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.