The Best Way

I thought being a TFA corps member, and employee, was bad–but it lacks an edge with its abundance of overly confident, perfectionistic, and slightly judgmental personalities when compared to the mommy population.

I love moms. Hear me out: the idea of women linked in a community because of a shared journey is amazing to me. However, this impression is evident only from afar and then you find yourself in the group–wanting to isolate yourself. In my experience, finding a place among other moms often {not always} means having to subject yourself to scrutiny.

Being a new parent opens you to newness: ideas, products, practices, etc. I love the newness & loathe it simultaneously. I want to navigate the breadth of knowledge and figure out what to do, buy, teach, and believe independently. Sometimes, I just want an answer from a seasoned veteran. Honestly, I do both daily.

Most of all, though, I want to make my decisions without having to feel like a justification is needed and that seems to be the pre-requisite if you choose to contribute to a conversation on child rearing in a circle of moms. Although I am a sensitive person, I don’t think I’m exaggerating the sizing up that occurs when you share your experiences in motherhood. More recently, a new mommy friend mentioned that she was hesitant to mention she was formula feeding to another mommy friend for fear of judgement. Wait, what? That’s your choice and I believe it was probably one that came to be over the course of a thoughtful process. Who are we to think we know the best way? Moreover, why are we categorizing another parent’s decisions {decisions that do not cause harm} as “right” or “wrong”?

Ok, so here’s the kicker: I’ve participated in the sizing up. I have heard or seen something another mother has done and quickly scoffed {internally}. ‘Well, that’s not how I would do it.’ Consult my husband & he’ll agree. I’ve balked at poor manners and styles of discipline…and I’d be dishonest if I began proclaiming that I’d turn off that fixture within me right now. I’ve owned up to it to you & to my therapist and I’m actively working on lessening my jump to judge. Sometimes we do things to make us feel like we have one up on those around us. Strangely, this can be a comforting feeling, yet its manifestation over time is ugly both internally & externally.

Now what? Here it is: I motion for a movement where we seek to understand why moms do what they do. Assume the best. Believe that somewhere within, that mother came to her decision with some logic and belief it was best for her and her child. Let’s share our experiences–not compare them. Ask questions to learn more, not to belittle or demean.

Regularly, the conversation of birthing brings statements like, “Well, Super Woman over here without her epidural,” or  “I didn’t need the ‘Mother of the Year’ award, so I went for the epidural,” or “I couldn’t be like you. I had to get the epidural.” My choice to go natural was not a choice made to help me feel superior among women. No, I wasn’t aspiring for any accolades. Yes, I’m aware that no trophy or medal is bestowed upon those who forego birthing interventions. And, if you chose to have an intervention, don’t feel small or diminished or embarrassed around me. I made my choice for me and Lucy. Reasons why I went natural: I wanted the experience, I’m a little untrusting of the medical field, and my mom did it, so I thought I could do it, too.

I’m moving each step with confidence and acceptance of myself–which enables me to be more accepting of others. I know the judgement and nose-turning will unlikely change, but my mindset and actions can. Let’s all–especially those of the mommy variety–be more open and understand the ol’ phrase that “One size does not fit all.” Perhaps with this, we’ll be free to be and feel ok when we misstep and even feel ok enough to share it. Fingers crossed.