I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I don’t spend every second with my kids.
I went back to work, but I check in as often as I can.
I use formula, but I really wanted to breastfeed.
I nurse my two-year-old, but only sometimes.
I share a bed with my child, but I’ll stop soon.
I sleep-trained my son, but he hardly cried.
Seems like motherhood is full of buts, and I’m not talking about the ones you wipe. Though these are just as stinky.
I’m talking about the other “but.” That little word which we use to explain our parenting choices. It is our defense against perceived judgement from others. It is our safety net. It’s what keeps us from being one of “those” moms; whatever that means.
Remember Gene, the crazy chef from “Wet Hot American Summer?” If not, go see that movie immediately. He would say the most outlandish things under his breath like: “I’m going to fondle some sweaters,” and pretend he really said something more benign like: “I’m going to fondue some cheddar.” It isn’t until he is confronted by a talking can (how much do you want to watch this movie now?), that he finally realizes he should be honest about his life choices.
Seems like most of us moms could use our own “talking can.” A little voice that reminds us to stand by our decisions and not feel the need to explain them away. Actually, we all have that voice, it’s called instinct, and it’s different for everyone.
My instinct told me to nurse on demand, which helped me reach my goal of breastfeeding my oldest for at least six months. That same instinct encouraged me to keep going well beyond that point. knew this was the best solution for me, yet I still often felt the need to justify my perfectly acceptable choices. I found myself explaining why I was (still?) nursing my one-year-old, even though I knew it was best for me and my child. I have no idea for how long I will breastfeed my second child, and so far my instinct is telling me the end is still a long way to come. Your instinct may be telling you something completely different, and I’m sure it’s just as valid.
Yes, there are some truly abhorrent parents out there, and I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that you are not one of them. You likely put a lot of thought into your parenting decisions, and you are doing what’s best for yourself and your family.
If you love being at home with the kids and have no desire to go back to work, be honest.
If you enjoy your high-salaried job and don’t feel sad when you drop the kids off at daycare, be honest.
If you prefer bottle-feeding because it works best for you and your baby, be honest.
If you want to let your child self wean, be honest.
If you love having your kids in bed, be honest.
If you couldn’t wait to sleep with just your partner, be honest.
There’s no reason to be ashamed of the choices you make for your family. My guess is you had to make some tough calls that only you can understand. Yes, others may judge you; just as you likely judge them back. This doesn’t mean you should cower anytime someone expresses disdain for what you do.
Be bold. Be proud. Be loud.
And, go fondle those sweaters.