As we anxiously await our Gotcha Day (THIS friday!), I'm feeling a little bogged down by the mothering war that swirls around me. I'm not one to get on my soapbox and let 'er rip, but here goes. STOP! Mom's please, just STOP. I commend everyone for doing research online, devouring books, joining mommy groups, pursuing lactation consultants, applying natural remedies, and using modern medicine...
Here's my issue. So many new mom's feel pressure to be the perfect mom. Guess what? We are not, and will never be perfect, whether we use cloth diapers or the nasty paper ones. (ps. I use paper). Whether we throw a Pinterest worthy first birthday, or order a cake from target.. The problem is when we post things on Facebook or go on a rant about all the terrible reasons we choose one style of parenting, we are pushing our style on others. If you don't think you're guilty of this, I guess stop reading, but the problem is... some scared, unconfident, worried, guilty feeling new momma is reading every single post, every single thread, and every parenting blog out there.. I feel there is a way to share the information without "putting down" the other types of choices. I'm not saying don't give your opinion, but what would mothering alongside people feel like if we simply encouraged one another? I've learned to "let go" of a lot of mothering choices I felt I'd make when the big day arrived. As I continue, please know, I am not bitter about my choices. I love adoption, and I love my son... this is a long hard road and I wouldn't change a single thing. I write this for, well, perspective. I'll tell you what my prayer is after this little speech!
1) I don't get to debate home/birthing center v. hospital birth. My choices look different... see Our Check Box Child for a few more details. As a mother about to do the single most difficult task required (I'm assuming this because of numerous birth stories I've experienced), I think it's important to be comfortable. If hospitals stress you out, you shouldn't be in one, and if relying on a hospital is the best path for you, book a room sister! But to take a stance and point across to the other side as a dangerous place to birth a child *both sides are guilty* you are robbing someone of the joy they have in their choice. From the moment you become an expectant parent, you're brain starts going crazy with all the choices you'll have to make. I didn't experience pregnancy insomnia, but I've lost several nights anticipating our parenting journey. It's stressful enough without the condescending comments and dirty looks when you announce your birth plan to those around you.
2) I cannot debate breast feeding. Some people who adopt choose to take things that allow you to lactate. I decided against this because I thought pumping myself full of hormones seemed like something that would make adoption much more difficult. I'm emotional enough, plus fertility hormones weren't a good experience for me (didn't really wanna relive that one). There are other reasons, but for the most part, it didn't feel right for me... so I guess I did debate it a bit, and chose "not to look into that option".. So, that leaves me with formula. I personally think breast feeding is beautiful. I'd love to experience the lows and highs of it someday. However, I don't believe formula was sent to us from the pit of hell. If you are a mom who chooses formula, great, if not, great. If you're a new mom who's been told by others you're baby may need formula or another supplement. You are NOT a failure!! It's a grieving process. One in which I have completed; however, it is not the end of the world. I say that lovingly, because I understand the feeling of loss associated with it. I wanted nothing more than to bond with my child being it's source of nutrition. When we adopted, I gave Carson his bottle the majority of the time. You can still bond with your child, get some where quiet, lay in your bed, give the bottle skin to skin.. there are ways. That's why I say it's not the end of the world. Some parenting choices are made for you.
Those are two major debates that have mothers every where drawing up arms to say one is SO much better than the other. For you, one is surely better than the other, for your friend... if she chooses the other, she didn't do it because she's selfish, weak, uneducated, or unloving. She's just going through this new chapter of her life the same way we all are: We are trying our best.
The other few I've noticed are these:
1. Co-sleeping/sleep training. I try to implement sleep training, which does involve a bit of "crying it out." I love and cuddle my son. It's important to me he sleep in his own bed, for his sake and mine! When he's sick, he sleeps on the couch with me, some nights we pull him in bed with us, I rock him, I read books... so on. He is the sweetest, happiest baby, AND he sleeps 11 hours at night in his own crib! Praise the Lord. He likes his own good bed. Also, I have dear friends who co-sleep.. their children are happy, healthy, well behaved, and lovely. I can have a conversation with them about my parenting style and we don't want to go to war. I just don't like people posting things like if you co-sleep your baby will DIE or if you let your baby cry and self soothe for 5 minutes it's equivalent to abuse and causes brain damage...?!?!? again, I say, STOP! How is that helping anyone?
2. Pacis- I'm guilty on this one. I'm not a huge fan of the paci and I'm sorry if I've made others feel guilty for letting their 2 year old or 4 year old have it.. It's a parenting choice and I'm going to let their parent decide what's best for them. My guess, they're not going to head off to college with their binky, so I'm going to encourage the parent when the time comes to "lose" the paci. Instead of making them feel like they "should have done it earlier"... I'll be there to listen when and if they decide to break them of their little buddy. Carson didn't even like his paci so we gave up on it about 4 months of age, if he'd loved it and it was the only way he slept, we'd definitely have kept going with it for who knows how long.
3. Diapering. I use paper. It's easy and I like them... I see ALL the benefits for the cloth diapers, and I believe in it.. I just don't implement it. Sorry. I also don't think anyone is crazy for using cloth. IF my child ever showed signs of irritation or I found out he was sick from wearing paper diapers, I'd switch. Cloth diapers save you money in the long run, I'd rather cut the budget elsewhere. This does not make me a bad or uncaring mother. It's a choice, I made it, I'm okay with it, let it go. I get the privilege to spend quality time with a sweet babe who wears cloth diapers.. I happily change them and comply with her mom's wishes. She also sometimes uses paper.. We are free to make the choice and we are free to change our mind. The end. Stop arguing about it.
4. Pediatrician/homeopathic: (vaccines v. delayed/no vaccines). This was a choice made for us. The state required us to prove he was current and up to date on all his shots. I had to pray over my fear because I do worry the vaccines will have a negative effect on him. However, I'm trusting the Lord is in control... I like the idea of delaying shots because it's so much at one time, but for people who are totally against or totally on board. Go for it! The research is out there... unless your friend is on the fence and really asking your opinion, there's not a need to discuss it. I'm actually glad to have this one made for me... I wasn't quite sure about this one, I feel torn... however, it's sad that I was glad I could say "we had to" to defend my parenting choice. Also, homeopathic absoutely works, I try to treat C at home naturally as plan A. But I like plan B too, I appreciate pediatricians. It's up to us to take information, from a nurse practitioner, doctor, midwife, etc., and make the best choice. We are the ones with our child day in and day out, we know if there's something "wrong".. sometimes our plan B becomes Plan A, and sometimes we have a Plan Z that comes out of nowhere. I know moms who are actually scared to take their child to a pediatrician because they're afraid of what their "friends" might think. Or they're afraid to make a change because of the dreaded "I told you so"... it's heartbreaking. I think it all comes down to fear. If you are peace with the decisions you make for you child, that is wonderful, but I feel a lot of it is out of fear. We vaccinate because we are fearful, we don't vaccinate because we are fearful of the vaccines.. we try and control every little thing, and truth is we are not in control. Again, I'm not saying to just go along with whatever.. but once a parenting choice is made, don't second guess every choice. Be confident in your choice in a way that doesn't belittle someone else.
5. Table Food. When to start? what to give? what not to give?... it's endless. We started Carson a little earlier because of his reflux. I was worried he wasn't keeping enough down, so we decided to start with baby food around 4.5 months. He seemed to enjoy it, he was happier in between bottles, and his reflux started getting a little better. I know mom's who don't introduce anything other than breast milk until age 1. If your baby is happy and healthy, thumbs up! I think what goes in our body is important, I'm just now starting to change my eating habits at age 26. :( I'm doing this to feel better and to start as an example now. How can I encourage C to eat his veggies if mom won't?!? I think it's great if you have time to make your own baby food and have the money to go completely organic and eat perfectly clean. I do not. I can promise you I will do the best I can to make sure Carson has a healthy balanced diet; however, I can also promise you we will have chicken nuggets and possibly a corn dog at some point. I'm trying not to be extreme, and I encourage you to find freedom in your choice. Just don't feel pressured by what others think. I love this little post A Letter to Young Mothers, she puts this whole conversation a little more eloquently- but I like her reference to cold spaghetti-o's for lunch! Driving this point home, we are all doing our best.
6. Stay at home/working mom. This one tears me up inside. I am so blessed to stay at home, it's what's best for our family. If our finances changed, we would make any and every change we could so that I could stay home, or even Jake could stay home. It's important to us. However, I know many mothers who choose to work outside the home. Let's encourage one in another in the role we have. As a stay at home mom, I am with Carson 24/7, I don't get a break from him. I love him, but let's not kid ourselves, we ALL need a break sometimes :). I don't have a lot of adult conversation. Sometimes I want to put on real clothes and get out of the house without dragging 2 bags, a stroller, and a little tyke around! I wouldn't trade it for the world! I also, would work and miss my son terribly if I had to. It's a choice I'm grateful I have. I realize working mothers have two extremely difficult jobs and also don't get a break, ever. Just because you are at work doesn't mean you get to shut of your mommy brain. You have to juggle motherhood, a full time job, a family, a home, and maybe a few pets ;). I think we are all heros. Motherhood is a beautiful, rewarding, sanctifying, scary, challenging, and amazing task.. we are all valuable, we are the mom, that doesn't change whether we work outside the home, or inside the home. We all work to be the best momma we can be.
Okay, if you've made it this far, great! Thanks for reading. I'm not trying to beat anyone down, I just get so saddened by certain conversations. I am confident in my choices, and I do differ from my local community in many ways. I try not to take it personally when others express their parenting choices, and I love hearing all the differences. However, personally, I'd like to encourage those around me to make the decision that's best for their family. I don't want them to do everything exactly as I think it should be done. I'd hate to push something on someone when they don't fully agree or understand.. it's setting them up for failure. Also, I'm not that smart, you're not that smart- we don't have everything figured out. If I pretend like I do, I'm being extremely hurtful to those around me. We will fail, we will stumble, we will be covered in vomit, we will cry, we will celebrate, we are mothers, and we are doing our best. Let's be honest, transparent, understanding, and encouraging as we all learn what this task really means! We still have a loooong way to go, potty training, discipline, schooling, etc. If we're warring over things now, it'll only continue as our children grow into new seasons.
My prayer is we change our perspective to: I'm going to do what's best for my baby, and turn away from: what are other mom's going to think of me? I think we'll all feel a lot freer in our choices.
I love you all. Hear me in this, even if I disagree with your choices, I believe you are the being the best mom you can be! Well done. I hope you feel the same way about me.