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I'm a twenty-nine year old Army wife currently living near a large Army post. I have an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Pepper, the Internet, cloth diapers, and ridiculous TV shows. I'm a stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters, AJ and Amelia. We also have a 6 year old beagle named Abby who is as dumb as a box of rocks.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What The Heck?

Can I talk about something here? (Of course I can, its my blog!)

If I have one piece of advice to offer the new and expecting moms, it is this:

DON'T compare yourself to other moms, or your kids to other kids.

Now, for me, I haven't really had trouble with the second part of this. AJ is the most perfect, most adorable, cutest baby in the world. Wait, so is your kid? Of course they are! As moms I think its natural to look at your kid and see Heaven. Seriously, there are days when I sit and watch her play and just smile because I can't believe that not only did I make that piece of perfection, but I managed to keep her alive up to this point!

That's right, folks, I'm taking credit for her! Well, the good parts at least, the stubbornness and attitude come from the hubby (yeah, right).

My point is, I rarely compare her to other kids. I think I heard the saying "every baby is different" enough times during my pregnancy that it must have sunken in. To me, watching AJ learn new skills or get new teeth is exciting, regardless of whether Bobby across the street started walking at 2 months old or Susie was potty trained by her first birthday (I call bull sh!t, people, but I digress).

What I struggled with early on was comparing myself as a mom to other moms.

I didn't have an all-natural, home, water, pain-free, drug-free, hypno, upside-down birth. I had a scheduled C-Section.

I also didn't cloth diaper right away, nor did I breast-feed AJ past the 6 week mark. I have my reasons for each and every decision that I made and honestly, I no longer feel the need to explain myself. I made the best decisions for my family, and while your choices may be different from those that I made, I'm sure they're the best for you and your family.

Plus, lets be honest here.

Some of the choices that I made were not at all what I expected. I changed my mind. I'll admit (and this isn't easy, here) that I was wrong. I thought that I would have a drug-free, all-natural birth. I thought that I would breastfeed until 1 year (or at least 6 months). I had decided that cloth diapers weren't for us. We were not going to co-sleep, no matter what. AJ would be in her crib from day 1.

Well guess what, folks. As I said above, I had a scheduled C-section, only breastfed for 6 weeks as opposed to months, we use cloth diapers, and AJ was in bed with us for the first 3 months of her life and even after that I had trouble putting her in her pack 'n' play in our room, much less across the hall by herself!

I have encountered moms who have made different decisions and some are understanding (without explanation) of my choices, but far more are judgmental. Like somehow, my decision to bottle feed will affect their child negatively. I used to feel like I owed them an explanation as to why I chose to poison formula feed my baby. (Yes, in case you are wondering, I have actually encountered people who equate formula with poison.)

Maybe its because we're past this point and AJ is now drinking the same whole milk that their kids are, or maybe I have grown more confident in my skills as a mom, but I no longer feel the need to even discuss my choices with the judgmental moms. Now, don't get me wrong, if you want to know, I'll tell you, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it, nor will I follow the line "we used formula" with a lengthy explanation about the inability to latch or nipple shields, etc.

If you want to go to a LLL meeting, more power to you! There still are times when I wish that I had been able to breast feed AJ, but those thoughts are no longer ridden with guilt like they once were.

So, to all you expectant moms out there, be ready for the judgment. I think that moms of babies are some of the most judgmental people out there, mostly because the different options are so controversial. Do you vaccinate on schedule or delay? Breast or Bottle? Pacifier or no pacifier? Cloth or disposable? Baby wear or stroller?

I think in the end, no matter what decisions you make for your child, trust your gut. You know what is best for you, your baby, and your family.

Bottom line is, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

13 comments:

  1. I totally agree. I may not have kids but i have worked with them for many many years. What is right for one family may not be right for another. Accept it and move on. My sister in law attempted to breast fed for whatever reason she chose to stop. The whole time both her mother and my mother were badgering her and questioning her decision. I felt horrible for her. She constantly felt the need to justify why was doing it. I totally think she was sick of the harassment and stopped. Almost a year later she tells me she regrets not trying for longer. Regardless of what a family chooses there will always be someone questioning your decision. Stand strong in what works for you.

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  2. I really struggled with this up until Levi was about 9 months. I had intended to breastfeed, but with his acid reflux I stopped. We used cloth diapers for a little bit but now we're back to disposable. We vaccinate. We let him cry it out. We'll probably spank.

    Before, I always felt like I needed to justify all of these decisions to other moms. ESPECIALLY since being an "organic" mom is on the rise.

    Now, I could honestly care less what other moms have to say about my parenting. My little man is healthy and happy and we're doing what works for us.

    Moms, take the energy you're using to judge and put it towards figuring out what's best for YOUR family!

    Thanks for sharing this, Beth!

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  3. I just had to comment on this blog post because it is exactly what I have been saying since I started this "Mom Journey." My biggest piece of advice to moms-to-be is "Go with your gut!" It has certainly saved my sanity on a number of occasions and has become my mantra.

    Yes, I do cloth diaper, breastfeed, babywear and cosleep, but not because it is trendy or I picked up an attachment parenting handbook and tried to follow it word-for-word. And for all the moms out there who do not do that, particularly the cosleeping bit, I felt like it had to be followed up with an explanation on HOW I cosleep (to indict the safety measures I was taking) as well as WHY I chose to cosleep...but then it slowly occurred to me that it is NO ONE'S business why. If it works for Rock, Abby and me, well that is all that really matters! :)

    I found that most the "natural" parents that I have tried to socialize with (at places like LLL) are AP-Nazis! "What?! You tried solids with your baby at 4.5 months?!?! That is horrible for the babies and you should delay solids until at least eight months!" (Real comment!!)

    I am definitely passionate about breastfeeding and specifically women's rights and the law, particularly concerning the government and laws that would impede a mother who would choose to do it (e.g., laws that prohibit breastfeeding in certain places), but not to the end that we alienate women who can't or choose not to breastfeed. Anyway, I am not trying to write a book on your comments section, but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate this post because it really reflects how I feel, as well.

    So thank you, Beth!!

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  4. Oh! I forgot to add, I loathe unsolicited, biased parenting advice. I'd just as soon bang my head on the wall than hear it!

    OK, that is all!

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  5. Well said! I don't have any kids yet but with my line of work I've seen so many "messed up" ones and so many wonderfully perfect ones...it didn't matter if they were breast fed, cloth diapered or given birth to upside down and in water... it was the amount of love, care and support that the child recieved growing up! I'm glad you see that I wish others would see that that's all that matters as well...No matter how they were fed or birthed, without the adoration and love from parents they still might end up in my office...

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  6. I love this post! Couldn't agree more. We are all going through the same thing, right? Trying our best to raise a happy, healthy child? It's challenging and at times exhausting.. let's be real.. it's just plain hard. For the life of me I DO NOT understand why there is so much critism and judgement. I don't get why, we as women, don't stand together more and help each other out.. by lending an ear or an understand smile... just a breath of sanity. It blows my mind!
    Yes, I wanted to breastfeed. But it didn't work. I wasn't going to stress myself as a new mother trying to make it work. So.. we formula feed, wears disposible diapers, I've never once carried him in a sling, and he's been in his crib since the second night he was home. But guess what? He is SUCH a happy baby. I get comments all of the time on how happy he is, how much he smiles, what a calm, sweet disposition he has.
    I must be doing something right!

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  7. Amen sister:) I really, really, REALLY could care less what other mothers do for their children and what choices they make. We all are doing what's best for our families, and we're all different. And that's OK. Why does it bother others so much that I choose something different that they have to point it out and judge me? I've just never figured that out!

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  8. My parenting style is so all over the place that I don't fit into any one category. I have friends on both sides of a very large spectrum and so I've found that none of them have been judgmental of my decisions. And I'm not judgmental of theirs because I've done a little bit on both sides. If only parenting came with a "how to parent perfectly" book. ;)

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  9. Amen! I have already come into contact with judgemental people, especially on the topic of breastfeeding. I totally plan to do it (not that it will happen successfully), yet I still hear opinions on why I should only breast feed and not pump breast milk into a bottle. Good grief. I just want to say, "get a life." People have had babies since the beginning of time...I think I can figure it out.

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  10. I love this and I can't agree more. I think everyone finds her unique mama ways that make her successful and to spend all your time comparing just leads to stress and heartache {although I still fight to remind myself this when so and so's son says 15 words at 10 months and I'm over the moon with just one at 17 months lol}

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  11. I hate the judgmental moms! I didn't breastfeed Little Butt at all. She stayed in the nursery at the hospital. I don't feed her organic food. Whatever. To Hell with those who hate on others. Good for you for speaking out!

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  12. Good for you! I'm not a mom and may never be one, but I feel that it should be what's best for the child/family involved, especially where it's just a difference of opinion. I could see someone trying to get involved only in the case of true harm to the child. Being that I'm not a mom, I feel the judgment from those mean mommies too and it's ridiculous! I can't imagine being judged every step of the way when raising a child...it's tough already geez!

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