Full disclosure: I’m about to go on a little bit of a rant here today. One of my favorite bloggers I follow shared some photos for her son’s first birthday. They were photos from the hospital from the day he was born. In her caption, she also mentioned the lingering feelings she has about having a c-section and mourning the birth experience she didn’t get.
That hit pretty close to home for me. She and I seemed to have had a similar birth experience. I was induced, my labor refused to progress. Around twenty hours after being induced, at 3 centimeters and holding, my doctor was ready to leave for the night, I broke down. I burst into tears and made the decision for myself and for my daughter to opt for a c-section. A year and a half later, and I still think about the decision I made. By no means do I regret it, but every time I think about the experience I had expected and what I got, my heart breaks a little.
But back to the Facebook post. Most comments were positive, sharing similar experiences and feelings. There were a few others, well meaning I’m sure, but would comment something to the effect of “Be grateful you’re even able to have babies!”
That…rubs me the wrong way just a little bit. She is allowed to have whatever feelings she would like about her birth experience. And so am I. Are we grateful that we can have children? Of course! Does that mean we can’t have feelings and opinions about our individual experiences? Absolutely not. By reminding me “Hey, it could be worse!” what I actually hear is “Hey, your feelings don’t matter!” I do my best to not be the type to be offended by everything, but sometimes I want to tell people to not bother talking if that is all they have to contribute to the conversation. When you are the person who is struggling and having a bad day, that does absolutely nothing in making you feel better or solving the problem.
Mothers are such a strange mixture of infinite strength and boundless vulnerability. We grow and carry and nurture a life within our own body for 40 long weeks, suffering through aches and pains and complications. We give birth, a miracle in itself. We can function on no sleep, breastfeed even when it’s agony. We feed them a bottle and bear the weight of mountainous guilt for things not going according to plan. We soldier on through the “baby blues” and postpartum depression and every shade of emotional turmoil in between, caring for our babies, our families, and ourselves as best we can. We cry our eyes out the first day back to work, and all over again when we see them that first evening, noticing changes we were sure weren’t there that morning. We put them to bed every night, hoping and praying we’re not completely screwing it all up.
Then we go online or into the world to share our experiences, desperate to find that we are normal and not alone in this role of Motherhood. And then someone tries to nullify our feelings, pointing out how it could always be worse. I personally experienced this on a parenting message board while sharing my feelings and struggles with breastfeeding and my decision to stop. I was met with swift and harsh judgement. So much so that I never logged onto that site ever again. I already felt so frail and so lost and so inept as a mother in those early weeks, and people I didn’t even know judged me mercilessly and shattered me into pieces. Where was the understanding? The shared experiences? No wonder people call it the “Mommy Wars.”
We are all moms. We should be a tribe. We all know we are our own harshest critics. Why are so many of us so quick to bring down judgement on another mama that makes a decision differently than we made our own? Some might say “Well, I don’t sugar coat things—that’s just the way I am.” That’s fine. To each their own I suppose.
But as for me, I will do my best to show kindness to my fellow mama. To remind her that we’re all kind of winging it and we’re all just doing the best we can. There are no one-size-fits-all rules for parenting; we’re just making the decisions that make the most sense for our kids and our families. I will be a shout of positivity to drown out the mutterings of judgement. I will be there to remind you—we’ve all been there. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s all going to turn out okay. Parenting is rough. It’s messy. It gets a little crazy. I do my best to embrace it with positivity when I can, and I hope there are other moms who will do the same. Let’s be a tribe of positive, happy mamas, instead of harsh and judgmental, desperate to convince everyone else that they have it so easy.
The Happy Mama Tribe…I kinda like the sound of it. Have you ever felt judged in your parenting choices (or life choices in general) either online or in the real world? How do you deal with it? Leave me a little something in the comments, even if it’s just to say hi! Thanks for reading my little rant!