I've been silent for a while because life has been out of control!! Just when I was in a comfortable routine with Isabel, life changed. We packed up and moved out of our little condo, where we had made a home for the last year; where we had brought our baby home. We moved into a house for which we'd been praying for three years. I started watching a 1.5 month old cutie for four hours a day... he is now 3 months old! Life has gotten busy. And then of course, there's the fact that being a stay-at-home mom is really hard- way harder than I'd expected, but equally rewarding.
Since my last post, my child is now almost 7 months old! She has two teeth, loves food, is sitting well, and is showing signs of wanting to crawl. Where did the time go?!
In my silence, I've been able to ponder some issues that pertain to motherhood (and really life in general). One issue particularly twists my undies: the pseudo-expert, holier-than-thou mommies who shame other mommies. If there is one thing I've learned in seven months, it's what I've already stated: motherhood is hard. You would think that would cause women to band together and encourage one another in this journey. Rather, it's quite the opposite. If you don't do things the way these moms feel is best, you're a bad mom. Here are some examples:
If you put anything with fragrance on your baby's skin, you are giving them cancer.
If you work instead of stay at home, you're neglecting your child.
If you feed your child any purees or, heaven forbid, rice cereal before six months (even though most doctors say you can attempt at four), you will make your child obese/give them diabetes.
If you let your child cry in its crib, you will damage its brain (what do you do in the car when they cry? Just wondering...)
And my favorite: if your child isn't exclusively nursing from the breast, you are an inferior woman or mom.
I have heard or read every one of those listed.
I mean, there are some legitimate things that most would agree are best for baby. But most of what I listed have so many different factors involved that it is impossible to make blanket statements, and they are plain and simply none of our business anyway, and certainly not our responsibility to "correct."
I'm a mom who exclusively pumps. Isabel latched great from day one, but because of her size, I was told she needed to stop nursing in order to not lose weight (from burning calories). Because of that, Isabel got choosy about nursing. Since I could make enough breast milk, I decided I'd push myself to provide that for her for as long as I could.
There are some women who really look down on those who bottle feed, even if what they are feeding is pumped milk. Ridiculous. Who do you think you are, some kind earth mother goddess woman? No, you're not. You're a woman whose baby happened to be able to latch and suck correctly and whose milk supply has no issues. You're fortunate, is all. Anything more than that gives yourself way too much credit. The truth is, no matter how many times some moms consult a lactation consultant and drink fenugreek tea, breast feeding might not work for them. You know what's worse than not nursing? Being completely stressed out and frustrated with your child. The best advice I got regarding nursing was that my daughter needed a happy mom more than she needed to nurse. So I decided to exclusively pump. It is not easy. At all. You know what made it harder? Things like a La Leche article that told me that I had caused Isabel's breast aversion. How dare they. I mean really. How dare they?! I didn't need to read that garbage. What I did need was people validating that nursing is hard and not as natural as you'd think, and encouraging me that making this decision was better for my baby than forcing her to nurse.
And how about the moms who only feed, clothe, and bathe their child with organic materials? That's great that they can afford to do that. If I could, I would. But when they shame other moms who can't afford it, that is not appropriate. What that really says is "Because you're poor, you're an inferior mom." My child wears normal cotton clothes, bathes in Johnson & Johnson, wears disposable diapers, eats regular, pureed veggies and fruit, and gasp-- even some jarred stuff! Why? Because that's what I can afford. And you know what sticking to a budget makes me? A good mom.
So can we just stop shaming each other? Can we stop looking down our noses at moms who can't manage the "perfect" Pinterest life, or the moms who don't make the same decisions we do? Can we look at each other with a knowing glance and say, "Good job. You're a good mom. Your child is happy, healthy, clean, and well-adjusted. You're a good mom."
So I don't nurse, I can't afford anything organic, I sleep-trained my baby, I let my child occasionally watch the TV when it's on, and I stay at home instead of being the do-it-all-supermom. But I'm a good mom because my child loves me and loves life. She is healthy and strong, growing stronger. And chances are, you're a good mom too.