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,



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  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. 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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    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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    • 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. 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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