Cry it out vs. Attachment Parenting, Cloth Nappies vs. Disposable, Bottlefeeding vs. Breastfeeding, Working Mum vs. Stay at home Mum, the list goes on. These are all things mothers commonly debate. But my question is why? Why force your views or opinions onto another Mother? What gives you the right to judge another Mother and tell them what they are doing isn’t right because it isn’t what you would do? Why do you feel that it is okay to make another mother feel terrible about themselves because they aren’t parenting their child how you would like them to parent?
These are all questions I am constantly asking myself. Why? Because all over social media, there are constantly arguments about what parenting technique is best, who parents better, what is considered “cruel” and what is considered being a “helicopter mum” (apparently a helicopter mum is someone who hovers over their child not letting them be independent). My simple statement is WHO CARES? As long as the child’s needs are being met and he/she is loved and obviously not being abused then why is it anyone else’s business how a Mother parents her child? Surely I cannot be the only one who feels this way? As a first time mum, I have bared the brunt of a lot of criticism because of course, “I have no idea what I’m doing” and yes most of the time that is true. I learn new things about being a parent every single day. However, just because this is my first child doesn’t make me an incompetent mother, nor does it give anyone else the right to tell me what I am doing is wrong. Sure I make mistakes, we all do, however that is how we learn and grow, in any part of our life, not just as a parent. I have always been of the opinion that being a Mother is hard and as Mothers, we need to support each other, not put each other down. What about those of us that don’t fit it into any of those categories? I am going to give a brief insight into my parenting methods so you can see what I mean.
I breastfed my son for the first 6 weeks of his life. Not only that, but whilst my son spent 3 weeks in special care in hospital, I pumped every 3 hours and had to take my milk to the hospital twice a day. At about 5 and a half weeks, my milk supply dropped dramatically and I had to wean my son and put him on formula. We discovered about 3 weeks after weaning that my son has a severe lip tie, and if it had been cut I could have continued breastfeeding. To say I was devastated doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. I still feel saddened by the fact that I cannot breastfeed. So does that make me a bottlefeeding mother or a breastfeeding one? Just because you see a mother formula-feeding her child, doesn’t mean it is a choice she wanted to make. Nor does it mean there is anything wrong with choosing to bottle feed over breastfeeding. Giving a mother filthy looks while she formula-feeds her child at the supermarket is certainly not going to change whether she breastfeeds or not. It simply makes you look like a judgemental cow.
I am very lucky in the fact that my son has always settled himself to sleep. Rarely do I have to rock him to sleep unless he is teething. However, sometimes he is over tired and will protest cry because he thinks he doesn’t need sleep. As I am his mother, I know that he is fed, changed, not too hot or cold and isn’t in any pain, therefor I will leave him to cry in his cot for anywhere up to 15 minutes before going in and picking him up. I check on him every few minutes to make sure he is okay. Some may call this “cruel” and using the “cry it out method”, however I call it doing what works for my child. If you aren’t there with me every single night then you have no idea what my son’s cry sounds like, nor do you know how often I check on him or how it makes me feel having to let my child cry. Now, I may seem like a “cry it out mum” but I’ll have you know that I cant handle my child crying/whinging for much longer than 5 minutes whilst he is awake during the day and have often been told “you hold him too much, stop carrying him around, he isn’t a handbag”, these comments were from family members and I brush them off as they don’t mean any harm and are just trying to help, however if it came from a stranger I would be furious. So because I hold my son a lot during the day does that make me a “helicopter mum”? But wait, that cant be if I let my child “cry it out” at night time? Are you starting to get my drift here…
I am a cloth nappying mumma, as well as a disposable nappy mum. I do what works on the day for me. Whilst I care about the environment, I don’t feel guilty about using disposable nappies. In turn, I don’t think using cloth nappies are disgusting. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion most definitely, however there is a huge difference between sharing your opinion and being nasty and judgemental. I have seen many arguments on forums about cloth nappying, whether it be that a mother feels using disposables is “wrong” or whether they think using cloth is “gross”. If you aren’t the one doing it, who cares? Not your child, not your problem.
Now, when it comes to child abuse obviously that is a whole different kettle of fish. However, this is clearly not what I am talking about in this blog. I honestly don’t understand why people have to be so damn judgemental. By sharing a glimpse of how I parent my child, I think I have shown that you don’t always know what “type” of mother someone is and how ridiculous it is that Mothers are given labels and are put into stereotypes.
Studies show that 1 in 7 mothers in Australia are diagnosed with Post Natal Depression (PND)*, I am one of those women. I honestly believe that some of it has to do with how we are judged and compared as mothers. For me, my PND stems from severe anxiety (unrelated to having a baby) but also the fact that I constantly feel like I am not good enough. I don’t bake as much as this Mum does, my house isn’t as clean as that Mum’s is, I am constantly comparing myself to other Mum’s and wondering why I am not doing as well as they are. I have a friend who has recently had her third baby, I had been thinking of her constantly since she had her bub hoping she was doing okay and wasn’t struggling, as with just one child I found getting anything done very difficult. After visiting her recently, she told me how amazing she was doing. Her newborn baby was sleeping through the night most nights, breastfeeding was going great and she was still managing to bake, cook dinner, take her child to school, do the gardening and have an incredibly clean house. I am ashamed to say that when she told me this I immediately felt sick and had to try my best not to break down and cry right in front of her. Whilst I am so glad that she is doing well, I instantly felt jealous and like the most useless wife and mother in the world. Why am I struggling so much when I only have one child and she is doing amazing with 3? Why is my son still waking every 4 hours when her newborn is sleeping through? Why do I care? I honestly feel like the reason why I compare myself to her and other mothers is because I feel like I am constantly being judged by society. If women just supported each other instead of constantly having a go at each other, I honestly believe that the amount of women with PND would decrease dramatically.
I may cop a lot of flak for writing this blog, however I feel like it needed to be said. The message I wanted to get out there by writing this is to SUPPORT EACH OTHER! Mothers often don’t show that they are struggling for fear of being judged, which can turn into PND. My advice is to ask the Mums you know whether they are okay. Ask if they need help (only if this isn’t going to add stress to yourself) and if you are the one struggling ASK FOR HELP! For me personally, I don’t have much of a support base here. I only know one other Mum (who is so nice) but we are only newly friends and I don’t feel right dumping my crap onto her, but I wish I had more people to rely on. I feel like it would make the world of difference. If you are a judgemental mum, then cut it out. It doesn’t help anyone and most times you are doing more damage than good (do you really think condemning a mother for using disposable nappies is going to make them want to use cloth? Yep I don’t think so either).
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*Information obtained from the following link http://www.panda.org.au/images/factsheets/Women_and_Postnatal_Depression_Fact_Sheet_14.pdf