Losing the baby weight. Baby wearing. Strollers. Baby food. Baby cereal. Exclusively breast-fed. Pumping a freezer full. Vaccinating. No-vax. Delayed/selective vax. Cloth diapering. Disposable diapers. Co-sleeping. Living crunchy. All-natural. Formula-fed. Home birth. Hospital birth. Natural. Unmedicated. Epidural. Scheduled cesarean section.
Did any of these make you cringe, just a little? If you're a mama, then you most likely answered yes. Maybe you cringed because it was something you're entirely against; but, if you're like me, you cringed because you feel guilty about doing/not doing one or more of the aforementioned things.
Why? What makes us feel guilty? Sure, the media can be blamed some, with tabloids blaring how so-and-so has her pre-baby body back just weeks after birth. But I think it's much closer to home. In fact, it's in our homes. It's you, and it's me.
Yes, us. We do this to ourselves and each other. Every time we judge another mom for doing something differently than we would, we're bringing her down. I once read a comment that said, "Motherhood is the nastiest competitive sport I've ever played." Ouch.
Just because another mother chooses differently for herself and/or her child doesn't mean she's wrong. Maybe she's spent hours agonizing over the decision. Maybe she's shed tears over the overwhelming amount of information. Maybe she hasn't done any research at all; she may not even realize there's research she could do. Maybe she has complete trust in her caregivers and simply gone with their suggestions.
Who knows, besides these women themselves? And unless they offer their reasoning unsolicited to us, it's none of our business. Does that mean if we see a need, we shouldn't offer to help? Absolutely not! But, I'm begging you, do it in a loving, gentle, kind way. Chewing out another mom for doing things differently only serves to take her down and destroy our solidarity as mothers.
The worst, I think, is ourselves, though. We scroll through Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards and BCC chat rooms and Facebook groups, and see all the happy, all if the good stuff, all the moms that have "got this down." Nothing ever seems to go wrong in their perfectly organized and chevronned homes. The perfect hair and makeup selfies with their babies adds to the disillusionment. We begin to feel inadequate. Less-than. Simply not enough.
Let me tell you... There are dishes in my sink. Dirty clothes piled up in front of the washer, and clean clothes in baskets and on top of (rather than in) the dresser. I cloth diaper, MOST of the time. I use disposable wipes. We chose to selectively delay vaccinations. We co-sleep. Bean has had less than 5 bottles in his 4 month existence earthside, and all of them were breast milk. I tried to pump a freezer stash in case of emergency, and I have MAYBE ten ounces, because I don't respond well to a pump, and Bean gets upset that something else is taking his milk, and it makes my boobs hurt. I use essential oils and prefer natural remedies, but I'll take Tylenol if I have to. We bath Bean nightly with organic castile soap. Bean and I do baby yoga sometimes, and other times we dance around to Rob Zombie. I deferred the circumcision decision to Bear, and he chose no circumcision for Bean. We planned a home birth, but ended up with a c-section. We plan to have a home birth with our next, should we be blessed with another child.
Some things, like the dishes and laundry, are just a part of life. The other things are personal decisions. NONE OF THESE THINGS REQUIRE EXPLANATION OR JUSTIFICATION, TO MYSELF OR TO ANYONE ELSE. None of these make me better or worse than anyone else, just different. None of these things make me a bad mom, either; they just mean I'm human.
We need each other, and that means we need to stop beating each other up. And we need to get past the rose-colored screens, and realize that the Facebook and Pinterest moms are just as human as we are, and stop beating ourselves up. Let's work on building up our community of moms.
I guess what I'm driving at is this: You are not in this alone, you are doing the best that you can for yourself and your family, and you are more than enough. <3
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.