Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mommy vs. Mommy

I've shared before that motherhood is definitely more difficult than I anticipated. While I knew that I would be fighting battles with my daughter at some point, I had no idea that they would start from the beginning. Hours of colicky crying, trying to get her to sleep at night, breastfeeding for hours on end, endless colds during the winter, thrush three times-- there have been many struggles already. These struggles had led me to reading many parenting theories and advice, mostly online. I've read countless articles, blog posts, and forums about the latest research, ideas, and opinions on anything from sleep to eating to schedules. This is what I've learned about parenting so far:

The biggest battle mommies face is each other.

Now, I'm sure to some degree that this battle is a little more bold and colorful online because much like cyberbullying, these ladies can hide behind the anonymity that the internet provides. I guess this makes them mommy cyberbullies. However, even in person, moms are not bashful about letting you know how you should be parenting your child, as if there is some kind of manual that you've missed out on along the way.

It's taken me many months to learn that Amelia is not like any other child because no two children are the same. That sounds pretty basic and maybe silly, but when so many people are handing out advice, you start to wonder if you are doing something wrong. Together we are figuring out what works best. Even though I thought she would be a crib sleeping baby on a rigid schedule, we pretty much fly by the seat of our pants and co-sleep part time. It works for us. I would not point my finger at someone else and say "You should NEVER let your baby cry it out! I do such-and-such with Amelia and look how perfect she is!" She's not perfect and neither am I.

Apparently, perfect parents do exist though, and they are sharing their advice all over the internet world. As evidenced in this mommy's post about her struggles with sleep training.

For those of you who don't have time to read the article, basically she is trying cry it out (CIO) with her baby. If you really want to experience some strong parenting opinions, search for CIO or co-sleeping on the internet. Or, read the comments in the above article. I particularly am fascinated with these:

"You are horrible. I am sad for your children. Lazy parents are the worst."

"...Even so I just wanted to let you that even on social networks and everywhere you are being portrayed as an evil mother that lets her child cry for hours on end. I’d be concerned about someone possibly calling child protective services…"

"I have been a big fan of yours for a long time. Not anymore :~( Leaving babies to cry it out, all alone, at such a young age is unnatural and awful. I don’t want to be a flamer but it breaks my heart. I’ve done a considerable amount of research into this as I am currently writing a book about peaceful sleep. The thought of all those babies out there crying themselves to sleep because some self proclaimed guru presumes to tell mothers to act in a way that goes violently against their instincts makes me so angry. Sleep training is bad."

"I do feel the need to tell all of you attachment parents that you folks are crazy! You are breeding kids with no ability to be independent and this is a detrement to their social health! By the way, there comes a time when sleeping with your kids is no longer appropriate, and maybe someone should call social services on you."

I assume these moms are rich, as they have determined the best way to parent and must be writing books and making millions.

Also, please note how one mom says children's services should be contacted for using CIO (which is completely different from leaving your child in the crib night and day-- just thought I should point that out before someone suggests that I'm saying neglect is OK) and another says that children's services should be called for sleeping with your kids. Calling the mom 'lazy' really got me too-- there is nothing more excruciating for me than to hear Amelia scream and cry, and it is obvious to me that the author of this post feels the same.

I left a couple of comments for this mommy myself, the first being supportive and the second being sarcastic (what else would you expect from me?) towards the mommies that suggested protective services be contacted dependent on which sleep theory you follow. It was difficult for me not to defend my choice to co-sleep, but much like engaging in a battle with your children, a battle with other mommies is a waste of energy.

My point to my long rant is this: Mommyhood is hard. We all have different tactics as we raise our children. Hug the moms you know, provide encouragement and support, and remember that we are all doing the best we can to bring up healthy, happy kids-- even if it's not the way you would do it.


Jamie said...

Amen!!! You would think that the bond we all share (motherhood) would unite all of us. Instead it breaks us apart by constant judging. It is so sad :( I have parented the same way for both my kids and some things are the same and some things are SOOOO different! It really does depend on the child. I just wish moms were more supportive of each other.

B said...

Well written. I don't get why some moms get so upset/judgmental when they learn another mom is choosing a parenting style that is different from their parenting style. Insecurity maybe? Who knows. I didn't read all the comments, but many were completely dramatic and just plain mean! My favorite parenting quote is something about no one is an expert and everyone is a critic. So true. Moms need to unite and support, not divide and tear each other down!

Brittany said...

I can't believe some of the things that people said. I'm not sure why moms feel the need to compete with each other over who is doing it better. You do co-sleeping with Amelia and that works well for you. My poor Evelyn would get squished if we did that lol. She likes her bed and her own space. Everyone has what works for them, as long as the child is happy and is not being harmed then everything is good. We had about a month or so where Evelyn decided she no longer wanted to sleep in her bed and we had to let her cry it out. Some nights it would last for 45 minutes but after about 3 weeks she was back to going right to sleep. We do what we think is best and like you said there are no 2 children that are the same. I'm curious to see what this second baby is like when it arrives. Hopefully as laid back as Evelyn but I am not holding my breath lol.

Evonne said...

Amanda, This is great. I would like to link to it in my next post on Momfo - hope that's ok. Evonne

Amanda said...

Evonne, that would be great! You may link to my blog any time... as long as it's all wonderful praise about me, LOL ;)