If you are a mother, it’s pretty safe to assume that you have had someone (or 97857472 someones) imply that some difficulty you are experiencing with your child is in someway your fault. If you would, perhaps, adopt this person’s technique or philosophy on the topic, things would be easier for you….because you would be doing it the “right” way.
But, I am here to say that regardless of your decisions it still gets to be hard for you. Because, it is hard.
There are a lot of problem solvers out there, which can be difficult from the perspective of a mother. Mothers are constantly experiencing challenging realities. Sometimes we want advice and testimonials, sometimes we are looking to change the way we are doing something because we feel it’s not working. But, sometimes, we are just venting and saying what is true for us. Sometimes, we truly believe in and are committed to our parenting choices, regardless of how hard they are, and do not want to change them even if they appear impractical/wrong/needlessly tedious/unconventional to others.
This is something I have experienced a lot of as a mother. I have never really made conventional decisions or lived in a mainstream way. Not as a rebellion, but because it’s just me. So, naturally, parenting hasn’t been much different and, as a result, I have endured a torrent of strong opinions of disapproval, questioning and sometimes just utter outrage about what I’m doing.
I have been co-sleeping and nursing my child through the night (and her naps) for twenty-one months. She is very rarely alone in bed, as I’ve grown accustomed to going to sleep with her at night—a practice that I have felt very strongly against altering at all. I carried my baby in a carrier or sling almost all day, straight through all of her naps, for the first year of her life. I use cloth diapers, nurse in public, didn’t let anyone else hold my baby if she was crying as an infant, question medical advice, and feed her vegan “cheese” slices. Just to name a few things.
But, here’s the thing. Those are my choices. And I refuse to believe that I need to change beliefs that feel right down into the core of me…to ignore my intuition or not give my child what I feel she needs or shape her existence according to my values. A lot of my choices are challenging—sometimes I do not want a toddler undressing me and sucking on my breast, sometimes I dream of sleeping through the night, sometimes I want to just shove an ice cream cone full of dairy, sugar and gluten in my child’s mouth, sometimes I long to spend less time parenting and more time being an individual or wife. And even still, given all of that, my struggle as a mother, my exhaustion, and my existence is valid. I am allowed to say “this is hard” without any suggestion that I maybe do things differently. As if I would no longer be able to say or feel “this is hard” if I were parenting another way.
While my unconventional choices provide a nice example of all this, the point is that it gets to be hard for you, too. Your mothering reality is valid. If you struggled for years to get pregnant, you still get to say it’s hard and you are losing your mind some days when you finally have a baby in your arms. If you go back to work by choice and miss your child like crazy all the time, that gets to be hard for you. You can bottle feed and whine about how annoying it is to pump or expensive it is to buy formula. You can insist on being a stay-at-home mom and still feel like it’s valid to walk into a room by yourself, close the door, and do some primal screaming because, in a moment, you wish you were a million miles away. You can devote yourself to baby wearing and complain of an aching back. You can have a natural birth and say it hurt. You can refuse to buy commercial baby food, but hate making it yourself. You can refuse to let your baby cry-it-out and still be upset about the lack of sleep in your life.
They are your choices, so own them, sisters. Love and light!