Maybe it was after I changed my 7th diaper in 4 hours (our magical cloth diapers DO leak from time to time), but a few weeks ago, I had a realization: even when I put thought into a certain aspect of parenting, it doesn’t always go my way.
You guys, parenting is so damn humbling.
When I was pregnant, I figured I would be a super-crunchy mama. From the outside, I’m sure that’s what it looks like … I get kudos from fellow crunchy mamas for home birthing, placenta eating, cloth diapering, raising a vegan brood, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and my other natural parenting preferences. (I get plenty of eye rolls, and doubts from not-so-crunchy-parents.)
But guess what … I realize it’s kind of bullshit, and it doesn’t matter.
After high-fives for my crunchiness, those same mamas will judge me for vaccinating my baby, doing sleep training, and giving her formula.
Again, the judgement is bullshit. It does. Not. Matter.
I’m a damn good mom … like, I love my girl with my whole heart. Each day, I live intentionally, and ensure that I’m fostering her development, and I hope in the end, I’ve raised a strong, smart, kind human. With everything I think I do right, I know I do a lot of things wrong. I’ve dropped my phone ON HER HEAD while she was nursing. (Mom of the year.)
It was near eight months, when I realized that there are so many moms (thank you social media) who seem to be parenting a certain way, so they can brag about it later. I then recognized that many people might feel that way about me. When I go about saying, “Oh, we cloth diaper!”, or “We’re doing baby led weaning!”, or “We don’t use conventional baby products!”, I am being one of those dogmatic mothers. I don’t want to seem like my way is best, or that my parenting choices are a response to anyone else’s.
I think my first bite of humble pie was when I was literally starving my baby at 2 weeks old. My body couldn’t make the milk she needed, and we had to start supplementing. Before having her, it wasn’t a question: I would breastfeed her (extendedly), because that’s what I wanted to do. Sadly, I had no idea I had a genetic predisposition that made me unable to exclusively breastfeed. After I had judged moms for giving formula, I realized that some moms need formula. And, after that sunk in, I realized that some moms WANT to give formula. It wasn’t my place to judge. Now, when I feel that feeling creeping in (when I see a friend choose to wean early, giving up a good supply), I recognize that I am extremely jealous … not judging them. I have no idea what works best for their family, and I know it’s not my place.
On the other side of food, when we started solids, I gained even more perspective. We fed Alba according to the BLW standards for a few weeks, then gave her some pureed fruit. Suddenly, I was being told that I was doing it all wrong. That’s pretty much when I took off my blindfold … It all came down to this:
Judging other parents is not our place. If you are parenting with your child’s best interest in mind, you are doing an amazing job. This shit is hard … I’ve never been more tired, I’ve never been so mentally drained. But, I know that I am an amazing mom. My baby is healthy and happy, and that’s truly all I care about. And, to be honest, I think our way of parenting is awesome … but moving forward, I will not longer label it. I will just call it “raising Alba”. This is what works for our baby. This is what makes us feel successful.
This blog is our highlight reel. We share the happy. We don’t share the arguments … we don’t share the tears that are accompanied by the “I feel like I’m doing all of this wrong!”. We don’t share the times when we haven’t vacuumed for days, the laundry is piled up, and our bed hasn’t been made for weeks. We don’t share the deep conversations we have about parenting … we don’t always agree. I assure you, all of this happens in our house. The instant gratification of social media has turned us into a culture of over-sharers, and know-it-alls. I am done. I want no part in making anyone else feel less than. Once again, I found my rhythm, and I respect that we each have our own, and that it can evolve into another beat. That’s the beautiful part of life.
In the middle of the night, when you’re holding a crying baby in your arms, nothing else matters. If we all promise to be gentle with ourselves, and others, we can subscribe to the same parenting method: love.