Wanna feel really terrible about yourself as a mother? Make a decision. Any decision will do. There will be someone, some “expert,” some busybody, some article, some link, some tweet, some Anonymous comment, some neighbor, some friend, some family member, some part of your own self who will pack your bags and send you on a guilt-trip.
There seems no end to the list of forces that conspire to make sure we feel like the utter-failure-waste-of-flesh-shit-for-brains parents. From the almighty spanking-hand of Religion to the subtle, insidious raised eyebrow of the Total Stranger, to the Little Voice inside our heads that just won’t shutthefuckup, there hardly seems a safe haven from the “woulda-coulda-shouldas.”
Which begs the question, why aren’t we acting as one another’s safe havens? Why are mothers writing articles entitled, “Homemade baby food Is best. Sorry, busy parents, but it’s true.” I mean, what is that? A simple, “Why I Choose to Make My Baby’s Food” would make all the same points and cut down on the risk of guilt-tripping some frazzled mother who tortures herself every time she opens a jar of baby food.
It’s bad enough to feel judged by a faceless mom-snob, let alone having to endure the virtual stinkeye from a Facebook “friend.” Friends of mine (and brand spankin’ new parents) just went through the hell of beloved pets not taking kindly to baby. When they took to Facebook to put the word out they were looking for a good home for their fur-babies (heartbreaking!) someone had the audacity to admonish them for “abandoning” their pets when they became “inconvenient.” I thought my head would explode. I don’t normally throw in my two unsolicited cents into any Facebook arguement, but these days, I find myself pretty ready to spring to the defense of any new parent who is subjected to anything other than, “What can I do to help?”
Ladies (and gentledaddies,) why the hell are we judging one another on our parenting choices? We are grown adults, not middle school bullies. Do we really still have to tear down others’ choices in order to feel better about our own? Your love for your Family Bed can just be that…love. It’s doesn’t have to come with any nastiness towards folks who don’t co-sleep. Be proud that you’ve Zumba-ed your way back to your pre pregnancy body, but don’t judge the upper arms of a mother who decided on different priorities. So, breastfeeding is the best option for you and your child? Don’t lose sight of that fact that every time you “breast is best” another woman, you may pressing on her bruised sense of worth. Excited that a strict “Cry-it-Out” policy helped your baby learn to self soothe? Well, the mother who just can’t handle the cries of her baby need not dampen your excitement. Relieved you decided to get your tubes tied after having just one? Well, that mother of five you just threw shade at might be just as relieved that her kids don’t have to grow up without siblings.
Let’s cut this bullshit guilt tripping, y’all. There are a hundred thousand ways to raise a successful, healthy, vibrant, contributing member of the human race. Let’s don’t try to pretend that we have it all figured out. I mean, who the hell are we kidding? We’re all just throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks. Let’s raise each other up. Let’s celebrate the bravery it sometimes takes to make the choice that’s right for our families. Let’s congratulate and support, be available and open minded, let’s ask questions and answer honestly, let’s root for each other and hold our breath for each other and wish upon stars for each other and pray for and with one another. Let’s HELP each other. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and the respect we KNOW we all deserve. Let’s be grateful that we get to raise our children exactly the way we want and need. Let’s be kind.
And then, let’s have a drink.