The thing I didn't know before I became a mother was there was two separate worlds of parenting: the real one where people were only occasionally crazy and over-the-top about their personal parenting choices, and the virtual world of mommy groups, where this attitude is the rule, rather than the exception. When I had my first son, I was stunned: Bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, vaccination and circumcision vs. non-vaccination and no circumcision. Every parenting decision that exists seems to be split up into two groups; this group against this one. Being an extremely new mom, I felt defensive, confused, angry, and a little overwhelmed. What was I supposed to think of these radical woman who had strong opinions about everything I did or didn't do. I felt I had to explain myself at every corner to strangers I'd never met. So now, after the birth of my second child, and the arrival of my step-son into my life, I am going to affirm my way of doing things. Having only been a mother for 3 short years, I'd still consider myself a new mother, and perhaps I need to set things straight in my own mind about what kind of mother I am.

  • First off, I am a formula feeding mother. Both boys, exclusively fed formula. This was probably the biggest area of conflicting in my own mind. The hard truth is I really didn't want to breastfeed. I know that's the thing we formula feeding moms are never supposed to say; we're supposed to give a long explanation of why we made our descion. I had my excuse when my first son was born: he was in the NICU for a whole 5 days, and he wasn't latching. When I fervently explained myself on the mommy websites, my reason was quickly rejected. I could have tried harder, I was selfish, lazy, and really unfit for motherhood. In hindsight, those crazy women were right, I could have tried harder. I just didn't want to. When my second son was born, I went into it thinking I was going to be successful this time. I HAD let my oldest down and done him a disservice. Then the same thing happened: I hated the experience. I was stuck on a couch it felt like all day, watching my older boys play without me. I felt isolated, alone, and exhausted. This time, I  felt no guilt buying that first can of formula. What I felt was relief. I am proud of my choice, and I regret nothing. My kids are healthy and happy, and in five years when they go out into the world (if you can consider kindergarten "the world"), what they were fed the first year of their lives will be completely irrelevant. In my opinion, it's what we feed them after that first year that really matters.
  • All my kids have all their vaccinations. I have always felt strongly about this issue, and even though I don't necessarily condemn those parents who choose not to vaccinate, I will never make choose to withhold a vaccine for a serious disease because of grassroots hype about vaccines being dangerous (not that all parents who choose not to vaccinate do so for this reason, only the majority of the parents I have personally come into contact with). I may harbor a little resentment for non-vaccinating parents and their children who would be bringing eradicated diseases back into prevalence, but we all have to make our choice. I would never tell another parent they need to do things a certain way. I may think it in secret, but I try my best not to say it out loud.
  • Both boys slept in our rooms till they were a few months old, then off to their own rooms they go. Co-sleeping can be a good for some, but for us, it's just stressful, and uncomfortable. I would also like a little time without the kids around. Sleeping seems like the most logical time to be away from them. I don't really know where the idea that you have to be with your baby every second of every day or they will somehow be damaged came from, but I don't buy it.
  • Neither of my boys are circumcised. I never thought that would be something I would share on the Internet, and it's surely the reason I will end up ending my online life when they get older, but now that they're babies I don't think they mind me saying that. I didn't circumcise them, not because I feel it's barbaric (the favorite adjective of online mommys who are anti-circumcising) but for the simple reason that I didn't feel it was necessary. However my stepson and my husband are both cut and they don't seem to be traumatised to their core.
  • I use a leash/harness on my older son. He's almost three and no matter what any mom says, no toddler has the mental capacity, nor the impulse control to stay by mom and never let go of her hand. Besides, can anyone tell me how holding hands, or even a stroller is better than letting a child run as free as the leash will allow? Both those things call for restraint of the child in some way.
  • Last but definitely not least, I consider myself a "freerange" mom (thanks for the term  Lenore Skenazy). My older son walks to and from school everyday, plays around our block, *gasp* alone, and has not been kidnapped by pedophiles yet. My almost 3 year old plays in our backyard alone. I get lots of lectures, not from online moms but from the old people that live in our block. Go figure.

I happen to consider myself a pretty good mom. I don't think a single one choice can permanently damage kids for life. But if it does at least my kids will have something to talk to their therapist about

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Comments:

3monk...
Apr. 28, 2011 at 10:36 PM Love his honest this post is! It's great that you are so confident in your choices.

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