Here’s another post that has been playing and writing itself in my head many times over the past several weeks. Mostly because the biggest lesson I have learned since becoming a mom has very little to do with actual mothering and everything to do with moms. What is the lesson? Moms. Are. Mean. To each other.
The catalyst for writing this post came this week after reading an article trashing Alicia Silverstone’s newest book. Now, as a professional/librarian, I do not always enjoy celebrities thinking they will write the next great book on whatever subject, but I choose not to read the book. This author of the article hadn’t even bothered to read this book before judging it and Silverstone. And the topics she focused on were odd. For instance, she talked about how Silverstone writes of giving up refined sugar. Moms in the comments threads are angry over this! Not over the author but Silverstone because sugar “helps” them! Well, that is fine; if it helps them, they should continue consuming it. Most people know and understand that refined sugar is not a healthy option; whether a person decides to cut it out of their diet or not is their decision. I personally say kudos to Silverstone! I would love to give up refined sugar, and I actually really want to try (as I sit here and eat a delicious cookie). I have not read the book. I don’t want to read the book. I have no idea if Silverstone is as judgmental in her delivery as these commenters, but I do commend anyone who has the willpower to give unhealthy things up. From what I know of Silverstone and the book, she is choosing a way to parent that is becoming more and more common. This is what works for her, her husband, and her child. It is their family, their decision. No one elses. Also, I know better than to read the comments, but they always suck me in.
Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of my parenting thoughts. Things I’d love for anyone reading to keep in mind: I found out, literally, six days before that I was going to be a mother. Six days. I had no time to mentally or physically prepare or nest. If I had had some time, I would have researched some things and perhaps made different decisions. I believe every (or at least most) mothers (and fathers) do what they believe to be best for their child/ren. No one should pass judgment on a decision a family has made because no one knows what led them to that decision.
Formula vs Breastfeeding: At my daughter’s first appointment, I was asked if I was breastfeeding. My gut response was, “No. I didn’t carry her; I am unable to.” The PA explained I could induce lactation. I never had thought about that and in my still reeling mind, it was not something I wanted to do. Had I carried a baby, I certainly would have tried breastfeeding. My body would have been prepared for trying. My body has been through a lot already, and it still had more to endure. The thought of inducing milk production was not something I wanted to subject it to. Along with this, I knew there were mothers who donated milk. However, since, as I mentioned, I was only given six days (and really not even that as most of those days I was not certain she would be coming home with me), I did not do research on this. My daughter was formula fed from the beginning. She is and always has been extremely healthy. She grew “normally”. She’s smart. She reached milestones on target. She has not suffered from being formula fed.
I realize a huge aspect of breastfeeing is the bonding time. My response to that is I used feeding time to bond still, and I continue to this day. She is 2.5 years old, and I know she should have her milk in a cup at the dinner table, but because our work week time is so precious and valuable to me, we cuddle on the couch and read books while she drinks her milk. Don’t worry. It’s from a cup. The bottle was gone around 18 months. I soak up every drop of that milk, and we continue to bond.
Food and Eating: One area where I did talk to other moms about and did some research on was jar baby food vs making our own baby food. As a shower gift, I was given baby food. I loved that. I appreciated that, and I bought some jars myself. But I did make the decision to make the majority of her food. It was not a difficult task. I receive bi-weekly fruit and veggie orders from an organic company so I often had lots to spare. What better use than making food for her! Yes, it could be time consuming, but I spent time on one of my days off while she was napping to complete it. No time was taken away from her. I found she would try anything, and she preferred the stuff I made over the jars. We did use all the jars, though!
Her child care provider has always been so excellent with diet. The family had begun adjusting their diet to cut out most processed foods so my daughter, three days/week, was exposed to all this wonderful, home cooked, fresh, organic food. I joke she eats better at Miss Erin’s than she does at home! I hope that between the two of us, we have started her on a path of healthy choices. I will admit that we do “slip” and have foods that I don’t like giving to her, but there are times when it was that or nothing (due to situations and not money; thankfully money has never been an issue for us. I am extremely lucky there). I limit those types of foods, and it is part of that me wanting to give up refined sugar and other things goal as well.
Disposable vs Cloth Diapers: Again, because I was given a weeks notice of my pending motherhood, I did no research on cloth diapers. In my mind, they were those rectangular things with pins and plastic covers. I jumped into disposables with no questions asked. When talking with Erin about child care, she offered to do cloth since she was doing cloth with her youngest at the time. Since I didn’t know, I told her no. A few months later, I found out about the “new” cloth diapers, and I was in love! I talked to others, joined a co-op, asked Erin if she was still willing to use them if I switched, and I slowly began buying them. I have no regrets. They’re cute!
But, I also still do disposables. Why? First, I have various family and friends that babysit her on a regular basis. I gave them the option to do cloth or disposable. They all said they’d do whatever, but I discovered, it is a lot of extra work (especially if the poos are not so formed!), and I did not want to put that on them. So with those people, I send disposables. Secondly, she pees a lot at night. A. Lot. She has leaked in a disposable diaper. We do have some cloth diapers that are excellent for night, but quite frankly, they smell really bad, and I can’t imagine how they must feel. And we only had 3, now 2. I use those for naps.
Nanny vs Child Care Center: I worked in child care. I respect the work child care workers do. I have nothing against them. But my work day is 9 hours. The thought of having her in child care for close to 10 hours a day made me uncomfortable. As I was beginning to think about what I would do, I posted that the nanny search was about to begin. As an aside, I chose the word “nanny” because my expectations for a nanny vs a babysitter are different. I expect a nanny to act as not only a child care provider but someone who would help teach my daughter, take her on outings, share experiences with her, invest in her and us, really. Anyway, my friend Josh emailed and said his wife might be interested, and he shared her email with me. Upon meeting her, I knew. It was that gut reaction. My mom was with me, and I told her I didn’t want to even look, but I would, to cover all the bases. As the search started, my sister and I interviewed wonderful candidates. As the fates would have it, none of them worked out. The woman I was going to choose was offered a full time job elsewhere. Karma again? Her name has always been so appropriate! Thankfully, when I contacted Erin, she was still willing and able, and I have never been so happy and confident in a parenting decision. I am tearing up as I type this because I could never have asked for a better person and home for my daughter to grow up in over the past 2 years. And we’re soon parting. But it’s all good, and I know the new experience will be excellent for Karma, and I know that the relationships we’ve formed won’t end; still sad. My next post is already in my head, “Ode to Erin”.
So, I guess the point of this is having seen and read threads and comments on many of these topics as well as others (don’t even get me started on the comment some random mom made about “don’t even think about adopting if you are a working mom because they will not let you! They’re not going to allow you to adopt just so you can stick your kid in child care and have someone else raise it!”. I kid you not. I usually choose to keep quiet. I could NOT keep quiet on that one.), I made the choices I made because they were what worked for me and us. Moms, and I say moms because I can’t recall ever seeing a dad make the mean comments, should respect their cohorts. There is no one way to raise a child or to parent or even to parent each of your own children. Be nice.