Well, I say ladies, but your husbands are making just as many comments as you all are, so let’s stick with what I had originally…
Stop “Mom Shaming”. Or if your household is anything like mine, where D and I are in agreement with how we are raising our child, “Parent Shaming”. Can we stop it? Let’s just go ahead and agree that there are probably hundreds of different ways to go about raising children and that more than one of those ways works.
And guess what?
Yo, hold up, here’s the real kicker!
Are you ready for it?…..
YOUR WAY MAY HAVE WORKED FOR YOUR CHILD, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL WORK FOR MY CHILD.
I put that in all caps so that the people in the back could read it.
My child (ya’ll know Lee, about yay high, cute, talented, curer of cancer, lover of all things Mickey Mouse) will be 2 years old next Friday. (And no, I’m not prepared to talk about that fact). But, back to my original point, he’s been on this Earth for only 2 years and I have personally received/overheard/been relayed.. let’s call it “constructive criticism” by quite a few people who seem to think they could do a better job of raising him that I’m managing. I know this particular child better than anyone else on this Earth, aside from D. Trust me, I do.
What absolutely FLOORS me, more than most anything else, is when that information is coming from someone who is not currently, nor have they ever taken part in, raising a child.
Oh, you babysat in high school? K.
Oh, you took early child development classes in college? K.
Unless you gave birth to me, or my husband, (or you are our Dads), back it on up.
BACK. IT. ON. UP.
I will be the first to admit that I do not take criticism well, just ask my husband. He would love to tell you all about it, I’m sure. All that being said, there have been a few instances where an Aunt of mine, or D’s grandmother, has offered up some advice that I happily took. But they both went about it in such a nice way. Neither were “correcting” what I was doing, they were just offering advice in the form of, “Hey, have you tried maybe ____? And seeing if that would help him to get it better?”
Perhaps it is all in the phrasing..
“You only breastfed for 6 weeks?”
That was literally the most I could do. I was hurting myself physically trying to produce more and beating myself up mentally because I simply could not.
“You only took 6 weeks of Maternity Leave?”
Yep. I needed to get back into a routine. Some women are meant to be stay at home Moms and some of us are not.
“You put your kid in daycare?”
I did! And he is THRIVING!
“You put your kid in daycare instead of having your Mom or Mother-In-Law care for him?”
This one. This question. I have gotten this more than any of the others combined. My Mom raised 4 kids and currently works full time and my Mother-In-Law raised 3 kids and currently takes care of her elderly Mother full time. This is the time in both of their lives when they should be worrying about themselves and their own lives. They’re not going to raise my children and I’ll be damned if I ask them to. Now, if your Mom/MIL is willing and able to keep your child, and that is the best option for your family, power to you. I sincerely hopes it works wonderfully for you.
Let me explain to you how D and I navigated this, exactly. My Mom and my MIL are both so loving, and so kind, and such good Mothers, that I honestly believe my child, or children, would be confused as to who their actual Mother was. And we didn’t want that. D and I are selfish when it comes to Lee. He is OURS. And we never want him to have any type of confusion over that. Does that make sense? We did not ask either of our Moms to care for him full time, not because we didn’t think they were capable, but because we didn’t think it would be the best thing for Lee in the long run. We want him to see his Grandparents and RUN FOR THEM out of pure excitement to see them. Not to view them as a parental figure.
But, like I said, that is what works for us and that is what works for our family. What works for our family, probably won’t work for your family (like I said in all caps earlier).
“He probably has that fever because he goes to daycare!”
Yeah, probably. But that immunity he is building up is really going to pay off in the end game. I would rather him have a few little viruses now than start Elementary school and have his body freak out.
“You let him cry it out? All night? AT FOUR MONTHS OLD?”
“He’s still sucking his thumb? Better nip that in the bud.”
I meannn what would you like for me to do, cut it off?
“Oh my God, you gave him Benadryl just so YOU could get some sleep?”
Oh my God, yes I did (and his Pediatrician told me to).
“If you put him in the bed with you once, you’ll be doing it until he’s a teenager!”
No teenage boy I have ever known is going to come crawl into bed with his Momma.
Back to the phrasing..
I am so much more likely to be receptive to what you are telling me if you don’t begin your statement in a way that makes me feel like you are accusing me of something. Or, if you are simply offering me a moment of help, as opposed to just telling me what I’m doing is all wrong. For example: If I’m by myself at the grocery store with a 9 week old infant screaming from his carrier in the cart, don’t come over and tell me that “He would probably stop screaming if I picked him up and paid him some attention.”
Yes, a matronly woman said that to me.
Mind you, she was not offering to unload my groceries onto the counter for me and then put the bags in my cart so that I could pick up my child. She was simply informing me that he would probably stop crying if I picked him up.
When you are a new mom, you are so sensitive. Your body just went through something so crazy, and your hormones..(let’s not get started on your hormones), that the only other people who can relate are women who have been in your shoes. So, you would think that middle-aged and older women would be a godsend to you.
Unfortunately, that seems to rarely be the case.
You, yourself, think everything you are doing is wrong. You just do. You doubt everything, you second guess everything, the first few months are just a mess for you physically and emotionally.
About a year ago when I was in line at the same grocery store (all by my lonesome), there was a girl checking out in front of me holding a screaming baby. The baby looked to be less than 2 months old and the Mom was digging through her diaper bag while the check out lady was staring at her (not offering any help) and the man in line behind me was huffing. I asked the Mom if I could finish unloading her cart for her and she looked up at me with bloodshot eyes and a red, red face, and said, “Oh please, would you mind?” I finished unloading her cart onto the counter and then walked around her buggy and loaded her buggy with the bagged groceries as she settled her child and paid. As she was getting herself and her child situated before heading towards the doors she put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” That was all she needed. That was it. Just two extra hands.
Not one week later I was back in the same grocery store with Lee, who was sitting in the grocery cart seating RAISING HELL, as I was trying to unload all of our stuff onto the conveyor belt. He had his stuffed puppy and he kept throwing it on the ground and then screaming at me until I picked it up. He was teething and having a hard time and I just wanted to get the crap out of there.
I didn’t pick him up this time because I knew if I picked him up, he would want me to put him down and then I would either be a.)hoisting him back up to my hip with him trying to shimmy himself down my side the whole time or b.)chasing his little butt through the store.
“Ma’am,” I heard someone behind me say and I was already having flashbacks to that first instance when a lady had been so ugly to me.. But, when I turned my head, there was the most kind man looking at me. He looked to be maybe in his early to mid 50’s and he so politely asked me if he could keep Lee company for a minute. He asked in a way that made it sound like I would be doing him a favor. I nodded yes and he walked around me and crouched down in front of the buggy and started playing Peek-A-Boo with Lee and his stuffed Puppy.
In the grand scheme of things, it was a small gesture. But to me, in that very moment, it meant so much. As we were walking away and Lee was waving goodbye to him, his wife caught my eye and said, “Hey, it takes a village,” and then winked at me.
She is so right, it takes a village. Let’s be nice!
Let’s head into 2019 trying to help all of those that we can and be our very best selves!
And side note: If my husband goes out of his way to hold a door open for you and you don’t thank him, he has assured me this is the year where he is going to start calling you out for it. Men, women, everyone but children, he has had enough and HE IS FED UP. Good luck to you all and may the odds be ever in your favor!