I am going to go a little of topic but I feel like I need to vent about this online, as most already do. I know this might not relate to all of our readers at this point in their lives, but hopefully it will or already did. I read a phenomenal and quite hilarious post on The Huffington Post blog this week titled How To Be a Perfect Parent in 5 Easy Steps… or Probably Never where author Una LaMarche describes how to be a perfect parent in 5 easy steps. It is quite sarcastic and for those of us tired of mom blogs and forums that provide unsolicited (or solicited) advice as well as judgmental comments about whether you EBF (exclusively breastfeed)* or you poison your child with formula. The blog provides a comic relief of sorts during which you laugh at yourself and your partner. I highly recommend you read it. This article goes along recent movie with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler Parental Guidance, where old school parenting meets new school parenting and if you have not watched it, I highly recommend you do because it is a great example of what many moms/parents today face with their own parents or mom friends.
A friend of mine gave me the best advice, albeit unsolicited, while I was pregnant and repeated it again once Matan was born. Actually she is one of my few friends that I know will give me advice when I ask for it but also conscious not to be judgmental. Her advice was not to take advice from anyone and to trust my instincts as a mother and my husbands instincts as a father. It truly has been great advice and I thank her everyday for that comment. The other great advice she gave me was the week my son was born, I was having a lot of trouble producing milk and getting him to breastfeed. She came to me and said, “he will get there and don’t worry, you will not be less of a mom for having to supplement or formula feed your child.” You know what? That brought down my nerves and anxiety about breastfeeding 100%, when a person I trust and look up to as a parent was able to communicate with me in such an understanding and compassionate manner.
Moms are filled with judgmental comments and thoughts. “OMG, I cannot believe you guys don’t put him/her down to sleep at the same time every night,” or “She is so strict with the babies schedule, she needs to learn how to be a more flexible parent.” Who are we to ask or even think about making such judgmental comment? Even if you are sometimes saying things in amazement you never know how that is going to translate to the other person. Let’s think before we speak about what we are saying and how that person can interpret our thoughts. I mean we don’t have to walk on eggshells but really lets practice those communication skills we are trying to teach our own children!
My friend at Jewhungry and I have had various conversations about this topic. She recently blogged on a similar topic titled The Great and Powerful Blog and discussed how distorted of an image we usually get from the magazines, blogs, and books about what parenting should be like and how all is usually portrayed as “rosy-cheeked children and the perfectly placed raindrop on the window behind a cup of coffee in a mug handmade by the aforementioned rosy-cheeked children.” As a future Occupational Therapist I have been very intrigued with the occupation of new motherhood and have been trying to do some research on the support services as well as the experiences of these women as they become mothers themselves. It is a difficult transition for which there is no degree or real training, the training happens on the job while you are getting very little sleep and raging hormones are causing an emotional roller coaster. As a recently new mother all I can tell you is that it is damn hard to be a parent. I mean when was the last time somebody else completely depended on you for everything? I honestly do not think that a university degree or any number of books you read will prepare you for this so lets cut each other some slack and be understanding and open minded. Be open to the fact that when someone is posting a question on a forum asking whether they should give their 10 week old organic or non-organic formula as they need to supplement you should not tell them to get second opinions on the supplementing or to keep on trying breastfeeding because you do not know what they have been going through.** And this is a real case scenario, my friend just wanted advice on organic vs. non-organic and here are 10 moms telling her to be ok with the fact that her baby might be low weight and that might impact his development?
So what is the recipe for success? I am not going to give you the ingredients or the directions, all I am going to tell you is to trust yourself and your instincts as that is when we make decisions that we feel comfortable with, those that feel comfortable in our belly. And do me a favor, give yourselves and each other a pat in the back, or a huge hug, as we are all doing a wonderful job.
* I provide the definition for you in parenthesis just in case you don’t know what it stands for as I find myself researching the mom acronym dictionary along with best parenting advice.
** Just to let you all know, breastfeeding does not come naturally to most of the mothers I have talked to so yes your words of encouragement are lovely, but don’t pressure me more than what myself, society, lactation consultants, and others are already pressuring me to do.