Going into week 30 of pregnancy I find myself experiencing excitement, impatience, anxiety, insecurity and wonder. There are so many things I look forward to about getting to be a mother, mostly just getting to love someone unconditionally, hopefully inspiring her to be anyone and anything she wants to be, and trying to make the best choices for her, but there also are things that are freaking me out!
I know that no matter how much planning or preparation I think I’ve gone through to ready myself for this ultimate task, I really have no idea what is in store for me. One iota of wisdom I’ve gleaned from family, friends, acquaintances, strangers and other people who’ve offered me their free advice is this — OUR LIVES ARE ABOUT TO COMPLETELY CHANGE — in a good way.
I guess my 18 years of being a mother to my kitty don’t really count.
There is SO MUCH free advice out there regarding maternity, motherhood, parenting, child rearing, and so fourth. Most of it is harmless and innocent, but some of it is invasive, judgmental and cruel. Maybe it’s because I’m more aware of it now that I fall into the “mom” demographic, but I’ve recently seen a lot of conversation, rants, and media regarding things such as “mom shaming.”
Let me begin by saying this about mom shaming…
- GET OVER IT! Are you close to the parent in question? Is the child *really* being harmed? It’s probably none of your business, and you should move on.
- FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS! Sadly, there are mothers and fathers struggling to feed their children, dying fleeing wars and being detained for years in rugged refugee camps. There are travesties happening all over the world while we’re worried about genius-this and crunchy that.
- TAKE A DEEP BREATH – Do you feel like you’ve been a victim of mom shaming? Take a deep breath, step back, assess the situation, say “fuck it” and keep on doing the best you can do.
Case in point: here are two hot online articles from the past week in #momshaming
- Why You Should care About Mom Shaming, Even If You Haven’t Experienced It – romper.com
- John Legend Shuts Down “Mom-Shaming” With One Perfect Tweet – bustle.com
See below for recent #momshaming related videos and tweets.
Mothers, fathers and partners, are feeling attacked, in public and online, by others who disagree with their choices. Whether it’s choosing not to have kids at all, or to be a single parent or parents of the same-sex, adopting, using in vitro fertilization, birthing vaginally or via cesarean section, delivering at a hospital or home-birthing, opting for labor pain-relief or going “all natural,” taking a date night together and leaving baby with a sitter, taking a crying baby with you to dinner, breast feeding in public, not breast feeding, using disposable diapers, letting children watch TV or use a personal tablet device, baptizing, circumcising, vaccines, no vaccines, pacifiers, too much coddling, not paying enough attention to… the list of reasons to be called out as a bad mother, or not raising your child “right” goes on and on. And this can be stressful and toxic.
There is no one way, right way or wrong way to birth and raise a child – given you are not intentionally harming or mistreating the baby (or yourself). Sometimes things don’t go as planned or hoped for, so we must keep our mothering/parenting tactics flexible. We’re told by doctors and midwives to make a “birth plan” before going into labor. From personal experience, I feel that new mothers and parents are expected to have the next 18 years of their child’s life planned out – from feeding to schooling. And with all of the societal chatter of “do this, not this,” along with contradicting scientific studies, family traditions, and trends, making one decision or another can be enough to cause some mothers and fathers great distress and anxiety.
During this pregnancy, I keep trying to remind myself to go with the flow and to do what feels right for me. Whether that’s going for a 10-mile hike, or staying in bed all day. I try not to compare my pregnancy to others’. I remind myself that there are no ideals. I have been a confident woman up to this point in my life, and I can’t let motherhood make me doubt myself. Although I appreciate thoughtful suggestions and sought-after advice (not the unsolicited stuff), I have to continue not to care what others think. I must trust my instincts and remember not to impart my personal bias onto other mothers. We’ve all got shitty diapers to contend with, isn’t that enough?
Please don’t touch my belly.
Raising a child is one of the biggest responsibilities I can imagine taking on, and some say it takes a village. I hope my village is positive, encouraging and loving.
I mentioned earlier that I look forward to being a mother for reasons that will influence my daughter… I also look forward to the personal growth and experiences that are waiting for me.