so, i am someone’s mama now. i have a daughter. this is quite the identity shift. good-ness. a tiny little person now looks at me with helpless wonder. i have to take care of her. my decisions directly influence her life. her wellbeing. her personality. her identity. her outlook. kind of heavy, no? but wow, so good. such a tremendous blessing.
but boy oh boy, there are so many decisions to make! and they come at you fast and furious from the first moment of life. two seconds after labor ends, the choices begin. because before you can bat an eye, you are handed a sweet little bundle and immediately make the leap from pregnant lady to mother. the last nine months worth of pregnancy literature is tossed out the window and now you have to know about how to care for a little one. nurses ask you questions. you have to provide nourishment. you have legal documents to sign. do you want newborn photos? meanwhile, you are elbow deep in meconium diapers and still rocking your swanky hospital garb. and then the real decisions come. and with each one, a corresponding judgement by others. whether it is stated or simply perceived judgment, it feels real: would you like the vitamin k eye goop? (or do you want your baby to get an eye infection) will she receive the immunizations? (or are you one of those people) breast or bottle? (breast is best, bottles are for slackers) sheesh.
now if you have made it to this point, you have already weathered the judgey-wudgy-ness of pregnancy. you are having a med free birth? (good luck. yeah right. you will cave and get the epidural.) how are you feeling? great? (oh. well, just wait until the next one. you are lucky. i hope the baby is as easy on you once she arrives…) look at you! (you are so small! you look like you are about to pop!) and round and round we go. people are so strange with their comments. it is like they just have to point out the downside for fear that you will be too positive. thank you people. there are so many positive people in my life who utter kind words and offer prayers. elinor is blessed to have loving family and kind influences. however, i have been shocked by the amount of “other” comments that have been less than warm and fuzzy. strangers and acquaintances who feel the need to point out the flipside.
you make all these decisions and just pray that God protects your little one. and no matter how much you research and feel comfortable with your choices, there are always the nay-sayers and dooms-dayers there to make you second guess and feel discouraged. just when you are feeling good…just when you are settling into motherhood and breastfeeding and baby hygiene and scheduling and sleeping…someone says something insensitive and rude. and why do these remarks seem to come from women? women! mothers! people who have been through that fragile time. what is that? shouldn’t women be the most understanding and encouraging? why then do women get so sassy? it isn’t always blatant, sometimes it is just a tone. but it is there. and you can’t win. there is always another opinion.
you are breastfeeding? good luck having a life.
you are bottle feeding? so you are just selfish and don’t want what is best for your child.
you are vaccinating? so you think it is okay to inject poison into your baby’s tiny system. you must want them to have developmental issues…
you aren’t vaccinating? so you want your baby to get polio.
you are co-sleeping? you must enjoy needy, weirdo children.
your baby sleeps in a crib? so you want your child to be detached and sad. good luck bonding.
you demand feed? your baby will be selfish and you must do it to fulfill your own needs.
you schedule feed? so you don’t care about the needs of your baby.
you are using a pacifier? cheater. and have fun with that nipple confusion…
you have been out on a date with your husband already? wow. i could never leave my precious baby this soon.
you aren’t baby-wearing? too bad you won’t have a real attachment to your child.
you are baby-wearing? what are you, some kind of hippie? enjoy your co-dependent child.
what kind of stroller are you using? oh, that is an interesting choice.
how is her tummy time quality? you know how vital that is.
how is she eating? oh, she is a good eater? well, just you wait until you introduce solids / just wait until she teethes / just wait until…
are you getting any sleep? wow. she has been sleeping through the night since five weeks? ha. i’m sure you won’t be so lucky with the next / just you wait until you introduce solids / just wait until she teethes / just wait until…
and round and round we go.
you feel discouraged and stressed and pressured. and it is so senseless. i mean, don’t we put enough pressure on ourselves to be übermom? why let the words of others seep in and mess with our minds too? each day has enough trouble of its own. how about we all just make a pact to speak words of encouragement to each other. come on preggos and mamas! let us just be kind. let us open our ears and arms and close our mouths. let us pray instead of preach. let us speak words of blessing. let us lift each other up instead of comparing. let us inspire and learn from each other instead of passing judgement. this whole mama thing is such a remarkable thing. such a meaningful calling. how about taking a deep breath, allowing ourselves to just enjoy the experience, praying for the wisdom and grace to make it through another day or growth spurt or stage, and quit it with all the pressure-cooker parenting.
footnote: this new role of mine has inspired a new feature on the blog, mama musings. i plan to feature stories of amazing mamas and also use it as a place for my honest experiences with our sweet little E. stay tuned. and drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have something to share.