You’ve heard the buzzwords:
Crunchy! Granola! Hippy! Attachment Parenting!
We’ve all seen the Time Magazine cover of the mom breastfeeding the world’s tallest three year old. And we all have our own opinions about it.
Jamie Lynne Grumet asks “Are you Mom Enough?”
Maria Kang asks “What’s Your Excuse?”
The insinuations in these seemingly innocent questions is that you are NOT good enough. As mothers, we have all had our share of well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) “feedback” from others on the way we raise our kids.
You are a bad mother, letting down your children because you don’t put them first.
You are a bad mother, letting down your children because you don’t put yourself first.
You are a bad mother because you didn’t lose the baby weight quickly enough.
You are a bad mother because you put your own selfish desire to be thin above taking care of your newborn.
You didn’t breastfeed long enough.
You breastfed for TOO long.
You endangered your child by co-sleeping.
You didn’t bond with your baby like you could have if you had co-slept.
You went back to work too soon – mothers should stay home with their babies!
You didn’t go back to work – don’t you want to show your kids the value of having a career?
You’re having ANOTHER one? Don’t you think you’ve got enough?
You’re stopping at two? Isn’t that a bit selfish?
You circumcised your son? That is barbaric!
You didn’t circumcise your son? He’s going to hate you when he’s older!
You had an all-natural birth? They don’t give medals for that, you know…
You had an epidural? You know that causes the baby to be drugged!
The constant digs that we level at one another are truly terrible. Even comparing pregnancy symptoms becomes a pissing contest. My morning sickness was worse than yours. Your labor was 24 hours long? Well mine was 80! My baby was five weeks early! My baby was 3 weeks late!
The accusation was recently leveled at me that I’m a “crunchy parent.” It was in a comment on another post for another site. The commenter wrote, “You are probably one of those stay at home moms who breastfeeds for years, won’t circumcise your boys, thinks baby-wearing is a way of life, co-sleeps with your babies forever and had a ‘midwife’ rather than a real doctor. You are awful for inflicting your views on other moms just because we don’t all want to follow your shining example. Get a life!”
Well, she wasn’t totally wrong. I am a stay at home mom. By choice. I am lucky enough that my husband can support us in comfort (if not luxury) and allow me to spend my days with my children in these early years. I may go back to work one day, but I may also choose to be a full time housewife. That’ll be a decision I’ll make WITH my husband.
I do choose to breastfeed. Mostly because I’m lazy and it is cheap. I nursed Dexter until he was about 18 months old, and I would have continued, but I got pregnant with Daniel. I stopped because I didn’t know if it was safe to continue. Stopping was no big deal. By that point, he was happy to move to a cup. With Daniel, he is almost 14 months, and I am still breastfeeding, even though I’m two months pregnant. My doctor said it was safe, and he is showing NO signs of wanting to stop. Nursing is his security blanket, and I won’t take it away from him until he is ready.
I don’t begrudge any woman who chooses to formula feed. These days formula is amazing and a totally fine choice. Each to their own. How you feed your kid doesn’t affect me in ANY way. Go with what works best for YOU.
I did choose not to circumcise my boys. I had intended to snip Dexter, but in the UK, it’s not regularly done. By the time I could find someone to do it, he was several weeks old, and I knew him as a real person. I couldn’t bear to put him through it. So I decided against it. When Daniel came along, I didn’t even consider it. By then I had researched a bit, and I came to my own decision that it was best to leave it be. Again, I have no problem with those who choose to do it. But I feel that if my boys want it done later, they can make the decision for themselves.
Baby-wearing? Yep. I’ve done it. I will happily do it with my next. And I think it’s an awesome way to bond with your child and to make carrying them easier. But I don’t consider myself an “attachment parent” because of it. I simply found an easy way to keep my baby close to me, and I enjoy it, and that’s all there is to it.
I co-slept with both kids. Again, this was mostly out of laziness. Breastfeeding in the night is tiring, and it’s much easier if you can just lay there and let the kid feed while you sleep. I also felt much happier with my babies close to me so that I would know the second anything was wrong.
With Dexter, we co-slept full time for nearly 2 years, and over the last year, we still sleep together about a third of the time. With Daniel, we co slept for about 10 months before he started sleeping in his crib, quite happily, and it works better for him.
I will likely co-sleep with the new baby for a while. But that’s not set in stone. Whatever he/she needs will be the deciding factor.
And as for a midwife, yes I had one in my first birth. In the UK, most all births are midwife-led. Doctors hardly ever come into it except in emergencies. My midwife was amazing, and my birth experience was the best I could possibly ask for (even WITH the epidural I had at 7 cm). My second birth was delivered by two nurses because no one called my doctor! The whole birth experience was traumatic and painful and just overall awful. I’d never want to experience that sort of thing again. And yes, I had an epidural once more, though it didn’t quite take.
But here’s what I want to know?
How does ANY of my experience affect you in ANY way? Am I telling you that my way is right? No. Am I saying that your way is wrong? No. Your experiences shape your decisions, and your life affects the way your raise your kids. And as long as you are not abusing them or hurting them in some way, you are likely making the best decisions you can for your child.
I am just one person with a blog, and I can share my thoughts – but at the end of the day, you don’t have to read them, and you certainly don’t have to agree with them.