Monday, May 23, 2011

Teeth Grinding. Stomach Churning. Heart Breaking.

I said on Twitter recently that I was going to make an effort to pray often that no matter how passionate I became about my choices as a mother I would not be arrogant when discussing them.  I said that so often I see well intentioned words that reek with superiority.  I said that mommy wars make my teeth grind, my stomach churn, and my heart break.

I hate it when some mothers act like the only legitimate way to get your child to sleep is in your arms or at your breast. I can't stand people thinking I'm lazy or mean or worst of all selfish because I've let my child cry herself to sleep.  I get angry thinking of the person who said, cruelly, in regards to this, "Babies in orphanages cry because they know no one is coming for them".  I resent you comparing my loving home to a negligent ORPHANAGE.  

And yet.  AND YET.  I also have a strong disdain for the pretentious smiles and the words of condescension from one mother to another when the latter confesses her child still isn't sleeping.  Just because Babywise worked for you, and just because it IS effective, doesn't mean everyone is comfortable with it.

It bothers me that there are a lot of women who are formula feeding their children for good reasons and who still feel tremendous guilt over it.  It makes me uncomfortable knowing that some people equate pouring formula into a bottle to pouring poison down a baby's throat and it brings me equal discomfort knowing, KNOWING that in some people's mind the most important form of bonding is that which occurs at the breast. 

But.  BUT.  I do know breastfeeding is best and I want to be a strong advocate for that, knowing that many American women don't understand how beneficial it is for their baby, physiologically or emotionally. I feel a fire within me when I see a seemingly well educated, and ironically pregnant reporter on a national cable news station say "Many doctors agree that the formula of today is of equal nutritional value as breast milk" further perpetuating this misunderstanding. I know breast feeding is hard and I wish there was more support for it and more openness to it in our culture. 
I cringe when I hear about an elective Cesarean because a woman is afraid of a vaginal birth and worried about the mess of it or wants the birth of her child to line up with visits from extended family. I gasp at the "too posh to push" phenomenon.  And I feel a twinge of sadness, that, as someone recently pointed out, many women spend more time researching a new household appliance than they do their birth options. 

And still.  AND STILL.  I find it offensive when natural birth advocates, people whom I want to identify with, vilify mothers for their birth choices.  It stings when I hear people say that mothers who choose a medicated birth are less than deserving of their birth experience.  It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see mothers feeling forced to defend their epidurals and their necessary C-Sections...their choices.

The thing is, there are some of these statements that I understand to an extent.  I just try to make every effort not to make anyone else's teeth grind or stomach churn or heart break with my words.  I'm sure some people would accuse me of being too "PC" or not being firm enough in my convictions, or trying to placate everyone but really it is just the opposite.  It's actually a very pragmatic approach.  I feel like when you address a situation with kindness and put your relationship (or your potential relationship) with a person ahead of your opinions on an issue, both the relationship AND the issue will be better served.  By that I simply mean, as my Momma used to say "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar".  People will take more interest in, and be more likely to further explore, your views if you treat them with respect and give dignity to their choices and decisions.  Or so it has been in my experience.


Christy said...

I haven't commented in forever but I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed this post. You are absolutely right and this is something I have struggled with. I am so opinionated that it is hard for me to express my opinion without walling off other people. The older I get, and the older my children get, I am getting better at it. Somewhat ;).

Anyway, I enjoyed this post and I am glad that you are confident in your decisions. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.

Ashley said...

This is superb. Thank you for supporting me in everything, parenting or not. I love you!

Mallory Pickering said...

SD- I don't think you're PC. You write about your opinions all the time--natural birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapers. If you weren't firm about your convictions, you wouldn't write about them. While I personally don't have strong opinions on these issues (yet), I can see how a mother could find help from your blog, if they were trying to make a decision like that. I think you support your decisions well because you disclose your personal reasons for making the decisions while leaving room for others to differ.

Carrie said...

Great post, SD!! I could not agree more, and I'm going to pray with you that I never have a superior attitude or think that I have all the parenting wisdom.

Christi said...

Great post! I have prayed for years not to have a superior attitude particularly about parenthood. I remember so many views given to me from the get go and how awful I felt as a mom from them.
My choices are not necessarily the best choices but they were the best choices at the time for my family. I am so thankful for my children that I'm glad that I finally got over some of the guilt (though new guilt comes) that prevented me from being the mom I needed to be for my children. BTW, I read your second post and I totally relate to wanting to see productivity in my day...just remember you just had a baby.

Mary Pauline said...

I just read this and your words were perfect. After 2 placental abruptions requiring emergency c-sections and a NICU stay for the youngest, the thought of a vaginal birth was a lot to swallow, but I wanted it. Then when I went into labor at 32 weeks and began abrupting, I knew that my hopes of that would never happen, esp with my recent hysterectomy as a result of his birth. BUT, I received a lot of ridicule from so many whom I thought understood. My fears were legit ~ An abruption can kill mother and baby. It killed my brother 10 years ago. . .
Anyhow, thank you for this post. It did my heart good!
Blessings to you all!