At Least 10%

13 Dec

Updated to add – what I write about below is my opinion about what is right for ME. Each mom is entitled to her own choices. Let’s remember that in the comments section, please.

Ok bear with me here. I have to rant. So much so that even though both Bunny and I are sick, I told Shmerson he’s on his own for a little while because momma’s gotta blog.

I’ll try my best to keep it organized, but I apologize in advance if this is a little all over the place.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped speaking with a person who I considered a very close friend. We stopped speaking because I had the audacity to suggest to her that she stop breastfeeding, or at least give up some responsibility to her husband so she can get some sleep.

She told me that this was encouraging her to “be neglectful”.

Seriously.

Today, a person who I’ve been friends with for 17 (!) years posted an article on FB about women who are proud formula feeders and in the post, she said how selfish they are for doing it. She mentioned this didn’t count for women who tried and failed brea.st feeding. Yet still, I felt like she was attacking me. You know why?

Because there’s a very good chance, that if we manage to make it to baby number 2, I will brea.st feed for no more than a month and then purposefully quit, even if it’s going well.

Yep. That’s right. I will give my baby the very important immunizations he or she will need, and then I will stop and give them formula.

You know what else? Since the day Bunny was born, I have not missed a single shower. There are also three nights a week in which I get a good 8 hour stretch of sleep.

Go ahead. Tell me I’m a bad mom. Tell me I’m neglectful. I fucking dare you. I dare you to challenge me about not loving my child enough because I have the audacity to hand over some responsibility to my husband. To go back to work. To choose to bottle feed, because that way I am not tied to a pump or to the house, and I can take my xan.ax when I need to and go back to work more easily.

And sleep through the night every once in a while.

That does not make me a bad mother. In fact, I think it makes me a fucking amazing mother.

I am painfully aware of the fact that I am the most prominent female figure in my daughter’s life. I am her primary role model. She can choose to be inspired by me, or she can choose to do everything possible to be different from me.

I can’t help but look at the relationship I have with my mother, and make the decision that I will do EVERYTHING different with my child.

My mother stayed at home. My mother gave my brother and I all of herself. Literally. Everything.

So much so that now, at the age of 64, my mother has nothing except us. She lives for us and through us.

So much so that when I am sad or upset, her reaction, before comforting me, is to say “you’re killing me.” That’s right folks – I can’t go to my mother for comfort when I’m hurting without worrying that I’m hurting her in the process.

True story.

And you know what? That is a horrible, horrible thing that is incredibly unfair to me and my brother, and puts way too much pressure on us.

My mother is an incredibly talented interior designer. She let that go to give everything to us. To this day she will skip meals if I so much as hint that I need her for a few hours. She will not sleep. She will skip doctor’s appointments. She will neglect herself to take care of me, my brother, and our children.

I hate it. I hate it so much that most of the time I avoid asking her for help if I know she has other things going on, because I don’t want her to neglect her own needs.

I’m not saying I’m not grateful. I love my mother more than anything. She is an amazing woman. But you know what the happiest times I had with her were?

The two years that she worked outside the home.

I never questioned my mother’s love for me when she worked. It made our quality time much more quality. And I admired her. She was making a good living, and rocking at her job. I learned to cook so I could help her with meals and found that I had a knack for it, which I nurture to this day. She carried herself differently. It was awesome.

Then my dad pressured her to quit and she did (they are very old fashioned that way).

And again – it was all about us. She lost herself.

I do not want that to be my daughter and I. I want my daughter to see a woman who is not afraid to take care of herself. Who rocks at her job. Who has a life independent of hers. I want her to feel free to live her life for herself – not for me – because I have a life of my own. I want her to always feel free to ask me to help her, and to know that I will not forget to also help myself.

I think anyone who has read this blog and who knows how hard I fought to bring my daughter in this world would not think for a moment to question my undying, eternal love for this little person who has entered my life after 3.5 years of hell.

Anyone who knows how I didn’t leave the house for 6 months just to keep her safely inside me. Anyone who knows that I ate the same food every single day for three months to keep my blood sugar levels perfectly balanced so as not to hurt her. Anyone who sees my face fill with pure unbridled joy at the moment I see her after being away for more than a few minutes.

But if you look at the cold hard facts of my parenting style, there are women out there who would actually call me neglectful.

Because I bottle feed.

Because I let my husband wake up for feeds 3 nights out of the week.

Because I take the time to shower.

Because I work outside the home two days a week – and yes – sometimes even stay later than planned because I’m rocking it and being really productive, and that’s important.

Because when Monty Python announced their reunion shows I didn’t think twice and I bought two tickets, knowing full well that it would mean leaving a nine month old baby with her grandparents for a few days while her father and I go to London. Because seriously – it’s Monty Fucking Python. Will I miss her? Of course I will! But she won’t remember those few days, and then when she gets older I will have an uber-cool story to tell her the first time we sit down together and watch “The Holy Grail”.

Totally worth it.

Do I miss my daughter when I’m out? Of course.  Do I sometimes think I could do a “better” job at certain things than her father or her grandparents can when it comes to taking care of her? Yes. I admit I do. But I let them do it anyway, because I realize that sometimes I need a break.

But does that make me a bad mother? Hell to the fucking no. I’m an amazing mother. I know there are times I don’t feel like I am, but when I look at things objectively, I fucking rock. I spent six months in hell to keep her safely inside me. I fought through doctors and bureaucracy for 2 months to get proper treatment for her reflux. When I spend quality time with her, she has my full attention. I never pick up a phone or look at a screen during those times. I stimulate her and educate her and encourage her and love her unconditionally. And tell her that and show her that at every opportunity that I can.

But I also love her enough to live my own life. To understand my limitations. To understand that giving her 100% of myself is doing her a disservice. I need to keep 10% for me, and sometimes even more. Because that’s the kind of woman I want her to be.

And I am her role model.

I am not her slave.

I am her mother. And I love her more than anything in the world.

And as time passes I realize one thing more and more:

Loving her – also means loving myself.

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37 Responses to “At Least 10%”

  1. melissa December 13, 2013 at 18:52 #

    WOW! Every word of that was awesome, good for you!

  2. pjsarecomfyn December 13, 2013 at 19:05 #

    Girl, the older and more experienced I become as a mom the more I realize there are about a billion different ways to mother. No one can say what is right or wrong. And those that think they can are trying to get back pats to help with their own insecurities. Bitches be crazy basically. I’ve no doubt your are the best mother you can be.

  3. Amy December 13, 2013 at 19:20 #

    Rock on, girl! I regret that I suffered for 7 full weeks – and frustrated my son – because of my obsession with breastfeeding…breastfeeding a child who just couldn’t get the hang of it because of the ties he was born with. The day after I finally weaned, a huge weight was lifted. (I’m sure the Zo.loft I also started taking that day for PPD and PPA helped.) I, too, showered daily, even though the were quick and guilt-ridden if Asher was crying. I do not feel human until I’m showered and dressed. I was full of opinions about how I would feed and diaper and attend to my son. The reality is, sometimes we have to make other choices for the sake of our sanity.

    I sure wish I had a DH I could count on to help…that would be even more awesome (and I’d probably be an even better mother for it).

    Hugs!

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 19:33 #

      I’m sorry your husband can’t help out. I truly realize I hit the jackpot with that and I’m very grateful for it. Hugs!

  4. Jennifer December 13, 2013 at 19:23 #

    As someone who has a 1-year-old and works full-time (and frankly doesn’t usually miss my child when I’m working), I certainly wouldn’t question your parenting. But your blog rubs me the wrong way. There are lots of great SAHMs who occasionally miss showers, even if your Mom didn’t happen to be one of them. My Mom stayed home and was really the best mother ever. Also, while no breastfeeder should judge you for using formula, and your FB friend is ridiculous (I suggest you unfriend), you seem judgy towards committed breastfeeders to me.

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 19:25 #

      Certainly not! If you choose to BF good for you!
      That’s my point- everyone has a right to mother the way they see fit. And my mother was and is amazing. It’s just not the kind of mother I want to be.

  5. denise100709 December 13, 2013 at 19:43 #

    Fuck yeah! that is all. Oh and I’ll add that my mother-in-law currently thinks I’m a bad mom because I won’t lie to my son about Santa. I’m not even going to respond to that.

  6. Mrs T December 13, 2013 at 20:11 #

    Yes! My mom was a SAHM too and it definitely impacted my desire to be a working mom. So I say good for you, Mo! Bunny will grow up happy and loved and know one will be able to tell whether she was formula fed or not!

  7. thecornfedfeminist December 13, 2013 at 20:15 #

    I love this post so much.

  8. Heather December 13, 2013 at 20:22 #

    I guess I’ll be in the minority, but I breastfeed and I’m proud of it. It has been so hard and I’ve needed support. People think I’m nuts to continue so long (my son is now 18mo). But there are definitely health benefits.
    You need to do what is best for you. I agree, if you are feeling productive outside and that is making you a better mom, go for it. But you don’t need to discourage those who have chosen to take the breastfeeding path.
    But remember there are those of us who have made the decision to stay at home (and even do a bit of work from home during nap time) so as to be available to breastfeed. It is flipping hard to have that burden all on yourself, but you know what? I’m still every bit as good a mother. I still manage to sleep and shower. I feed and go back to sleep. The oxytocin released in breastfeeding actually makes you feel tired. Plus it’s a comfort to Nicky having mom so physically close in that way.

    Let’s not let the “mommy wars” cloud what is important here and just support each other. Parenthood is hard enough.

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 20:24 #

      that’s exactly my point heather! Every woman is entitled to her own choices.

  9. Suz December 13, 2013 at 20:59 #

    Sigh. It sucks how we can’t just be supportive of each other as women and as moms. It’s a damn shame you can’t even rant about being a mom in your own space without backlash. The big picture here is it doesn’t matter how babies are fed so long as they ARE FED, ya know?

    As moms, it’s our responsibility to keep our identities separate from our children. It isn’t fair for us to put that on our kids, and it’ll lead to future problems like codependency. My MIL is still having a hard time finding her identity, and her youngest kid moved out 7 years ago (my hubby left 11 yrs ago). DH said her password at work was “EmptyNest2″, unhealthy much? I really wish she’d get a therapist and some meds so she could be a happier person – and lower maintenance.

    I got off on a tangent there… Mo, I don’t know if you read xojane or not but they had an article on breastfeeding last week that complements your rant nicely.

    http://tinyurl.com/lazj9kj

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 21:14 #

      Thanks Suz! And I don’t read xojane. Thanks for the link, it’s a great article!

  10. Amy December 13, 2013 at 21:27 #

    Brava. I love this so much. I feel these conflicts and pressure coming from both within me and from outside forces, all the time. I think I haven’t wanted to stop breastfeeding (we barely are anymore, but still, we are) because I do work full time out of the house, and I do take one night a week for a “girls’ night in” that takes me away from him, and there are even some weeks when I allow myself an additional bonus night or even two if there is something going on that’s too good to pass up. I constantly have thoughts like, well, if I am not home with him because I’m working then I shouldn’t take these regular nights out/away, and be away even more, but that is crap. It’s not always easy to believe I am doing the right thing because the right thing for me is the right thing for him, too, even if it means I miss a bedtime or even two or three a week and could be called ‘selfish.’ If some ‘me’ time keeps me [closer to] sane, I would be an idiot not to take it, especially when his father’s more than willing and enthusiastic about having boys’ time. High five, Mo, double high five. Good rant. :)

  11. Donna December 13, 2013 at 21:43 #

    Alright Mo, I don’t want to incur the wrath, but I must point out that, though I don’t agree with the sentiment of what your friend posted on FB, it does seem like maybe she got her feelings hurt when you were encouraging her to stop breastfeeding or get more help, just like she hurt your feelings when she posted that article. Unfortunately, it takes some of us first-time moms more time than others to learn to be very sensitive when talking about the hot-button mommy issues such as breastfeeding/formula, etc. Especially when all the hormones are still raging. I just really hate the idea of the two of you losing a friendship over this. Maybe you could communicate to her that the article hurt your feelings, just like you maybe hurt her feelings, and come to some agreement that everyone be very careful when discussing this subject. But having said that, I totally agree and support you’re right to rant, we mothers definitely need to learn to be less judgy. It is so hard to be a mom and we need to support each other not criticize each other. Live and let live, Mommas!

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 21:48 #

      Hi Donna, thanks for your support. Actually the friend who posted the article and I hashed it out and we’re good. I am very sad about my other friend. It’s very hard…

  12. cassiedash December 13, 2013 at 22:03 #

    I read your blog regularly, but don’t often comment. I do want to say, though, that you ARE an amazing mother. It’s obvious how much you love your daughter and I know she will realize that as she grows up. I fully support breastfeeding (and am currently breastfeeding my daughter, though she occasionally gets a bottle of my milk), but judge no one who chooses formula and I often want to slap those who do. But I do feel like I need to stick up for SAHMS here. I’m one myself and my day does revolve around my children…but there’s nothing wrong with that, if it makes me happy. I’m still a strong, independent woman and not working does not make me any less so. I do miss a shower here and there and I don’t always have time to pursue my passion for writing, but I make the sacrifice because I believe it’s the right thing for our family. I make no judgment towards those who choose otherwise, but my point is that we are all trying to do the best we can and make the right decisions. I think we (myself included) all have the tendency to be overly sensitive when we feel like we are being told we aren’t doing a great job and I hate that we are all so quick to throw each other under the bus. There’s no one right way to do this. We’re all going to make mistakes and we ARE going to mess up our children, hopefully in only small ways, but the greatness of our love will make up for it (I think?). I only wish we mothers could support each other a bit more through it all, ignoring those who bring us down and surrounding ourselves with those who lift us up.

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 22:54 #

      here here!
      I have the utmost respect for SAHM’s. I just think that it was the wrong decision for my mother, and the wrong one for me. I think a SAHM can definitely retain her identity, I just think my mom didn’t.

  13. Courtney December 13, 2013 at 22:19 #

    I would give almost anything to share the night time burden with B. And he truly tries, but only I (or rather, my boobs) can soothe Bryson. It’s maddening, especially while he’s sick or teething, or both like this week. I’m the only one up every hour, with a sore back from sitting up all night, or sleeping on my back with a baby beside me. I do shower every day, with just a few exceptions since becoming a mom 2+ years ago. Staying home is great, but I don’t care what anyone says…. You do lose quite a bit of yourself. I’ll get it back because I’m constantly aware of it and keeping it in check, but it DOES happen.

    My mom stayed home and was the opposite of your mom. She stayed home to play bridge and lunch with her friends. She was the furthest thing from a mother absorbed in her children, which is not good either.

    • Mo December 13, 2013 at 22:56 #

      Like I said in a previous reply – I don’t think being a SAHM means completely giving up your identity every time. I know you certainly make an effort to take care of you despite having 2 energetic boys. I just know me, and I know I would lose myself just like my mom, and I don’t want to do that.

      • Courtney December 14, 2013 at 03:59 #

        Oh I get it. I hope I didn’t make you feel bad! That wasn’t my intent. :)

        • Mo December 14, 2013 at 11:38 #

          Not at all Courtney don’t worry about it :-) xoxo

  14. Karin December 13, 2013 at 23:46 #

    I don’t like this post… I FUCKING LOVE this post!! You rock Mo, keep rocking it!

  15. Esperanza December 13, 2013 at 23:56 #

    I’m so happy to hear how confident you are in your mothering. That is so, so important and makes everything so much easier.

    I also have to say, I’m super jealous that you get to sleep through the night half the week. If I asked my partner to do that I fear I’d pay for it dearly with a shitty attitude from him for the rest of the day. It’s just not worth it. Plus our walls are paper thin and I’d be hearing him fumble around and getting frustrated the whole time. It would totally stress me out. I really wish he was the kind of guy who would help in that way without making a huge martyr out of himself but he’s not. Oh well, you win some you lose some. That is what sleep training is for (talk about being judged as neglectful!).

  16. nickeecoco December 14, 2013 at 00:29 #

    That last thought–that loving her means loving yourself–is something I totally agree with. Your daughter will look up to you even in moments when you have no idea that she’s doing so. It’s so important to be a happy, healthy (that includes mentally!) role model for her. Keep on doing what you’re doing, because it sounds like you are being an awesome mother who is keeping herself balanced.

  17. Theresa December 14, 2013 at 03:32 #

    Heck yeah. I work part time also. I continue to run. I still sing in the choir I joined before I had them. Heck I’ll put them on the floor to play so I can run on the treadmill or shower. And you know what? I don’t feel bad about it, because I know that attending to these things for me makes me a better mom. Rock on.

  18. Anon December 14, 2013 at 05:15 #

    This is amazing and spot on. I could not breastfeed my first – after she lost 1.5 lbs in the hospital, she only gained back 4 oz in the first 2 weeks. Those were not pleasant weeks and I refused to torture her anymore. She is the coolest kid I have ever met and after years of feeling guilt/fear over this choice, my hindsight is now 20/20 that this was absolutely the best decision for all of us.

    I have now successfully breastfed my 2nd for 6 months. He latched on immediately with zero assistance and we have had almost zero problems and it really just seems easier to continue now than to quit – but only bc I don’t want to deal with formula and bottles. And sometimes, I think I’d be a better mom if I quit. i KNOW I’d be better rested. And I know that my husband would prefer that I quit so that he could help out more. Bit of a struggle but it won’t be for too much longer.

    I also work full time and they go to daycare and your post made me realize that I may very well be a better mom for that – sometimes Monday can’t come soon enough, and I’d rather have my kids remember fun weekend me than shitty is it 5 yet where is your dad me.

    More power to you, mama, sleep and enjoy your sleep and your quality time with your well earned baby.

    Thank you.

  19. expectantmummy December 14, 2013 at 15:42 #

    As someone who was sneered at for having an emergency caesarean and then doubly sneered at for formula feeding and planning to return to work can I just say thank you so much. SAHM’s are wonderful but so are those of us who quite often have to return to work, or just downright don’t want to be a SAHM. I am in the middle of those two groups, financially we just cant and even if we could I don’t think I would want to. My daughter, like yours will hopefully learn that to work gives you an independence you can’t experience otherwise.

  20. Louisa December 14, 2013 at 22:12 #

    A wise social worker ( who worked with new moms) once told me. ” the best thing for babies are happy healthy moms”. However that happens it works. Enuff said.

    • theyellowblanket December 16, 2013 at 22:38 #

      As a therapist who works with new moms, I tell my clients that ALL the time. :)

  21. NewMom December 15, 2013 at 23:31 #

    I’ve done both, formula and breast feed. I work from home. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle of what you are talking about and I get pressure from all sides!! The decisions I made are purely financial. With baby No. 2 I am choosing to pump and bottle feed because buying formula would kill us financially (we could do it but it would suck). I work from home now (before it started b/c of health concerns for baby 1) mainly because if I went to the office almost 100% of my earnings would go to pay daycare. If we had grandparents who could be babysitters, then I would have a full time job. But all the grandparents work full time in our family. I think Moms today have to do what is right for their families, not just themselves or their babies. Every family has different needs so every Mom is different.

  22. Amanda P. December 16, 2013 at 03:18 #

    I don’t think i could possibly love this post more. And I’m with you on breastfeeding, if I have another. Bottle feeding has worked out so well for us after a hard breastfeeding experience.

  23. Alissa December 16, 2013 at 07:21 #

    Heck yeah lady. Thanks for writing this. I agree 100% with you and am glad you brought this up. Some women (and men) can be so judgemental when it comes to child rearing. I too lost the breastfeeding battle and chose to not just bottle feed my milk, but stop pumping when I went back to work at 3 months and do formula. I missed giving him that sustenance, but I am SURE he is doing perfectly fine as a formula fed baby. I do not regret my decision. It was right for me and as soon as I made this decision and followed through, I was sleeping more and became a better mom. Taking time for yourself is SO important for every reason you listed. I take the time I need, when I can, and feel it is VERY important for C to feel comfortable and secure with my family and friends. I do not want him to become a needy child who will only fall asleep for me and won’t want to be left with anyone else. When I come home from work or a night out, we are all more excited to see each other and feel balanced. I think you are right on track for a healthy and happy family. And why can’t hubby take care of his child?! Mine is the primary caregiver two days a week while I work and he is now confident and knows his child better than ever. All good things.

  24. theyellowblanket December 16, 2013 at 22:37 #

    I think that doing whatever makes YOU the most stable, happy, healthy capable mama is the most self-LESS thing you can do for your daughter. Go you! And your daughter is lucky that you’ve been so thoughtful about fostering independence in yourself and in her. :)

  25. trish December 17, 2013 at 03:53 #

    Mo, I just want to say you fucking ROCK! You are an amazing Mom, wife and working woman. I have no problems if Mom’s want to breastfeed or use formula but what I do have a problem with is the Mom’s who come back to work and demand massive amounts of “milking breaks”. I am a nurse and work 12 hour shifts. I work with a Mom of a 2 year old who is STILL breast feeding. Don’t get me wrong, do what ya gotta do but don’t make the rest of us do your work while you are milking. This woman gets an additional break every 1.5-2 hours for approximately 20 minutes each session which means for at least an hour out of the 12 hour shift we have to cover her patients. Just isn’t right. If you want to milk then milk but do it on your own damn time.
    I applaud you for setting an example for your daughter that you can be both a great Mom and successful at work. My Mom’s only job in life was to be a Mom. Don’t get me wrong, she did a great job. But even though I moved out of the house and out of state at age 18 she still claims that is her “job”. Mid 30’s now and still live out of state and that is still her “job”. It has driven a huge ax between us. I can’t stand listening to her say how busy her day was when I have worked 12 hours and she has maybe gone to the post office and read the newspaper. Hmmm. I just don’t get it. Worked when I was 6 years old but not anymore.
    Sorry for the rant but I just want to say again, you rock.

  26. kerry December 17, 2013 at 05:21 #

    amen.
    After 9 long months of high strung pregnancies, the last thing I wanted/needed was the added stress of trying to breast feed 24/7. I pumped for a few weeks and let my husband take half the feedings. I am a SAHM, but I have a nanny come daily so that I can do what I need/want to get done. Though, that still might not include a shower every day. I had to quit blogs in the beginning because they made me feel like such a failure for not BFing. But then I looked in the mirror, saw great hair and eye makeup, a law degree and decided whatever, they are just haters.
    You do what is best for you. That is the ONLY thing that matters. If BFing for 2 years makes someone feel better about themselves, so be it. It doesn’t take away from the amazing job you are doing for your family.

  27. Jonelle December 17, 2013 at 21:21 #

    Thank you, Mo. For every word of this post, thank you.

    You are a great mother. I loathe the Mommy wars that go on between breastfeeding vs, bottle-feeding, babywearing vs. non babywearing, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, non-sleeptraining, vs. sleep-training, SAHM vs. working mom. I wish they didn’t exist. The sancti-mommies out there are making it harder for the rest of us to enjoy motherhood and parent our children the way we see fit.

    I need to be reminded that 10% needs to be for me, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking that time to be away from her – even if it is only for an hour. I think that is what plagues me sometimes is that I feel guilty for wanting a break, because I fought so hard and long to be a mother. I have discovered that breaks are necessary and healthy.

    I am the only child of a single mother who worked full time. I spent all my time in daycare from the time I was 18 months old (first was one there, last one to leave) – to when I entered high school. She worked hard so that I could go to a good school and have nice things, but truthfully, I hated daycare.

    I always swore that when I had kids, I would like to stay home with them. Didn’t realize how hard it would be, but I’m glad I am able to do it.

    This post is a great reminder for me to make sure I take time for myself. Thank you!

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