We live in a world now days where someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. Middle ground doesn’t exist. Understanding and sympathy for someone’s feelings or situation are set lower on the totem pole of importance than your opinion or need to tell them that they are incorrect. The group that I’ve found is quick to live in this world of judgement and pointing fingers is the group that you would think would benefit the most from finding love instead of war, and it just so happens to be us, moms.
Ever been in the grocery store and you can hear a child screaming from the frozen food isle while your picking up cold medicine? Or even on an airplane in front of the child that wants nothing more than to kick your seat and cry for the entire 8 hour flight? Ever seen a mom trying to push their child into their car seat and hold them with one hand while trying to strap them in with the other? I have to admit that as a mom there are times that I look at the mom who is letting her children run crazy in the bank and think “TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR KIDS WOMAN!” But then there are times that I want to wrap my arms around the woman who dared to try and make what was supposed to be a quick trip to the store for the necessities with her three kids who are now pulling each others hair, fighting over who gets to pick the cereal and asking if they can have everything that they see and tell her to hang in there.
In my recent journey of deciding to quit my full time job and stay home with my children, which is not just a full time job but a job that requires way to much overtime, I have found myself wanting some friends, both for me and my kids. A woman can’t just stay home alone all day every day with two small children, it’s detrimental to her sanity. Ladies, making mommy friends is hard, and let me tell you why. We’ve all heard it, probably a million times, ever since we were children, but let me repeat it for you. “Mother knows best.” And isn’t it true? My mom did know best. She knew that it wasn’t best to skip school when you weren’t REALLY feeling sick. She knew that it wasn’t best to eat an entire box of Oreos in one sitting. She knew that it wasn’t best to run red lights, no matter how big of a hurry you were in. So, naturally as I grew up and had my own kids, and seeing as how I am now mom, now I know best, right? Well, the answer is yes and no, but sometimes, moms, as a collective group forget that this rule only applies to YOUR OWN CHILDREN.
In my quest to find mommy friends, I’ve found love, support, friendship and sisterhood, but I have also found judgement, rejection, and feelings of failure in my abilities to parent my children despite my best efforts to raise them to be respectful, loving and intelligent human beings. When my son was 4 months old, I stopped breast feeding and whenever I would pull out a bottle the questions began. “Did you dry up?” “Did you have breastfeeding complications?” “Did he not want to latch?” Ladies, I CHOSE not to breastfeed. I didn’t have complications, I had a milk supply, and my baby would latch. But you know, I HATED it. It caused me so much anxiety, I stressed so much about how much my baby was eating that I literally made myself sick, and it hurt! But in the mommy world, those reasons were never good enough to combat the research that they had done that told them that I was not giving my baby the best care I could. Never mind that I was a better, happier, and more calm mother. As I’ve looked around I’ve found myself casting the same kind of judging eyes on those that do things differently than I do, but why? Why do I, as a woman, in this world full of other woman, just like me, other woman sitting on the toilet longer than necessary just to get a second to themselves, other woman eating ice cream and crying because they’ve watched Big Hero Six to many times today and despite their efforts to clean the house, it looks like it hasn’t been touched, other woman who find a trip to the grocery store alone a vacation, why do I find the need to judge what they believe is their absolute best?
Google will always give you results when you search and for every question you have there will a study to read. There will be evidence of smarter children who’s parents practiced certain exercises and there will be evidence of what damaging effects might be done if you do something different. Please, do your research so that you can raise a happy, healthy child. A child who loves the world and finds laughter in the small things. Between what you study and what you feel, you will be certain to find what is best for you and your child, but be respectful to those who have also embarked on the journey of parenthood and allow them to research and find what will allow their children the same opportunity to grow based on who they are.
The reality is that there are so many great humans out there, that used to be children, raised by different parents, all doing their best. There is no right way to raise a child. Some moms are going to breastfeed, some moms are going to use formula. Some moms are going to co-sleep and others won’t. Some will rock their children to sleep every night for as long as it takes and others will let them cry it out. You might feed your children solids before 6 months because they seem ready while others wait until 9 months. Some moms cover up when they nurse and some let it all out. Some might not let their children have sugar and others use it as a reward system. At the end of the day, at what point do we support and uplift instead of tear down? At what point do we recognize that the mom who’s child just smacked yours at the park didn’t raise her child to be violent, but instead is probably battling every day to get them to be nice? When do we decide that the mom with the screaming child in the movie theater just wanted to take her kids out for an enjoyable night that didn’t go as planned rather than assuming that she’s reckless and doesn’t care about your experience? Inside each and every one of us is a heart that beats for our children. We feel their pain when they are hurting. We can’t help but smile when they are happy and who they become is a partial reflection on who you raised them to be. Children grow up to become adults who go on to shape the world, and the CEO at Goldman Sachs isn’t there because his mom picked his binky up off of the ground, put it in her mouth and put it in his instead of washing it with soap and water. The professors at Harvard aren’t smarter because their moms made home made baby food instead of just grabbing it off of the shelves at Walmart. They are who they are because they were raised by THEIR mother. Their mother, who loved them enough to do her best. Their mother who fought against the world every day to raise a good child.
Now this isn’t to say that I’m doing everything right, because surely there are things that I could do better. This also isn’t to say that if someone has advice on what I could do to maybe keep my child from screaming every time I lay him down that I wouldn’t gladly accept it, but it is to say that when they say that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village of people who understand the struggle and want to help lift burdens instead of try to correct things that might not be broken in the eyes of that mother. So to you momma, you know best, for your sweet child, but next time you see that mom who is silently sitting on the bench at the zoo while her child runs wild, try to realize that she might just be taking a second to gather herself before she acts. Remember that she has been blessed with the same amazing, challenging, sometimes seemingly impossible task that you have, motherhood.