Dear Moms, Give Yourself a Break
When my baby was born, in the hospital the doctors told me that my baby was tongue-tied. Being a new mom, I didn’t really know what that meant except what the doctors told me: that it would probably go away on its own and that it might affect breastfeeding. I took my baby home and had a lot of struggles with breastfeeding. The baby would eat for an hour at a time and fall asleep feeding but wake as soon as we put him down to bed unsettled. We went to the one week doctor’s appointment and the baby had lost a little bit of weight. The doctor assured me that this was okay, that he should gain all of the weight by his two week appointment. By his two week appointment, he still hadn’t gained all of his weight back so the doctor said that I needed to supplement with formula until he gained enough weight. With the added formula, he was able to gain enough weight, but after being on formula for a week, he wouldn’t go back to just breastfeeding. He was always unsatisfied, I still tried and he would still eat for an hour to an hour and a half and then still need a bottle. Finally, at the two month appointment, I told the doctor that they needed to clip the baby’s tongue and they finally did. He was never able to go back to just breastfeeding but feeding became a lot easier after that. By six months, my baby would only take a bottle. I did suffer some guilt for this. I had always planned on just breastfeeding my baby. I knew that breastfeeding is best and anyone that I told about my problems said that I just needed to figure out how to get the baby to breast feed. Breastfeeding stressed me out and the stress was heightened when I thought about the lack of health benefits that my baby was getting because I couldn’t breast feed him as well as I wanted to. I had to realize that my baby was happier and more content when he was full and content and I couldn’t give that to him on my own.
There are so many voices telling moms what they should or shouldn’t do. That you are a bad mom if you work, or a bad mom if you don’t work to make money for the family. That you are a bad mom if you sleep train your baby, or you are a bad mom if you sleep with your baby. That you are a bad mom if you home school your child, or a bad mom if you send your kids to public school, or a bad mom if you let your kids eat sugar, the list goes on and on. What those “voices” fail to remember is that this child is yours. You are the mom who is raising this child and knows this child the best. You as the mom knows what is best for your child. You know what will make your child thrive and grow. You know your abilities and what you can do. Your talents and likes and dislikes. I think what makes a great mom is one who loves her children and does what she thinks is best. If you do what you do for your children in love, then you are doing your best and what is even better and more important is that these acts of love are coming from their mother – not someone else. And that is what children need.
You also need to remember, that as a mom you have certain talents and abilities that are yours. You can’t expect to mother and be able to do the same thing as the lady down the street or even how your friend or sister or own mother mothered. You lose a bit of yourself when you are just trying to do things that other people have done. Think of your talents and what you like to do and use those as you are raising your children. My mom loves the rain and loves doing silly fun things so some of my favorite memories are when it would be pouring down rain and she would have us grab our rain boots and we would go splashing in the puddles or we would wash the cars in the rain. I remember one time when it was super windy outside, we grabbed some bed sheets and played in the wind. My mom was never too concerned if the house was a little messy, she just liked to let us play and get into things so I remember having a flower fight while we were making cookies or building forts in the living room and leaving them up overnight or building villages out of boxes in the family room and leaving them up for a week. My husband’s mother always has a beautiful, spotless house. My husband always loved this and appreciated his mom for keeping the house clean and teaching him how to have a beautiful home himself. I am grateful for this as well! I say this, because my mom and my husband’s mom have very different talents and skills and these differences raised us in different ways, but we both loved our time at home and think our mothers did amazing jobs. There is no right way to do it and when we realize this, and use our individual talents, we will enjoy our job as mothers instead of feeling bad that we can’t do what another mother does.Feeling bad about what we can or can’t do does more harm to us and to our mothering abilities than good.
I think what we need to do as moms is to just look inward instead of outward to realize our worth as mothers. If you are having a hard time remembering what a great job you are doing, try thinking of all of the things you are doing as a mom – even if it is as simple as keeping your kids fed and their diapers clean. The more you do this, the more you will realize all that you are doing. Stop paying attention to articles saying that you should do one thing or another. I had a friend on Facebook that kept posting articles about how we shouldn’t sleep train our kids but that we should let them sleep with us. We did sleep train our baby and it was one of the best things that we could’ve done. It helped my husband and I have time at night to ourselves to get recharged and ready for the next day. It made me a better mom because before, I felt like I was just taking care of the baby all the way up to when I went to bed and then I would wake up the next day and just do it again and it was hard on me to not get a little break for myself. Having the baby sleep with me would have made me a worse mom, I think, and it has been a lot healthier for me and my husband and my baby. He actually enjoys sleeping in his bed and if I bring him into my bed to feed him and we both fall asleep, he always wakes up an hour or two later crying until he gets back into his own bed. This has worked for us and been very good for us, but this friend on Facebook has different opinions and that is okay. I had to stop myself from reading these things because I would feel bad about myself and I suggest the same for you. Don’t read things that will just make you feel bad about what you are doing as a mom! Do what you feel is best for your child and you because you can find all sorts or articles telling you one thing or another. It is good to do research, but after you have decided what you feel is best, stick with it! It is also important to have someone who stands by your decisions. For me, this is my husband. It was so important for me when I was going through all of my breastfeeding problems to have him by my side supporting me no matter what I decided to do. If you don’t have a husband – a mother, sister, or friend – someone you confide in – is important to have so that you don’t feel alone and you feel supported in your decisions as a mother.
Whether you are a mom that bottle feeds your baby or breastfeeding your baby, sleep training or not. One that gets up every morning and does your makeup and hair or if you just manage to shower by the end of the day. One that takes your kids on excursions all the time or prefers to stay home. One that naps while the kids nap or gets a ton done while the kids nap. I hope that you remember that the most important thing is to love your kids. If you truly do that, then you are doing the best you can and you are doing a wonderful job. No one can do it better than you because they are your kids and you are their mom.