I cannot tell a lie. In my early years as a parent, I, too, was guilty of pridefully, boasting about how my first born child ate and loved avocado. I took at least fifteen photos of her eating it; the ripe green color on her cheeks contrasting with her reddish-toned hair. I sent the photos to my mother, my sister, my mother-in-law and then to my mother again. Then I did what any proud, first time mother does.
I shared it on facebook. My kid ate avocado! And I was a good mom. I know now that it had nothing to do with what it means to be a good mother. But I must be honest, it felt really comforting to feed my child the superfoods when they were young (peas, blueberries, spinach, avocado), even if they are distant memories now. I felt like I was setting a healthy path for them. My first certainly enjoyed them in all of their newness. She was 9 months old and like many infants she loved to color the area surrounding her high chair with her food. So while I cringed a little at the thought of cleaning the meal up, I allowed her to make those messes. That, my friends I now know is good mothering. Allowing her to explore the world around her. This is where my lesson for you begins. How can you as a parent stay focused and intentional about raising your children with so many outside pressures? How can you do this in a mindful way without anxiety? We can enjoy parenthood. Avocado is a great choice for a first food and I often recommend it to the families I work with nearly everyday. But having a child who eats it or any other healthy food does not make you the incredible mother that you are. It is just one of the many moving parts. As we parent over the years, we are so much more than any one part. Besides, it is not up to us whether they readily accept these healthy foods. Ultimately, it resides in the temperaments of our children. It is true that we can always strive to be encouraging about teaching healthy habits. It is our responsibility to do this. We need to strive for healthy habits early on because our influence is all that they have in the beginning. Just remember that our parenting success does not solely rest on any one accomplishment nor on any single avocado. We as parents have so much to offer our children. Insight and values extending from our successes and failures will surface if we remove some of the anxiety around what we think is the right thing to do. What are “good” parents expected to do and what does “good” parenting look like? Ten years of parenting and practicing pediatrics, four children later, and thousands of conversations with other parents and littles, I can assure you that good parenting has many faces. Allow yourself to have your own.