An open apology to mothers everywhere

Before I became a mother (and I know it wasn’t that long ago I made the transition) I used to have many opinions about the decisions that the parents I encountered had made for themselves and their families. It wasn’t until welcoming our little guy that I realized how hurtful, insensitive and rude these judgements were. And quite frankly, that those decisions were NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

So to all the moms out there I secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, passed judgement on, I offer up this heartfelt apology. And I hope others (with and without children) will join me in saying a loud, “I’m sorry.”

1. I’m sorry for thinking you’re a bad mother for giving your child formula. I now know first-hand how difficult breast feeding can be, especially those first few weeks when you’re both working to get the hang of things and establish supply. Latch problems, bloody nipples, and even personal preference are all reasons a breast feeding relationship might not work out. I now know that no mother out there wants anything but the best for her child, and the decision to formula feed, full-time or as a supplement to breast feeding is one she’s carefully weighed. You’re not a bad parent for choosing to give your child formula.

2. I’m sorry for thinking you’re crazy to want to share a bed with your baby. Before our little guy, I wasn’t set one way or another about bed sharing. I knew we’d be co-sleeping, as baby’s crib was in our room, but my partner was dead-set against having baby in our bed. That all went out the window after several weeks of nobody getting a good night’s rest. Once I was finally able to get myself in and out of the bed after complications from my surgery, we all agreed that everyone got more rest when D was in our bed. The ease of breast feeding, not to mention comfort for babe, made bed sharing, even part-time and temporarily, an obvious choice for our family, like many others. It’s mostly our western civilization that separates moms and babies for sleep. There’s no evolutionary reason for it. Our motto now is “whatever it takes to make it through the night.”

3. I’m sorry for thinking you were a hippy granola cruncher for wrapping your baby snugly against you as often as you could. I thought you were strange and clingy, but after reading the literature behind he baby wearing practice, I now know how valuable this type of close contact is to both baby and parent. And although I haven’t mastered it yet, hands-free breastfeeding!?! Witnessing firsthand how strapping our babe into the carrier can soothe him almost instantly has made me a believer. It’s also a convenient way to get around without the bulk of a stroller. The only downside is the way it reminds me how uncomfortably front-heavy I was while pregnant. Yeah, I don’t miss that!

4. I’m sorry for sneering at you when you brought your screaming child in your giant stroller onto public transit during rush hour. Babies are little people with big baggage who got places to get to too (sometimes during peak travel times), and rush hour on TTC makes even me want to scream my face off some days.

5. I’m sorry for thinking how lazy you were for driving through that McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, Wendy’s, etc for your last meal. Good grief is it ever difficult some days to get even a cup of coffee in, let alone three squares. Add to everything else the production of having to carry a car seat/infant/stroller into the grocery store in order to get ‘healthy’ food, and even this proponent of eating real food has been sent pedal to the metal for the nearest drive thru window. Something is better than nothing when you’re past the point of ravenous, no?

6. I’m sorry for then giving you side-eye when you finally did make it out to the grocery store, sporting sweat pants and a ponytail. Sometimes the greatest accomplishment in the early days is simply getting dressed and running your fingers through your hair. I know this now.

7. Lastly, I’m sorry for being snobby about the fact you didn’t have a medication-free birth. Labour flippin’ hurts, and damnit it’s hard work. If you want to be comfortable when bringing your baby into the world, more power to you. Also, you never know what can possibly go wrong warranting medications as well.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start. And I promise to never, ever judge another mama again. We’re all on this wacky parenting roller coaster together, after all. And mamas can take on the world when we work together instead of hating on each other and bringing one another down. You’re doing a great job, mama, don’t let anyone tell you different.

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