Let me paint a picture for you. I’m holding a newborn. My apartment is dark, and I’m sitting in a red bucket chair. I’m trying desperately to breastfeed, and it’s just not working. The baby is wailing; she’s making a sound that has stuck in my ears for years—a terrible, sad sound of desperation. My baby was hungry. But please don’t judge.
I knew that breastfeeding wasn’t working. So I did all that I could do…I cried, too. And cried and cried. When I got it together, I called the nurses’ hotline number I was given on the way out of the hospital. The nurse was snippy and told me I must not be doing it right, and I needed to try harder.
But the crying wouldn’t stop. I followed my gut and opened the jar of formula the hospital gave me as a trial pack. Within seconds, I had a content and happy baby. It was then that I knew I couldn’t breastfeed, even though I continued to try for days after.
Was I devastated? Sure. Did I feel terrible and less of a parent? Absolutely. But, I did what was best for my baby and made a decision that shouldn’t be anyone else’s concern but mine.
Fast forward almost seven years. I’m chatting with someone I’d known for years. Someone who was supposedly one of my best friends. She had just had a baby of her own and talked about how she was “EBF” (exclusively breastfeeding). Then the daggers came out. Words that hurt me and stung deep.
She told me she felt bad for my children that I wasn’t able to “EBF” and do what was best for them and that she was sure I would see the (negative) side effects at some point. Seriously? Was she kidding? I was immediately brought back to that night holding my daughter, desperate for an answer. But that wasn’t fair. I knew I should shake off the comment, but let’s face it, it stung.
Comments like that can be heard way too often—moms against moms bashing each other for choices that should be based on their personal opinions and needs. Social media doesn’t help the situation either. People are constantly posting things to make themselves feel like superior moms, like articles confirming why what they do is the absolute best choice and why everything else is terrible and damaging for our little darlings.
Why!? Why are we judging each other?! Motherhood is HARD ladies! H.A.R.D. Everybody has their own ways, and everyone does things differently. Why isn’t that ok? We teach our kids to accept others and respect diversity, but we don’t even do that with each other.
This is not just a breast vs. bottle issue either. Moms are putting each other down over how to discipline kids, how much screen time kids should have, organic or not. Everything and anything is being put under the microscope lately and subject to this judgment. We constantly have to defend ourselves when we give our kids a lollipop at 8 a.m. or decide to let our kids drink from a plastic water bottle (ahhh, the BPAs! You’re killing your kid!). It’s all just so negative and unnecessary!
Recently I was told (by a fellow mom) that I really shouldn’t call myself a single mother if my ex gave me any help or support. She snidely suggested I call myself a co-parent so that people who do it all on their own could own the title “single mom.” What? First of all, I get and ask for nothing, but that’s beside the point and none of that mom’s business. Second of all, I will call myself whatever I want to. Are we really making levels out of “how single” of a mother we are? Are we sinking so low as a society that we can “single-shame” each other? That’s insane. We need to cut that out right now.
It takes a village. Remember that adage? Let’s get back to that instead of the “I’m a better mom than you” culture that’s forming.
Back to the fellowship of mothers that can count on each other for support or an extra baby wipe, not for a side-eye and judgmental glance or comment. Let’s leave that for all the other haters. Or let’s go back to the idea that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Basically, keep it positive or keep it moving!