We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.
I've been trying to write this post for a long time, but the words never seem to come out the way I want. I write, then I read and it doesn't speak the way I want it to. But it's something I feel like I need to get out, so bear with me.
I can be a pretty judgemental person. It's not something I'm proud of. It's something I've been working very hard to change about myself. I never realized my issue until I had kids, when all of the sudden everyone was judging me for how I was parenting.
"You're STILL breastfeeding?!?!?"
"Oh, you're putting her in daycare?"
"She SLEEPS with you!!"
"I can't believe you're using cloth diapers."
"So you had ELECTIVE C-sections? Why would you do that?"
"You want how many children?"
I could go on...for days. All those questions had me searching for excuses, when really my only reason for any of them...because it's the best I can give my baby. In those moments that I felt so small under those harsh judgements I realized that I do it too. I've probably made someone feel that way, and I hated myself for it. It was in those moments that I vowed to be better. To not jump to conclusions. To understand that we all have our own story and our own reason for the things we do. To teach my children acceptance and tolerance.
I can try to change myself, but it's still out there. A mom that breastfeed's looks down on a mom who doesn't. A mom who adhear's to the cry it out method thinks the mom who co-sleeps is an idiot. The mom who had her baby naturally without medication feels superior to the mom who chose a c-section. Again, I could go on.
And on top of this "I'm better than you" attitude, society and the media and politicians just fuel the fire.
I'm sure you've all seen the Time cover of the woman breastfeeding her 3 year old. The title on the cover is "Are you Mom Enough?" I told Clif the other night that I didn't like the title. He thinks it's just a play on the whole "extreme" everything idea. Extreme sports - Are you Strong enough? Extreme couponing - Are you Savvy enough? Extreme breastfeeding - Are you Mom enough?
I hate the title. Are you mom enough? To me it says "Are you going to be un-mom and bottle feed your baby? Are you going to be just enough mom and breastfeed for a bit? OR ARE YOU GOING TO BE AWSOME, ALL POWERFUL MOM ENOUGH to breastfeed forever?"
I haven't read the article. I know it's about attachment parenting and the picture of a woman breastfeeding a preschooler on the cover is the most shocking thing they could come up with. (That this is shocking is a topic for a whole other blog post.) I don't know if the article speaks down to mothers like the title does, but the title makes me angry enough to not buy the Time magazine.
I am a breastfeeding mother. In fact, I subscribe to most aspects of attachment parenting. I breastfed past a year, I slept with my kids, I have baby bjorns and slings and wraps. I love all of it.
But I'm angry because it's just another way to pit moms against one another. To draw battle lines. To rationalize the judgements we pass on one another. I'm tired of being judged for what I do or don't do. Let's stop fighting with each other, about who's doing it right and who's doing it wrong and who's doing it SUPER right. Let's support each other, hear each other's stories. Can't we agree that we're all just trying to be the best moms we can be with what we have and what we know? Isn't that enough? That we love our kids and make sure they have the basic needs in life?
So here are my truths, with no excuses.
I have breastfed both of my children well past a year.
My children are in daycare...full time.
Ainsley slept with us for the better part of 4 years. Freddie still sleeps with us on occasion.
I use cloth diapers 80% of the time on Freddie. I didn't use them at all on Ainsley.
I have never let my children cry it out.
I don't always make my kids eat dinner before they have dessert.
I allow my children to watch way too much TV.
If finances and time (and my husband) allowed, I'd have 10 kids.
I had 2 scheduled c-sections.
Can you accept them?