There are lots of perks to be being a mommy today. We have drive-thru restaurants, Dr. Google on our phones, and so many social media outlets we are never truly alone. However, there are downfalls as well. My kids want fast food at every intersection because fries. I have self-diagnosed some pretty scary viruses that were actually just allergies. Social media has created new standards that are impossible to live up to.
Moms spend months before a child’s birthday looking at Pinterest party boards, one-upping the other moms who threw similar parties, and counting the likes on Facebook pictures. Moms must do smash cake photo sessions, thematic party activities, spreads that equal a rehearsal dinner, and gorgeous photography of every detail.
The new norm at every first birthday party is for the tiny tot to sit in a highchair with a 3-layer, 6-inch cake in front of her/him. We ooh and aah over their chubby fingers diving into that brightly colored vanilla frosting waiting for whatever gleeful sugary smile may emerge.
But what happens when we opt out of this new mommy tradition?
What happens when we HAVE to?
My son was born five weeks premature and by some miracle he did not have to go to the NICU. He was a ripe six pounds seven ounces and went home with us two days later. (At the time, I didn’t know how truly lucky we were.)
Our journey was still no easy feat and we struggled with food from day one. He never took to bottles and I solely nursed him for thirteen months. We tried nipples, bottles, and pumping, cold, warm, fresh, and day old expressed milk. With baby-led weaning, we tried fresh food, homemade food, pouches, jars, and various stages of food.
At ten months, he was barely past stage one baby food.
My friends would excitedly hound me on birthday party themes and smash cake ideas.
Had I scheduled his smash cake photo session? Nope.
I began to feel like such a failure that I was not partaking in this tradition. However, I knew there was no way he would be eating solid food in just two short months. We struggled daily with foods. He would gag and vomit if he ate anything with the texture past applesauce. It was expensive, tiring, and scary. Dr. Google gave me no support so we sought advice from a real doctor. He was diagnosed with oral aversion and we were told we had a rough but approachable road ahead. Eating and swallowing food would take time, diligence, and patience. We were up to the challenge.
We worked through that season of life one meal at a time, day by day.
He has always done things on his own terms when he is ready.
At his first birthday-he was not ready. I fed him pouches at the party and answered questions as they came.
What foods does he like?
Why won’t he eat?
Why don’t you just give him some chips?
Surely he’ll eat that, right?
I received a lot of judgment for “babying” my baby. I would cry because I couldn’t take one more meal that became vomit all over the high chair. I felt so inadequate that we weren’t normal.
But normal is a relative and unfair term. Each child grows and develops differently. Each child takes new milestones in stride and passes them when ready. All children have varying needs, which must be met by their caregivers.
He now loves all (well almost all) food. He enjoys helping and is eager to be in charge of his meals-just as he has been since we brought him home.
*This post is not meant to diagnose any child with similar texture or sensory aversions. If your child is experiencing difficulties with food, please seek additional assistance from your child’s primary care physician.