In recent weeks and months I've heard and seen a lot of parents passing comments and judgement on other parents. Stuff like this really really upsets me, it plays on my mind a lot, I just wish people would realise ITS NOT OKAY!
When I had my first daughter, nobody I knew had children. It was great. I just got along with everything how I wanted to do it, blissfully ignorant to the parent politics I would later be faced with. It wasn't until I had given birth, and as I started seeing family, health visitors, visiting baby groups and expanding my acquaintance circle that I started to realise what actually was going on. People congratulated me on my natural birth and breastfeeding, and I started to wonder, do people think having painkillers (during the most painful thing you will EVER experience in your life) is a bad thing? Did people really frown upon someone for feeding a baby milk from a bottle? Turns out they do and it totally baffled me!
Giving birth is everyone's own personal experience. Surely we should be congratulating people for bringing their baby into this world, whether it was by Caesarian, with every painkiller there is going, or with no painkillers at all. It's a woman's prerogative to accept the birth she had. And to be honest, none of it should matter once your precious babe is in your arms. Especially not to anyone that wasn't there.
You may think, I had it easy being the one that was breastfeeding-nope! I had my fair share of stares and passive aggressive comments. Turns out instead of parenting alongside each other and setting an example for our children, people genuinely think we're competing. It doesn't just end there either- I found if, good forbid, you give your baby JAR food, people will gasp, or smugly say how they cook everything Annabel Karmel style, organically steamed and fed to their babies fresh. My eldest wouldn't eat my cooking (yes my cooking really is that bad) and jars were the only food she would eat, apart from yoghurts. Does that make me a bad parent for choosing to feed my child something other than yoghurts? No. I think it's quite the opposite-I was concerned that my baby wasn't eating, so I took the initiative to do what I thought was best for her given the circumstances. But people's reactions sure made me feel I wasn't good enough.
I've breastfed, I've bottle fed, I've co slept and I've put my baby in a crib. I've jar fed, I've puréed food and I've done baby led weaning. None of my choices were wrong, as me and my babies were happy.
What people fail to understand is that each and every one of us is different. That is the beauty of life. If everyone was brought up exactly the same, we would all act and be exactly the same, and the human race would probably become extinct because no one would find love in anyone that was programmed the same as everyone else.
What I mean, is that in the grand scheme of things, in a child's whole life, why does it matter if they sleep in a cot or your bed (safely of course), does it matter if you "build a rod for your own back" by letting them sleep in your arms. Does it matter if you had them sleeping happily in their own room from being a few months old? Or that they're still in your room as a toddler? I really don't think it does. I've heard people gasp at a 1 year old eating sweets, and people roll their eyes at the mother that doesn't allow her 3 year old sweets. People push babies in prams, people carry babies in slings, it's ok for people to have just one child, and it's ok for people to have 8 children, women have babies with different dads, babies born out of wedlock, babies born all to the same father, or childhood sweethearts married before babies. None of it matters, and bashing others choices is not ok.
It's at the point now, where guilt or embarrassment eats away at mothers. I was once one of those mothers, whilst finding my feet I often wondered if I was being a terrible mother by my choices. The fact that I cared about what type of mother I was and was always thinking of my child, reassured me I was doing just fine. When I speak about breastfeeding for instance, mums, bless them, feel they need to justify why breastfeeding didn't work out for them, or make a point of mentioning they did try it but it didn't work out. While the mums that bottle fed are embarrassed to highlight their choices, by fear of being judged. These people are mistaking me as one of the mummy warriors. I'm not. Parenting is such a personal choice and experience, that as long as the baby is happy and you are happy with your choices, there should be no reason to feel guilt, no matter what you have chosen.
Being a parent is a reason to celebrate, and moulding your little miracle is your responsibility. There is no wrong or right way to do it, as long as it's right for everyone involved. People with opinions on the outside aren't involved, and I'm sure we would all be much more relaxed and happy with our choices of others could paint on a smile and stop judging other parents, after all, you never know the full ins and outs of anyone's situation. So next time you see a mum or a dad doing their best, give them that smile-you know the one I mean. The one that says "you're doing just fine."
This is called part 1 because I feel strongly about it, I will most definitely be writing about this in the future!
Have you ever found yourself at parenting prejudice, or every unknowingly passed judgement without realising what effect it could have? Would love to hear your thoughts!