It’s a beautiful day outside. Breezy, but nice.
This morning I watched my son pretend to be a baby fox amidst chairs and sheets constructing a very fine fort. I laughed as my beautiful Bitzy played Flopsy and Mopsy with her sweet friend Ana. And I sighed as my baby Nonny only took a 30 minute morning nap when she really needs at least an hour.
I laughed with Lolly, Zach’s Mama, about how funny they are. The crazy things they pretend and say and do. How magical they are.
And now during this peaceful naptime hour, I wonder what divides us as mothers. Surely, every child in the world is magical in his or her own way. Surely everyone has a baby that at one point or another has refused to nap. I have yet to meet a “boring” child. Each one is filled with different gifts. That said, each of us mothers get to experience this incredible journey. While it’s very different for each of us, so much of it is exactly the same. And yet, we squabble about silly things. We fiercely judge one another. And often, we choose being “right” over being kind.
In fact, a few months ago I read a blog post entitled, “Why letting your baby cry it out is not God’s way.” Now, let me get one thing straight, I’m not an “advocate” of cry it out. I am, however, an advocate of survival. With Bitzy, I survived with little to no sleep every single night for over 9 months. But, I was basically a wreck much of the time. At the time I had a part-time job and one afternoon we had an “enrichment” were we sat in a circle and talked. I basically cried for an hour straight. I was honestly so exhausted I had almost no control of my emotions. This, my friends, is unhealthy.
When I took her in for her 9 month well check up, the doctor gave me a pep talk. He explained if the one and only place she would sleep was my arms, we had a very large problem. This, I already knew. It got so bad that in the middle of the night when I nursed and rocked her, the moment I stood up from the rocking chair she would scream until I sat back down to rock her more. She wanted to sleep in my arms at all times. Nighttime or naptime, she wanted me and me only. So, I’m assuming you see how this is a problem.
Finally, I followed the doctor’s advice as I clung to the video monitor as Zach laid in her floor while she wailed continously, I was crying right along with her. It was not quick and it was not easy, but finally she began sleeping in her crib and not waking up 5 times a night.
I tell you this story, as an example of survival. I was on the brink. Seriously. And thankfully, I’ve never suffered through serious post partum depression. I wonder how exhaustion plays into PPD’s hand. I can imagine how they can do serious damage together.
And I wonder if all the new Mamas like me that read that blog post and felt terrible about themselves. Or all the mamas who waved their holier than thou flags. Friends, these are the things that cause division.
Another divide I’ve heard so many times is food. What we feed our kids seems to cause so much division. I confess, that I’ve played this game too. I once saw a lady feeding her child a Coke that she poured into a bottle. I immediately wrote a Facebook post about the horror of this act and I had many well meaning commenters agreeing with me on her horribleness. And now, I regret that so much. I wonder all the loving mothers who had also poured their child and a Coke and read my post and felt bad about themselves. I sadly caused division.
And of course the obvious divides. Stay at home Mamas and Working Mamas. I have a friend who will make a working mama feel extreme guilt over not being at home with her babies. Somehow after a 5 minute chat she can make even the most confident working mom feel awful. This again, is division.
And breast milk over formula. Ah, it’s such an old fight. I’m obviously an breastfeeding advocate. I’ll probably still be breastfeeding for many more years to come, but that doesn’t mean if it didn’t work out for another Mommy that they are wrong or bad or less. Again, it’s division.
Division can come with words, Facebook posts, mean stares, whispers and even with not very nice thoughts.
I fight it almost every single day. I try so hard not to judge other Mamas, even when it feels natural to do so. Because sometimes the mean way, seems to be the easy way. Fighting against our natures and forcing ourselves to be kind takes much more effort.
Does this mean that we can’t have opinions? Of course not. But I have learned that often we need to keep our opinions to ourselves unless we’re asked for advice. This is a good rule to live by.
Because friends, usually…almost always, people are doing their best. And sadly, we are all fighting our very own battles one day at time. Can I encourage you to fight against division? We’re in this together. Rather than working against each other, let’s fight for each other.