Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recent Mommy Reads

***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.

Happy Thursday!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. You know my struggles with feeding my own "lazy eater" who was not gaining enough weight, etc. It is refreshing to read this article because we don't always hear how hard nursing is for different people. I appreciate your statement of not worrying about the expectations of others and being gentle with myself. Your words of encouragement through my situation have been exactly what I needed to hear. Love you and your way with words.


Sarah Armstrong said...

Oh friend, how I love the way you write so eloquently what so many of us want to shout from the rooftops! The shouts of "Amen" for this post are coming straight from my house! :) For those of us who have those difficulties - milk that doesn't come in EVER, lazy eaters, etc. etc. Oh how we need to be reminded that our success or failure as a mother is not determined by the "nipples of milk and honey". That description about made me fall out of my seat in hysterics. I remember so clearly the sting of the looks/words from those who thought my decision to stop was just fueled my fire to speak strongly to the "other side" of this debate. Love you for speaking these true words so plainly.

Amy said...

Kristy, I really enjoyed this post. I read the article about breastfeeding with great interest because I made the choice NOT to breastfeed. At all. While I knew that was the right decision for me and my daughter--and my husband supported me 100%--I can remember feeling "put on the spot" when a well-meaning mom at my baby shower asked if I was planning to breastfeed. So there I was, surrounded by 20+ people, about to announce to the world that I wasn't planning to breastfeed. (However, I'm of the school of "whose business is it anyway," but whatever.) Fortunately, no one seemed to pass judgment on me right then and there, but it is a shame that I had to feel some sort of nervousness/embarrassment in stating something that was my choice.

I remember one of my really good friends took me aside one day when I was pregnant and said, "Look. Don't let anyone bully you into something you don't want to do. With my first kid, I did everything by the book and breastfed until she was almost year old, and she has had every allergy and illness known to man. With my second, I ate crap all through my pregnancy and wasn't able to breastfeed, and he has been healthy as a horse. Do what's right for you." I hugged that friend so hard I almost snapped her in two.

I support anyone who wants to breastfeed; I chose not to for several reason I won't go into here (because my comment is long enough already). And, as a perk, my husband enjoyed being part of the feeding process from the very beginning of our daughter's life. The bottom line is that I don't think formula-feeders should be made to feel that they are "lesser" moms because they can't/don't breastfeed. Unfortunately, that is the message the "society of moms" sees to be sending.

(I'm sorry this comment is so long; I can get really fired up about this issue!)

Holly-- The Storm Chaser said...

Both were great articles, thanks for sharing. On the breastfeeding front.... I think it's so important for new moms to realize, it's nothing you can control!!! Being a mom of five, I've had five completely different babies who have all nursed completely different and have weaned at all different ages for that reason. Only one of the five made it to 12 months, and I'll be honest, the ONLY reason I kept doing it that long was because he absolutely refused bottles or formula and would nurse and be done in five minutes on each side. It was a breeze, and that was with child #4. The rest have all had their issues with different things/reasons to wean earlier, and for some strange reason, I still felt guilty, even though I knew it would all be fine. #5 threw me for a loop. He was a lazy eater and a chomper at that. I cracked and bled so badly that I ended up with a STAPH infection on one side that took months to heal. So, needless to say, he got weaned super early, and we haven't looked back since. He's happy and healthy and that's all that matters.

On to the 2nd article... I struggle with this one daily. I pride myself at times for being a "Claire Huxtable" (The Cosby Show)and having the attitude of "grow up and move out so we can be alone!" But that always comes back to bite me as I when I see one of the older kiddos helping a younger one to read a book, or tie their shoes, etc. My parents had a great outlook about us growing up and have always said, "Every stage had its ups and downs. We just always tried to make the most of its ups, and grin and bear the downs..." I'm trying to mimic their parenting in many ways, but that one area especially.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. You know what I value most about you? You stay true to yourself without judging others.

Karen Y.

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