3.30.2011

my choices ≠ more love

i just read one of the best blog posts i've ever read. ever. from anyone. it's on the leaky boob blog -- if you haven't discovered it yet, well here you go. it's a gem. here are a couple quotes that sum up the post pretty well:

Here’s the thing: the natural parenting/crunchy/hippie/green/stay-at-home-mom/work-at-home-mom/gentle-parenting/natural birthing/what-ever-you-want-to-add-here communities do not have the corner on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding ≠ all natural parenting. Breastfeeding ≠ attachment parenting. Breastfeeding ≠ crunchy. Breastfeeding ≠ a parenting style. Breastfeeding ≠ rejecting mainstream parenting. Aside from having lactating breasts, there are no real parenting style requirements to breastfeed.


I worry sometimes that if breastfeeding is perceived to be a part of the complete “natural” package we will discover some push back against it completely. What if they’re not interested in co-sleeping but are willing to breastfeed and then in the experience of looking for breastfeeding help and support that they discover they are also expected to co-sleep? Or a new mom plans on breastfeeding for the first 6 weeks, encounters some difficulty but is determined to get through it only to ask for help and get chastised for not planning to breastfeed until the child self-weans?"

but i also got something else out of it. and it's something that's been on my mind for a long time, something that i've been wanting to write a blog post about.

i'm a homebirthing, non-vax, co-sleeping mom, and i plan on homeschooling. my son isn't circumcised, we don't buy anything with characters, you won't normally find any junk food in the house, i try to buy only natural toys, and i make my own cleaners. but my son does receive the occasional piece of candy from family members, he's been watching TV all day for the past few weeks because i'm pregnant and have zero energy, i bathe him with johnson's baby wash, i definitely don't make dinner every night like a lot of my friends do for their families, and i gave river dry cocoa puffs this morning so he would stop getting into stuff and climbing on me.

it took me a while to get to the point where i wasn't judging moms for not breastfeeding, letting their babies cry-it-out, having hospital births, or letting them eat junk. but one thing i cannot deny is that i know every mother loves their child with every fiber of their being, and they make the decisions they feel are best for their family because of that love. who am i to say they are doing something "wrong," or judge them despite not knowing their story or circumstance? it's an uncomfortable, humbling path i've had to travel down, and a path i think many mothers have to face.

i always thought i would let my son nurse until he was three years old, if that's what he wanted. but lately i can't stand breastfeeding. i didn't mind it until i got pregnant, and now it annoys me and is uncomfortable and i'm thinking we'll be lucky if we make it to two years. i have already night-weaned (very happy with that decision) and i tell him no several times a day. i know mamas who have no problem nursing as long as their child wants, even through pregnancy, and how would i feel if i knew they were judging me, or thinking i was a lazy mom, for weaning before my son is ready?

and on the other side of the spectrum, i'm sure there are moms who think i'm crazy for making my own cleaners and doubt my house is really clean. or moms who would judge me for having homebirths, because they believe it's unsafe or irresponsible. so who am i to judge a mom for birthing in a hospital, or using bleach to wash her whites? it sounds silly, but women can be so judgmental of one another. from the time they're teenagers, walking around in the mall, checking out other 15 year old girls to make sure they're not dressed cuter. ;)

here was an eye-opener for me. i have a friend who has an energetic 3 year old. we are different in that she feeds her son foods like frozen pizza for dinner, she didn't breastfeed because it was too much of a hassle, she works 10-hour days most of the time while her son is at daycare, and the tv is always on in their house -- in the morning, during mealtimes, after nap. when i was pregnant with river, i thought (quite arrogantly) i would never raise my kid like that! but as i got to know this mama better, and became more understanding (not just knowing) of her situation, my perception of her changed -- not just of her, but of mommies everywhere. this friend of mine is a single mom. let me just say that i think moms who do it alone have got to be amazing. parenthood is so hard. my friend doesn't have anyone else to get up in the middle of the night to tend to her baby's fever. no one else is working full-time and supporting her child. no one else is there to wake up early and get her son ready for daycare. no one else is there to make a home-cooked dinner at the end of her long work day, or clean the toilet, or pick up toys in the living room, or do the laundry. no one else to really support her as a parent, and acknowledge the hard work she does every day for her little boy. placing myself in her situation... wow. i told her that i think what she does as a single mom is amazing, and she teared up and said thank you, that as a single mom, sometimes she doesn't feel understood or appreciated.

my point is that we don't know every detail of the woman next to us raising her children. be gentle. no hard-working, loving mama deserves judgement. we moms just need to learn, "we're all in this together." no matter what parenting choices we make, we all go through the ups and downs of parenthood, we all love our children, and we are all doing our best.

8 comments:

  1. Awesome Whitney--thanks! There have definitely been times when I've been too judgemental towards other mothers, but there have also been times when I've felt out of place for not being a 100% natural parent, either. I know many of us seek validation from other women based on whether they make the same choices we do, but it's about time to accept ourselves and accept other mamas too!

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  2. absolutely the best ever. i know you know my feelings about this kinda stuff. I have more respect for single mothers than I do any others.. not because the others deserve less, but because they have more (support). This was wonderful Whit, completely on point to what I feel.

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  3. My friend and I like to comment sometimes about how we would "never" do whatever and then we always say "but you know, we ARE perfect".
    There are so many things in this world of child raising that completely boggle my mind. Other people make such huge mistakes. If they would only ask me I could totally give them a clue. Or ten. :-P
    Determining what is best for your family is really different from judging. You can think something that someone is doing is a big no-no without judging the why's of it all.
    You can say "feeding mcdonald's chickensomething globules to children is horrible" without judging my friend who does it. Yes you can.
    I can think that public schools are right up there with putting your kindergartner in juvy without judging my neighbor for enrolling for pre-k.
    I have to make my own choices. I have so many of my own that I frequently fail and make no choice at all which translates into sloth. Judge me if you will. I promise I judge myself harder than you ever could.
    Judgment is painful for everyone involved. It hurts the receiver as seeds of doubt and negativity implant themselves in a heart that may be struggling already. It hurts you more than it hurts them as it narrows your heart and weakens your compassion.
    We all get choices. Helping one another with truth in love is far more effective than squinty eyed finger pointing. I am glad I don't have to weigh others decisions. Mine are heavy enough as it is.
    But...If I had to make choices for everyone else we would live in Utopia...cuz I AM perfect ya know. ;-)

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  4. I love this, Whitney! One of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever received was "There are no rules". You figure out what works best for you and your family and do it, and trust that everyone else is doing the same for their family. Also, totally agree that single moms are amazing. Sometimes TWO parents doesn't even feel like enough :)

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  5. Whitney... I enjoyed this post a lot! I also like your older post about making your own cleaners it got me right on the job of making my own too! =)

    Every parent is different for all different reasons...

    hearing parent stories is a wonderful thing I have gained so much from! Thanks Whitney for sharing!

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  6. You are so wise beyond your years Whitney! I wish I had had you to listen to/read about when I was raising my babies! I wish we had been friends back then, but you wouldn't have been born yet! lol! Thank you for sharing your insightful wisdom and most of all, thank you for being there for other young mamas just trying to do the best that they can. You are part of a much needed ministry! I love you!

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  7. HEY whitney! Loved this beautiful post and had to blog about it @ www.thesugarmountain.com- thanks for your inspiration.

    Love all of your blog posts and photography- Salli introduced me to it- I think? I've read it for a while now. She was my doula & midwife- LOVE HER!

    I'm not sure if I've ever met you at the sanp meetings- I'm hosting the next one in my backyard (woohoo!) so if you are coming, well, we can meet :) XO

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