you have learned to relax. You are doing a great job with your children.

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  15. 29

    C @ Kid Things says

    As someone who formula fed her first and then breastfed her younger two, while there are pros to breastfeeding of course, formula feeding is SO MUCH EASIER. If breastmilk wasn’t free, and if my kids didn’t refuse a bottle, I probably would have been much happier to switch.

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    • 32

      DiPaola Momma says

      AMEN! Take that you 0rganic-clothes-wearing-size-zero-chewing-your-kid’s-hormone-free-meat-for-him-super-soccer moms! (envious much? yeah a bit.. ha ha)

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