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”.
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.
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.