i have had several conversations with various mama friends about the nature of mothering and i feel it’s time to speak up!!!
mothering is not a competition. it’s not about who is better a mother and whose kids are better. instead, it is a tremendously difficult life long commitment. it is a journey that is intimate and deeply personal. it involves all of our senses; all of our heart, mind, body and soul; it uses our physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual selves. it is a job that is difficult and taxing with little relief and acknowledgement. it is women’s work.
|my mom and i in china.|
we look at our own kids and wonder if the choices we have made are right, beneficial or practical. we worry about how badly we have messed up our kids and if there is hope in all the madness sometimes. often we cry alone in our weakest moments and are scared to share our struggles with others. there is great fear in all mothers, new or experienced, to be seen as BAD. to be a bad mother is the worst label of them all. but, this is where i think things get tricky, because there is no clear list of what makes a bad mother (or a good mother for that matter). we are judged harshly by others even though we play on uneven playing fields using different equipment and different rules.
but, we are our worst critics.
when we look at ourselves as mothers, we do not or cannot forgive ourselves for things we have done, as the standard is set so unrealistically high. but, who are we comparing ourselves to? first we compare ourselves to all the other mamas in the world. all of them. not just the ones we know personally, but we also compare ourselves to any person who mothers, whether they be characters in books, movies, or anonymous cyberspace blogger mamas who so conveniently edit and censor their entries leaving out the sad, negative and often self deprecating descriptions of their lives. seems like we will always lose to these comparisons.
i have been a mother for three years now. three wonderful and exhausting years; years that have been very defining for me as i have discovered who i really am. i have come to realize, that yet again, i do not quite fit the mold of “mother” that our society has created. dear hubby and i are attachment parents. for this we,are easy target of snide comments, strident stares and cruel judgements because…
|myself with bear three months.|
i am a mother who wears and carries her children.
i am a mother who co-sleeps with her children.
i am a mother who breastfeeds on demand.
i am a mother who cloth diapers her babies most of the time.
i am a mother who lives without a tv.
i am a mother who cooks dinner from scratch most nights.
but, so what? these are my personal choices and do not make me any better or worse of a mother and they certainly do not deserve to be evaluated by people outside of my family.
|second time holding lion age four days.|
although i feel and believe these choices suit my family best, i feel tremendous judgement and pressure to justify these choices. i am a firm believer in respecting each family’s unique way of living. we have never owned a crib, so this becomes a topic of heated discussion and concern for people. they think dear hubby and i am being irresponsible for co-sleeping with our children. but i have to ask, again, whose business is it where my kids sleep?
mothering is a unique experience for all of us. maybe using cribs in one family works really well, but not in another. maybe cloth diapering only makes sense when done every other day for some families. maybe making baby food from scratch is important to one family, but not another. and when these families have made these decisions, i will bet there has been a lot of guilt for not cloth diapering 100%, or buying jarred baby food or whatever.
instead of holding our mothering styles and values to unrealistic standards, let’s instead stand proud for doing the best we can with what we know and what we’ve got.