Becoming a “Mommy” has done a lot of things to my mind in just a few short months. I don’t know that I have obviously changed but my thought process certainly has. I find myself thinking about the future, realizing I will one day have to be more confrontational (respectfully of course) to preserve a healthy environment, and thinking about food WAY more. Side note, I recently started reading this book about allergens and industry that is farming and food. I was up for several hours awake fearing that soy was going to cause the zombie apocalypse and trying to figure out how to prevent that while avoiding soy. Then I came to my senses. Point being, I think about things I have never cared to think about before. The main one being how I feed my baby.
I always knew I would breastfeed my baby. My mom did it so it was a normal thing I was used to seeing as a child. I knew that “breast is best” for baby and I also knew that sometimes there are moms who are unable to for whatever reason. (I will get to that eventually). I read the books, I researched, and found all this wonderfully exciting information that continued to encourage me in my choice and really got Kenny excited too. I joined online support groups and forums to learn as much as I could before my little one got here. I was nervous about failing, or being negatively confronted about it so wanted these resources at my disposal.
Once Amelia was born I realized I am SO comfortable with feeding her, way more comfortable than I thought I would be. In my perfect world, I would feed her no cover, no shame, no anxiety. However, I started reading these forum posts. There were women being told they couldn’t feed their children in church, women being asked to leave malls by security, women who had family members criticizing them and asking them when they were going to stop. I was appalled. I was ready to jump back up on my mommy high horse I acquired while pregnant and go fighting for justice. Then, something strange happened. I started feeling fear and anxiety. I was hesitant to go on longer outings knowing Millie would need to eat. I even doubted whether I should go to a friend’s house because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. I started talking to Kenny about it. I told him I was so worried about making people uncomfortable and having someone get in my face about it. I was worried I would act out emotionally and defend myself in a way I would later be ashamed of. I know this is something I am passionate about and feel deeply is best for my baby but I don’t want to act outside of my character for that. Kenny made a wonderful point. Most of the forums and groups I am a part of have a lot of negative activity. There aren’t many posts that say, ” I breastfed my baby at Wal-Mart today and no one cared!”” The things people talk about are the negative because that is where the support is needed. However, that is not the case most of the time, at least where we live (I understand there are areas that may not be as understanding). Again, I started thinking.
I went to a support group at the beginning of the month and voiced my strange fear. Here I am, totally comfortable, yet uncomfortable for fear of making someone uncomfortable. There is a lot of silliness in that sentence. A friend of mine, shared some wisdom with me. She said, ” I would really encourage you to ask yourself what it is that you are worried about? It may not be fun, because you will have to face it but you will be able to solve the problem that way.” I explained what I have been talking about. I also told her I don’t want to have to use a cover. Millie does not like it and neither do I. She responded, ” Maybe you will need to ask yourself whether or not the relationship is worth preserving. She said say for example, your dad or father-in-law. If they are uncomfortable maybe then you could use a cover or you could go in the living room instead of feeding her at the dining table because that relationship is worth compromising for.” I spent some time thinking about that because it did not just apply to this situation but relationships in general.
Compromising is not always bad. Sometimes, we compromise out of respect for someone else. We don’t have to change our beliefs, or act outside of our values but we can meet others where they are at. I can show others I value them by not shoving my own belief and comfort level in their face. Which brings me to my next realization and concern.
Hostility between moms. What on earth is that about? Who the heck cares how someone else is taking care of their child (aside from abuse, there is cause for intervention there). Let me emphasize, their child, not mine, not yours, a child who is not born to anyone but that child’s mother. I see so much negativity about how a person should feed their child. I have a theory. Women are designed to breastfeed their children. That is how God or creation whatever you believe created women. That is great! It is a marvelous, beautiful thing! There are times when mothers can not or choose not to breastfeed their child. That is perfectly alright. From what I can see, if that woman were to encounter a large group of breastfeeding women it would be likely she would receive a verbal stoning if the topic were to arise. That mother has most likely heard or read it all before. I don’t know her heart or situation why would I abuse her, especially in ignorance, in such a way? Then those of us who do nurse our babies are left in fear of being mistreated by women who do not nurse theirs. I don’t know if you see this but I did as I was processing with my husband. OF COURSE, people are going to be mean to you. Mothers are defensive about how they nourish their children because there are women on each “side” who want to attack the other “side” because someone from the other “side” once attacked them and it goes on and on in a terribly, ugly, hostile, unnecessary, cycle. The same goes for parenting styles.
Now, personally, I don’t care who started it. I don’t care who is right or wrong. I care that their are mothers everywhere living in fear of being judged for something that no person has a right to judge them for. Feeding, parenting, I will do what is best for my family and others will do what is best for theirs. I want to be able to come together as mothers and encourage each other. I want to be able to go to a mother’s support group not just a breastfeeding support group (another disclaimer, these things are good because sometimes we need help from others who know what we are going through). All, I am saying is I want a place where as mothers we can lift each other up, cry together, laugh together and remind each other we are doing a wonderful job, a place where it is safe to have different opinions while still hearing each other out. Research, make a choice, do your very best and feel proud of what you are doing for your child.
Thankfully, that ridiculous horse has again been stabled. So, I would like to say…
To mothers everywhere, as a member of society and as a new mom, I take ownership and sincerely apologize for any hurt that has been caused you when it comes to raising or feeding your baby, whether by society or other moms. I hope you can forgive, and know that whatever parenting style, however you feed or fed your baby, you are doing a fantastic job!