***This one's just for the ladies. Sorry, Dad and Steven.***
My mom takes Redbook Magazine, and she recently brought me two articles to read about parenting. I'll link them on here for you to read if your interests are piqued. I'll also share my thoughts on them.
The first was about breastfeeding and was titled, "No, You Don't Have to Breastfeed." This controversial article (just read some of the reader's comments after...) relays one woman's journey that lead her to unapologetically bottle feed her child. She weighs the pros and cons while honestly expounding on her unpopular, albeit personal, decision.
While I am a breastfeeding advocate, I also believe that what defines a good mother does not come from her nipples of milk and honey. We are culturally defined by so many "social norms" that henpeck us into feeling like we have to do things a certain way. In our day and age, breastfeeding is that norm, and, unfortunately, it just doesn't work for everyone... What about the mom who's baby is losing weight? The baby with food allergies to everything? The mom of the lazy eater? The mom who is so stressed out with older kids that she's just not making any milk?
Almost every mom I know who chose to nurse her child went through some obstacle and made decisions along the way about when to stop, when to supplement, etc. For me, it was Addison's milk allergy and the drastic changes I was forced to make to my own diet. Was it worth it to continue??? Almost every woman has a story of mastitis, cracked nipples, diminishing supply, you name it... and the mom's who don't brag about their three years of spiritual bonding while nursing their child(ren), staring into their eyes, muckety muck. (Sorry for the overgeneralization.)
Unfortunately, another of our societal norms is the "misery loving company" mantra... I remember one of the first questions I got from friends, family, total strangers... was "Are you nursing? Pause... (in a borderline look of worry/condescension) How's it going?" First. Like it's any of their business. Second. Do you want me to share my battle stories to make yourself feel better, or do you really care?
No matter the decision a mom makes, she feels some sort of guilt and judgment. Some combination of selfishness and selflessness. And it doesn't matter how long or short or not at all that they nursed. Someone will ask "how it's going" and respond with some look of chagrin.
Like I said before, I am an advocate of breastfeeding. It worked for me and Addison, and my dietary sacrifices were worth it to me for the goal that I set for myself. (I will NEVER forget how good my first piece of EXTRA CHEESE pizza was for me or how much I savored every gulp of cow's milk with my chocolate chip cookies the night that my breasts were officially emancipated.) I will try to nurse this second child for a time, taking it feeding by feeding, day by day, and I hope and pray that I make the best decision for my child and my whole family and that caring about my family's well-being will be what defines me as a good mom.
Mostly, I just hope that I will not succumb to the expectations of others and that I will be GENTLE with myself...
Still with me?
OK, the second article was a bit more sentimental and reflective. It was titled: "Letting Go of Your Kids, Little By Little." The author describes the stages of a child's transition from dependence to independence and the little benchmarks along the way.
This article made me cry. It also made me understand why people keep having children. I've mentioned in a previous post that the idea of "growing up" has always been an emotional one for me. As an imaginative child, I prayed that the time would pass slow and that I would not have to grow up. Maybe it was some sort of Peter Pan syndrome--I don't know. As a mother, I have those same thoughts. With each milestone that Addison reaches, I am filled with awe and pride and love and wonder... mixed with a little sadness and sentimentality. I desire for her to be an independent soul (which she totally is) with hopes and dreams. I want to help her learn to love and serve, to work hard, to reach her goals. Yet, I feel myself wanting to hold onto these sweet days where her "Mommy, what' that?" and "Look, Mommy!" and "I'm Mommy's little girl." and "Hold you, Mommy!" phrases keep her my little girl for as long as possible.
This article put parenting into perspective for me. It made me so thankful for this opportunity and responsibility, and it made me want to cherish moments. Each moment. Especially the hard ones.
If you read these articles (or even if you don't), I'd love to hear your thoughts on these topics.