On message boards across the web you can find, far too easily, cringe-inducing posts by moms skewering each other’s parenting styles and choices–battles over breastfeeding versus formula-feeding and catfights about co-sleeping and cribs, and that’s just the tip of the judgemental iceberg. This sad reality is partly why, even though it was necessary to ensure Stella’s wellbeing, the switch to hypoallergenic formula was so difficult.
I’ve thought a lot about all the guilt and shaming and I think that what it really boils down to is that today, there is no one clear way to raise a child. Somehow, with a constant flood of opinions, experts, and information, there are more questions than answers. Nothing is clear cut. We’re all so worried about making the “right choices” for our children that we cling tightly to our way of doing things, and they come to define us. It’s as if we are trying to convince ourselves, not just others, of their correctness. Defensiveness and insecurity can be the only explanation.
However. What I’ve learned through my experiences with this blog is that none of that matters. Not one bit. I’ve heard from mothers across the country and around the world–moms in Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland and Texas whose babies refuse to eat. We all do the same desperate things, ask the same questions, and think the same thoughts. Our feelings, stories and longings are not just similar, but identical. The fact that some of our babies enjoy breastmilk and some formula, and that some sleep nestled under our arms while others are tucked into lovingly adorned cribs, makes no difference whatsoever. These women span a diverse range of nationalities, but you’d never know it.
As I think about Hatice, Rocio, Erin and all of other moms who’ve contacted me, I am overcome with emotion. Not just because I’ve been where they are and know how gut-wrenching their struggles are. Not just because I know how terrifying it is to insert an NG tube, how the tape turns their scrumptious little cheek into a red, raw mess that seems to symbolize disfunction, and how an aversion comes to suffocate every other aspect of life. No. Really, my heart aches and expands when I think about them because they love their babies so very, very much–literally to the point of madness, sometimes. They would do anything at all, gladly handing over their own wellbeing and comfort, to ensure that their babies are happy and healthy. It’s that simple.
The truth about moms is that we are all incredibly alike, when it comes to what actually matters.