Lately I've been thinking that there should be a secret pact amongst mothers that could go something like this:
I, (fill in the blank with your name), promise not to pass judgement, criticize, or turn my nose up towards any mother in regards to how she sees fit to raise her child. I will understand, and/or be supportive, that motherhood is a very difficult (but rewarding!) role and that as a mother, I should realize that I may not ALWAYS (and sometimes NEVER) see eye to eye with how one chooses to bring up their child (like how Alicia Silverstone chooses to feed her child in a birdlike manner, which who is to say, I wouldn't do the same thing to prevent my child from choking?), but that most mothers (key word here being MOST), are making their choices thoughtfully and in the best interest of their child.
If you ask me today if I'm a confidant mother, I'd say more times than not, yes, yes I am. But if you asked me that same question three years ago, I would have given you a different response.
When I first found out I was pregnant with Penelope, I did everything that most first time mommies do, I immediately signed up for weekly emails to learn the development of my growing miracle, I purchased What To Expect When Expecting, obsessively posted and responded to mommy message boards, and subscribed to parenting magazines. I knew there wasn't a manual to being the perfect parent, but I wanted to be equipped with as much knowledge as I could get my hands on.
Once Penelope arrived, I was consumed with whether or not I was making the right choices for my new baby girl. I was working at the time and to say I was tired would be the understatement of the year. I drank coffee in order to get through my day and all the while I continued to nurse. Today, I continue to drink a few cups so that I can be energized enough to keep up with a six month old and a two year old. Yet literature tells me that drinking coffee and nursing isn't necessarily the best thing for my baby and to refrain or limit caffeine intake. Emerald without coffee is like a car without fuel, it can't get anywhere and it's useless! If I didn't start my day without coffee, I would probably end up bedridden with bed bugs. I need my FUEL! So unfortunately, cutting caffeine from my diet is not an option, and I thank God I never saw Penelope, nor seen, Scarlett nervously twitch from caffeine withdrawal.
With both my girls, I made the decision to make their baby food. Everywhere I read, from magazines to parenting websites, the word ORGANIC pops up. During the time I was making baby food for Penelope, we were attempting to pay everything off so I could stay at home. As a result, our grocery budget was limited. Now that we've accomplished the goal of me staying at home, we're still on a small budget and the price of organic food just doesn't fit into that budget. Does that make me a bad mom?
When Penelope was born, I had exactly six weeks with her before I started back teaching. Lack of sleep quickly helped me make the decision to cosleep with our baby girl. This beautiful sleeping arrangement (beautiful because I actually got some REM cycles in!) lasted until she was a year old.
While many believe that co sleeping is hazardous and unsafe, for Brandon and I, it was the right choice. I was able to
sleep better knowing she was right beside me (and I loved rolling over
to see that precious face!) and I didn't have to get up and down to feed
her which allowed me more sleep. Selfish choice, yes, however, it aided me in keeping my sanity by keeping me well rested!
In the beginning, I constantly questioned whether I was making the right choices and if my daughter was going to die from the pesticide ridden applesauce I fed her from the hazardous BPA bowl I warmed it up in.
But the more I spoke to other moms, the more I read from mommy message boards (thank God for these!) it turns out that there are other mothers who make the exact same choices I do and they are just as great of a mother as the next (and their children seem to be doing completely fine!) No organics fruit and vegetables, caffeine drinking while nursing, co sleeping, and reheated foods in plastic bowls (and not to mention all the other questionable choices I've made!) doesn't constitute an award for worse mother.
There are so many other choices I've made for my girls that could easily be frowned upon, but at the end of the day, they are the decisions I've made and I am happy with. Mothers are boggled down everyday, second to second, minute to minute with the choices to make for their children. If we are consumed with how others perceive these choices, it can be truly exhausting. I am FINALLY getting to the point where I am comfortable in my skin. I feel I can be honest about the choices I make and not fear how others perceive me. Don't get me wrong, there are still times I agonize whether or not someone will question if I'm a good mother or if the choices are the right ones, but I know that my girls are happy, safe, protected and overwhelmingly loved, and so at the end of the day, that must mean I'm doing something right!
The wonderful part of parenting is that we all make mistakes. We do our best, learn from the mistakes, and apply the knowledge we've learned the next time. Everyday, I choose to do what works for my family, which in the end makes my parenting choices unique to me.
As women, we are united through this beautiful journey of motherhood. It isn't always the easiest role but it certainly is the most blessed and fulfilling one. Showing compassion and understanding for one another can definitely aid in making this sleep deprived and chaotic calling a tiny bit easier because the one thing we CAN agree on, is that our lives are forever changed, and we wouldn't have it...