And in this one the Americans would win. Hands down. Every single time. By a HUGE margin.
I am-of course-talking about people judging parents.
It’s also known as “mommy wars”, since women (particularly the actual moms, which is weird to me) are the ones who generally perpetuate this trend. I can’t stand it.
There has recently been a huge influx of media stories in which parents (again, mostly mothers) have done something to warrant a bad parent rap. Okay, now for some I can certainly understand this. Take Casey Anthony-perfect example. Or Jodi Rock. She’s the 19-year-old mom who decided that it’d be a great idea to burn her 15-month old son’s genitals with a hair straightener. Or as dads go, Desmond Hatchett would be a prime example of a bad apple of the parenting world. He has 30 kids (he’s only 33) with 11 different women and is seeking a break from his child support payments. Okay, I have to put a little blame on the women in that case too, but the point still stands.
There are legitimately bad parents out there who screw their kids up every single day and make no apologies for it. Yeah, those deserve the bad press.
But the parents out there (like my husband and I, for instance) who are parenting their children, loving them, feeding them, clothing them and just doing the best that they can…parents like THIS seem to be in the line of fire more and more.
Take a look at sites like BabyCenter or DiaperSwappers and you’ll see it everywhere. Women get up on their high horses to preach to other women about how they’re doing everything wrong. These same women are obviously saints and have never done a single thing wrong ever. (Note: sarcasm is a useful tool for me.) It astounds me the things that people nitpick about.
Let’s take breastfeeding. This highly controversial issues (Thanks Time Magazine!) was only compounded by the image of a young, hot woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old (who actually looked 6 or 7). The headline of “Are you mom enough?” just added fuel to an already raging fire. Everybody KNOWS that breastfeeding is best. But formula feeding is perfectly acceptable. My view on this is that if a baby is being fed, no matter how, and is obviously happy and thriving…then why is it anyone’s business how that baby is getting its food? I just don’t understand. I’ll even share my whole breastfeeding experience as an example. (Aren’t I generous??)
My first son was born and had to go to the NICU for 3 weeks. I was 22 at the time. After being induced twice, 3 days of labor, hardly any sleep, no food, and a horrific delivery that involved forceps, suction and some ungodly tearing that would make the strongest out there cringe…all I wanted to do was see my baby. Who had been rushed away from me minutes after I’d delivered him. While my husband slept that night, I ventured into the NICU to spend some time with our firstborn. While there, the nurse stopped me before I even reached his bassinet and started giving me the third degree about why I hadn’t brought her any pumped milk yet.
My genius response was “Uh, what?”
THAT answer didn’t go over too well with Nurse Pissy Pants (her eternal name in this household). I was then treated to a full 25 minute tirade of how irresponsible I was, and didn’t I want the best start for my baby, and blah blah blah. Honestly I tuned her out about 6 minutes in. All the while I’m standing about 6 feet away from my baby’s bassinet and all I want to do is see him. But no. About 15 minutes into her tirade I just burst into tears, which I think was completely justified. And yet she still continued to berate me for another 10 minutes, after which she forcibly made me exit the NICU and told me not to return until I had breast milk for her.
Uh huh. Well, the nurse on my floor saw me as I was fleeing (yes, fleeing is definitely the correct word usage here) back to my room and asked what was wrong. I recounted the story and let me tell you, she was livid. She called up to the NICU, had that nurse somehow gone and let me go back up to see Ryan. She also had a hospital grade pump waiting for me in my room with a lactation consultant to help when I got back (this was about 4 in the morning, mind you).
So I began my pumping journey. This particular venture involved waking up every 2 hours to pump. I didn’t make nearly enough at first. In fact, there was only about a 2 week period (while he was in the NICU) that I produced enough that formula didn’t need to be supplemented. And I felt like such a failure. It only got worse when we got home. Ryan had a G-Tube put in before he left the hospital and that’s how he was fed. Not only did I have to wake up every 2 hours to pump, but we also had to keep track of his feedings. Compounding the problem, he had reflux–badly. Which meant medication. Which meant more stress. Needless to say, my supply tanked. At one point I was trying anything to get my supply up. I was taking a prescription galactagogue and 6 different natural supplements. All in all it worked out to be 72 pills a day. And I still wasn’t producing enough. Compound this with a support system (family and friends) who were already nitpicking on every single parenting decision we made and I just felt SO guilty.
Fast forward to our second son being born. The pregnancy was harder, but the delivery was fairly easy, although there was more ungodly tearing. Not quite as bad, but I think any tearing in that particular region is ungodly. He latched right away and thus began a beautiful breastfeeding relationship.
Psh. That would be way too easy. I could not for the life of me get how to position him. It took forever. Then, his latch wasn’t exactly right and my nipples were killing me. Another 3 weeks goes by and we’re home. Well, I get a plugged duct. Which basically means no milk was coming out of one boob…that’s alot of backup and it hurt. Like hell. I literally sat in bed and sobbed while Mike tried to massage the milk out. And this was after percocet AND motrin 800. So we had some visitors during this time (because people in my family seem incapable of listening to us when we say “now’s not a good time”). Erik was asleep in his bouncer (mind you he was 3 weeks old) and I was propped up on the couch bed. One visitor, who shall remain nameless, listened to what had been going on, ridiculed me about actually being on pain medication while breastfeeding and then reached to pick Erik up. After waking up a sleeping baby, she went on to ask why he was so sleepy (HELLO?!?! 3 WEEK OLD HERE!) and cooed to him that we were turning him into a druggie baby.
Mike just about lost it. I was in enough pain and upset enough as it was and all I did was start to tear up. Mike slammed the dish was washing down in the sink and said “You DO realize that he’s 3 weeks old and that babies tend to sleep a lot, right?”
Now this particular visitor is a teacher and only breastfed her son for 3 months way back in the 80′s. Her head shot up so fast I thought she’d get whiplash and I was honestly worried that she’d drop Erik because she was so shocked.
After stuttering and stammering about how she “didn’t mean it” and “that didn’t come out right” (uh really?), she and Mike went outside to the hallway to “talk”. Meanwhile, our other visitor who is a close family member of mine, actually had the nerve to start getting mad at Mike.
Needless to say, that one took awhile to blow over.
But breastfeeding continued….probably because I am just SO stubborn. But Erik is now 15 months old and he’s still breastfeeding, so obviously we jumped over those hurdles.
Now comes the fun part. People were berating me for not breastfeeding Ryan and wanting to make sure that I breastfed Erik. Alright, not their business, but whatever. These same people who were so adamant about me breastfeeding are also the ones who couldn’t tolerate the fact that I breastfed in public. Or the fact that I kept going after Erik learned to walk (why THAT was the magic cut off, I have no idea). Or that I kept going after a year. Even now I still get snarky comments from anyone and everyone about how I’m STILL breastfeeding and just what am I going to do when the new baby comes? I calmly tell them that I’ll tandem feed. It’s entirely possibly to nurse a baby and a toddler, which I know many people are not aware of. However, the way people look at me like I’ve sprouted a vagina on my forehead annoys me a bit.
That’s just one example and there are hundreds upon thousands of women with similar or worse stories. My point is, both my kids were fed. Both thrived. Who the hell cares how that happened?
Another parenting decision that is apparently way too out there for most people to deal with is the fact that we cloth diaper. It’s harder now since Ryan’s in PreK and they don’t allow cloth, but as much as we can we do. We will continue with Baby Girl and it’s fine. I have no idea why people have so much to say on the issue of how my children have their pee contained. Seriously. Or the fact that we try to give as many natural and whole foods as we can. We pretty much banned high fructose corn syrup in our house and one family member had a fit about it. Apparently the “good” juice all had high fructose corn syrup in it and we were depriving our children of “what they needed”. We co-sleep with Erik. We got so much crap because we didn’t do it with Ryan. It was impossible due to his G-Tube needing to hang all night. I’ve heard everything from “You’re going to roll over on him and suffocate him” to “It’s just not right. There’s a reason cribs were invented” to “You’ll never get him out now.” In most countries co-sleeping is actually the norm. Statistically, you’re actually LESS likely to roll over on a baby, unless you’re under the influence of some outside factor like drugs or alcohol. And he’ll sleep alone when he’s ready. I don’t see the need to kick him out just for our convenience. And don’t even get me started on people openly talking about our sex life. As one person so tactfully put it “Maybe now you’ll stop humping and having babies long enough to take of the ones you’ve already got.” Sigh.
??????? I’m so very puzzled by this whole phenomenon. Mike either says that people are just that narcissistic or that it’s all social networking’s fault. It does feel that way sometimes though. People feel that they have the right to question everything another person does. And while that’s great in some cases (drunk drivers, drug users, psychopaths, etc.), parents all do things differently. And that’s ok.
I think, and this is just my opinion, that people need to pull their heads out of their asses and fuck off. But then again, that’s just me.