It took me so long to post this because I didn’t know what to write. I stop and think about everything that’s happening around me and the way mothers talk to other mothers and wonder when did we decide that one way is the right way to parent. The controversy between topics such as breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding, circumcising and not circumcising, giving babies shots and keeping them shot free is outstanding. Everyone is so entitled to their opinion that they shove it down people’s throats with a holier-than-thou attitude and don’t give a crap who sees.
I guess I want to start by saying that I have not been placed in a situation yet where someone has told me how to parent my twins. They are 19 months old and we have thus far avoided any of those types of people. Sure, I’ve had strangers give me unsolicited advice like “oh, she may be cold” or “you have to burp her right away after feeding her,” and while I just smile and nod, I want to scream that just because I look like I’m 12 (seriously, I’ve been told many times I look like I’m 12) that I am a 23-year old mother to twin girls and my husband and I are doing just fine. They are our first and only children and while it was stressful when they were born and my husband being in the military meaning we are thousands of miles away from anyone who cares enough to help, we made it through just fine. We didn’t have anyone in our family pressing our views on us and how to parent our kids. They helped us. They showed us little things to make it easier. No, my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, aunts, etc; didn’t have twins but they did have more than one kid and still had valuable advice to give.
I don’t think I could have made it through that first year if I had to deal with someone telling me I was wrong or telling me how I should do things. I’ll sit back and watch mothers argue over and over about their views and how they are “right” and just can’t help but silently scream into a pillow. Everyone was raised differently so what gives one person the right to feel entitled and bully another mother for doing something completely different?
Let me tell you about something I feel strongly about – I do not feel it’s appropriate to pierce children’s ears. Why? Because I feel that is a choice my kids should make. Does it sound silly to you? I’m sure it does. You’re probably thinking “they’re just ears, why’s it a big deal?” Because it’s a choice I’m pushing on my kids. They don’t get to decide if they want their ears pierced. They don’t get to understand what it means to take care of that responsibility if I do it for them. Something so little means so much to me, yet I wouldn’t tell a mother who pierced her daughter’s ears that she’s a nut-job because to each their own. You raise your kid how you want and let me raise mine the way I want.
I don’t think it’s bad to pierce a babies ears. I just don’t want to make those kinds of decisions for my child. Is that so horrible? I didn’t breast feed and I felt bad about it for half a second. If I had breastfed, would my child, who was born with Hydrocephalus, be where her sister is in her language or would she still be delayed? My children are so smart. One of them can count to two and is making sentences just fine. The other isn’t but that has to do with her condition and is something that I can’t help. We work with her and she can say a few words but she really shows little interest in talking. However, they are both so smart and can figure things out that would surprise you. I say I felt bad for half a second about not breastfeeding because it’s true. Having twins made it difficult, being an new mom made it stressful and not getting milk made it hard. Looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I did what worked for me and my girls.
It’s true when they say that you are your own worst critic. I spent the longest time trying to tend to every cry, no matter how exhausted or stressed I was. I wanted to be super-mom. It wasn’t until I had an emotional two-hour break down that I realized I’m doing just fine. That it’s okay to let them cry because you know what? They are just fine. Crying it out didn’t hurt them emotionally. They are happy babies. They know we love them and are always there for them. It’s mothers that say “oh, you’re causing emotional damage they will feel when they are teens” that drive me up the wall. My mother let me cry when I was a baby and I didn’t remember one thing about it when I got older. I didn’t hold it against her. I didn’t know she did it. How are your kids to know unless you tell them?
My point is that while getting advice from other mothers can be helpful sometimes, it’s also a curse. Every mother wants to think their way is correct but doesn’t want to put themselves in your shoes and listen to your beliefs. At the end of the day, you are that child’s mother. You are the only one who matters. So what if you want to circumcise your child? So what if you want to let them cry-it-out? So what if you want to pierce their ears? So what. You do what you want to do and I’ll do what I want to do.
My advice to anyone, especially new mothers, is to take that advice with a grain of salt. Listen to what others have to say about a situation and then assess where you are. Every situation is different and so is every child/parent relationship. Watching mothers trash-talk each other has hardened me to asking very few people for advice if I ever need it. No one is right and no one is wrong. We need to empower each other to feel great in the decisions we as parents make. Instead of telling someone they are wrong because of how you feel, tell them that as a parent and as a person, they are making the decision they feel is best and that’s all that matters. Be supportive of someone else’s decision without being judgmental. Give them advice for what you did in a similar situation but don’t shove your beliefs down their throat.
I want you to head over to http://strongmomsempower.com/ and take the pledge to create a more supportive and non-judgmental environment both online and offline for mothers of all ages and with all beliefs.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone told you how “wrong” you were for a decision you made? What did you do?
Disclosure: I am participating in a blog campaign with One2One Network. I have not received any payment. All opinions are my own.