I think I finally feel like I'm not a "new mom" anymore, like I've got this thing called parenthood mastered and I'm in the advanced level instead of the beginner one. Of course, I am well aware that whenever that happens, God or Jacob or fate or whoever is in charge of this cruise ship will roll a stumbling block my way, put me in check, and say "not so fast there girlie". Like, this morning (and the last few weeks if I'm being honest) I can tell that the breastfeeding is an instant soother. It is such a big part of our wake-up and bedtime routines that I am really unprepared for the moment in the next 6 or so months when we all realize that is no longer an option and I have to figure out a different plan for those occasional 2AM nightmares. But we're not there yet, so...
Here is some advice for my new mom friends, or those trying to start down that journey.
Basically, it boils down to: people suck, and YOU are the mommy.
That's right, no matter how you look at it, and how hard other people try to stay out yo biz-nass, there will always be SOMEONE telling you what you should or shouldn't be doing, or at the very least giving you the side-eye when you give your 10 month old a breadstick at Pizza Hut. The most important thing to remember is this: people have advice, opinions, and experience, and it's ok to lean on that sometimes when you feel lost and overwhelmed. But when you got it, you got it. Mama instinct is a pretty powerful thing, and sometimes I just KNOW that what I'm doing is what works for me and my baby at that time, and I'm doing more good than harm.
Every now and then when I'm out in public, I think people are looking at us strangely because we're the parents who forget to bring bibs, baby spoons, and sippy cups all the time. We are the parents who are feeding our child from our own forks, giving him a piece of bread from the breadbasket or some crackers to keep him occupied while we eat, and letting him drink his water from a regular cup and straw (okay, we do hold it for him, the other would be disastrous). I personally think it's easier this way, and sometimes realize I'm just as bad for rolling my eyes at the two year old whose parents come packed with an army of his own special food from home, a special sippy cup full of chocolate milk b/c he doesn't drink water, and plenty of activities to keep him from getting unhappy at dinner. Then I realize I'm being just as judgy as they may or may not be towards me, and I stop. Because if that's what works for their outing, so be it.
Family is the same way. I am lucky to be blessed with a wonderful family relatively free of Judgy McJudgersons, but now and then there still moments where I can tell someone thinks I'm coddling my son too much. For every one of those instances, there's probably someone else at the family gathering who thinks I'm a cold, cruel mama for ignoring Jacob when he crawls over and whines for me to pick him up for no other reason than he just wants to throw a fit. I do it, too, though...the way I shoot my husband a look when I overhear another mama being overprotective. This has got to stop, but it's just human nature. We all feel that our way is the right way, and forget sometimes that it's just the right way for us, but maybe not for everyone.
Breastfeeding is a big one where women do this. I'll admit it: I have judged formula feeders in the past. I have a hard time understanding why a woman wouldn't even try to breastfeed her baby given all of the info out there that says it's obviously better for the child. But then again, I also understand that if a woman tries and hates it, then obviously that's not going to create a rewarding bond anymore than holding a bottle will. And I've had both sides of judging for my breastfeeding decisions as well: my sister practically sneered at me when I told her my first goal was to breastfeed while home with the baby on maternity leave, but I really hoped to make it to six months. "Why would you only go six months when you know a year is better?" ("well, I don't know, maybe because neither of us has a kid yet and we don't really KNOW what's better") And now at 10 1/2 months I get strange looks and comments for still pumping at work and still breastfeeding in public.
So, my point is, new moms and moms to be, trust your instincts. When the time comes, you will know what feels right. And everyone else can shove it. There will always be detracters, but if you stay strong, do your research, rely on your "experienced" friends, and when in doubt use your gut, it will be much easier to smile and say, "thank you for the suggestion. If this stops working for me, I just may try that," then you will have this motherhood thing in the bag.
Like I do. Wink, wink...