Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Judge Not

Since becoming a mom almost three years ago, I've always felt the whole mommy wars was blown out of proportion. At least, whenever people would tell me they felt judged for formula feeding, I always had a hard time believing it. Truly, I've received so many rude comments and statements from co-workers and family members about breastfeeding (especially about nursing past a year) that I felt like I got more rudeness for NOT bottle feeding, plus you always hear about people being so rude to moms who nurse in public (although I've thankfully never felt this). At the very least, I knew that I'd never said anything to anyone about how they feed their kid, because hey, it's just important that babies are being fed, right? Granted, I'm guilty of thinking my way is the best simply because it works so well for me, but who isn't guilty of that at times? Sometimes I can be a total Judge-y McJudgerson, but I like to remember the adage that if you can't say something nice to someone, then maybe don't say anything at all.

Saturday night, Shane and I went out to dinner with Tommy, while Luke stayed home with Grandma. I ordered a caramel appletini because I'd just fed Tommy and knew that I was going to eat SO MUCH food that I wouldn't feel the alcohol, and Tommy certainly wouldn't. After I ordered, the waitress looked at me, looked at Tommy, and icily said, "So, you're obviously not breastfeeding, then" in the same tone of voice that one would say, "So, you're obviously the worst mother ever, then." Shane and I looked at each other and I had to collect my wits for a second before I said, "No, I am. My midwife said one drink is fine, thanks." And then it was like someone flipped a switch, and she happily chatted to me about how she heard that red wine and dark beers are good for nursing and how her sister is a home birth midwife and so on.

But really, what if I wasn't breastfeeding because I was on a medication that could be passed to the baby? Or what if I'd tried really hard and it didn't work out? Or what if I just didn't want to do it? How would she have made me feel, then? She made me feel judged, and I WAS breastfeeding. In a society where we're given so many mixed messages, is it so hard for women to just support each other? We're told that we need to be happy and glowing during pregnancy and that the second the baby is born, we must jump right back into our old jeans and have a perfect body. And if we don't, well, that's what plastic surgery is for. We're told that strong, independent women work outside of the home so if you choose to stay home, you're letting women everywhere down, yet we're also made to feel that if we work outside of the home, we're letting someone else raise our children and we're failing as a mom.
There are so many mixed messages that come at women, that come at moms, that it's not easy. The least we can do for each other is smile at another mom, tell her her baby is beautiful, and that she's doing a great job. Don't worry about if she's going back to work or if she's giving her baby breast or bottle, just let her know that she's doing the best job possible, because you know what? She probably is, but she probably doesn't think it, and even if she doesn't believe you... you'll probably make her day.

And in the meantime? Just let me drink my martini in peace!

37 comments:

Toni said...

I felt these sort of "mommy pressures" 10 years ago when MY son was a baby. It was like, in some strange way, mothers were always trying to out-do each other. I never understood it. Actually, it drove me away from playgroups, etc.

Good for you for standing your ground. Your boys are beautiful! :)

InTheFastLane said...

I HEAR you! And plus, I have been on both sides. I think breastfeeding is good, but not all women can do it. I breastfed my 1st for almost a year. But, my 2nd got cut off at 4 months because he was WAY too active. And my 3rd? Well, guess what, he was unexpected and suddenly I was a working mom. A working mom that had to go back to work a mere 6 weeks after he was born. And my little guy only breastfed for 6 weeks. AND they are ALL super smart healthy, happy kids :)

So, I don't judge. But, I do get irritated when I feel that some moms are doing things because they think it "looks" good. I do get a little bothered when moms seem to be pushing there kids and not letting them just be kids. They don't need to read when they are 2 years old, or even 3 or even 4. All games don't have to encourage learning. Sometimes it is good to just let kids be kids and love them for who they are right now.

Off my soapbox now. See what happens when I am not at work because of a sick kid?

~michelle pendergrass said...

I'm echoing Toni here, 10 years ago, it was much the same. Though breastfeeding was really not popular then and extended breastfeeding even less. I got a ton of criticism for nursing Zane to age 3. You'd have thought I was doing serious damage to my child.

Cameron said...

Man, I've heard about all this mommy war stuff. I agree, can't we just all support one another? I think it's not just about mommy stuff, though... since I started working my dream making jewelry from home, a lot of people are like, "What do you DO all day" while others are snide, like, "Must be nice to be able to stay at home" (the "and do nothing" is implied)... Luckily some people think it's awesome that I get to do what I love, namely my husband, so that's all that matters! :)

Whew, tangent, sorry. :) Hang in there, you're an awesome mom! :)

Jo said...

before I said, "No, I am. My midwife said one drink is fine, thanks."

Man, you're a better person than I. I think my response would've involved an F-bomb.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I've gotten a lot of criticism for nursing Jonathan past a year -- mainly from my family (not my mother whose been so sweet about it). A friend of mine, however, feels guilty about not nursing her child and seems to mention it every time we talk...poor thing. It's like she thinks I'm judging her. Her daughter was sick after she was born and in the hospital and she had several other challenges.

I have to be honest. I think I felt more of an outsider for breastfeeding, except in my online community . . . in the "real" world. . . I was an outsider.

Lyndsay said...

Amen sister. Pass the martinis.

The Fritz Facts said...

How very true.

I took 6 months off when Boo was born, it wasn't in purpose, but it was well worth it. When I did rejoin the work-world I was given such grief by some people for going back. But, when I stayed home I was given grief for that as well. It is a double edged sword, and no one is ever the right.

Now, we get grief for letting Boo play outside alone (in our fenced back yard) or for not fighting to get custody of my step son. But, if we didn't/did those things we would be horrible people too.

I learned that no matter what I do, someone will ALWAYS have an issue with it. But, as long as my family is happy with the choice it is alright. It is hard, but something I had to figure out.

Summer said...

Goodness...I'm surprised sometimes at the things that come out of people's mouths. You are right...we, as women, should consistently support one another...not judge...

Hope your martini was yummy! It sounds good!!! :)

designHER Momma said...

seriously people need to keep their mouths shut. (especially ones who work for tips).

I bet the drink was awesome...I could use one right now.

Sarah @ Ordinary Days said...

You know I'd never really thought much about questions like this until I realized that they're asking about a private bodily function.
Would it be ok for a waitress to say, "Oh you must be really regualr!" if you order a cheesy dish or "Need a little help getting things moving?" if you order something high in fiber.
And the same goes for when people ask when someone is going to have kids or if they're trying. When, and for what reason, people have sex is their business. I wish more people would think about how very personal questions like this can be.
Excellent post!

*Lissa* said...

The simplest compliment can make all the difference in a person's day!

Great post, Erin!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh how rude!

Seriously.

Steph

Jenni Jiggety said...

People are CrAzY...

I never felt judged for formula feeding...but only because I don't give a crap what anyone else thinks! LOL!

Sara Joy said...

Really well said, Erin. And seriously....RUDE!

Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? said...

I hear you loud and clear, I don't understand why as women we constantly cut each other down, we should be supporting each other.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Wait. Just wait. What is this you speak of? A caramel WHA? Appletini? Geez, have I been out of it, or something? Whatever on earth a Caramel Appletini is, I want one lickety split, like RIGHT NOW right now.

Um, what we were talking about? Oh yeah, the rude waitress. Whatevs. In this day and age, everyone has their nose so far up everyone elses ass they forget to notice they suck worse than the person they are snubbing. Imagine a keyboard in front of you with people like that, and with a click, GONE - "DE-LETE"

Enjoy that caramel awesomeness. I must enable my Google-fu and discover what on Earth it is... and send hubby to the store so that I may attempt to enjoy one myself. Y'know, since one is safe and all. Heh.

The Austin Family said...

This is a post that really hits close to my heart. When I was pregnant I had my heart set of breast feeding my baby and I was excited about it. I tried and tried and tried, I tried for eight weeks. My milk never came in and baby was losing weight. I did everything that was recommended, took every supplement and prescription medication. It was awful but I had to give in for the health of my baby. People were awful to me and I spent many hours crying over my failure. But I eventually decided to be happy that I have a beautiful healthy baby that my husband and I BOTH get to experience feeding.

Mrs Soup said...

It is so sad how entitled people feel. They don't know the whole situation and yet they feel like they can judge and make statements about what they perceive. Overall? Very sad.

Sarah said...

I am a lurker and this is my first comment. Well said!! I am a full time working mother who nursed my 10 month old as long as I was able to. We (as mothers) should all support each other and the choices we make. Thank you for voicing this!! I enjoy your blog. And next time, enjoy a martini, I know I did!!

Kaycee said...

I SO agree with you. It's so frustrating to watch women judge and cut down other women, and even more so when it's aimed at you.

I have a friend who is 7 months pregnant right now and I get the most lovely, thankful emails from her about supporting her decisions - which tells you right there how often she is judged by others. I truly feel it's up to each Mom, and each one of us makes THE BEST decisions we can for OUR family. She is getting so much criticism about the choices she is making to try to do the best for her health and for her son (for example - cloth diapers, breastfeeding, a doula, etc) and no one has a nice thing to say about any of it. It does make it easier that I agree with most of her choices (and there are some I wish I could have done) but I don't agree with them all - but I don't have to tell her that she's wrong about anything, she isn't. She is making the best choices she knows and I support HER right to take care of her family as she sees best.

It frustrates me to no end how much Moms especially have to justify what we do to family, friends and strangers. I wish all people would realize all of us are just doing the best we know, and if we learn something better we'll do that instead.

My name is Sasha said...

Thank you for this. I *did* have to stop breastfeeding when my son was a month old because of a medication I had to go back on in order to even be able to take care of him.

And that was after fighting tooth and nail to undo the nipple confusion the hospital had graced us with and get him on the breast instead of having to pump all the damned time. You cannot imagine what a blow that was to be all "Oh, ha! Just kidding, here have the bottle back."

And yes. I got judged. I get dirty looks *still* when we're out in public and he gets a bottle. I taught him to drink water out of a glass in restaurants as soon as he showed an interest (once he was on solids) so he could have a drink while he ate and we wouldn't get nasty looks from all corners.

Most days, I don't care. He's tall and strong and wicked smart *despite* my "failing" to breastfeed him still, he's 10 months and wants to walk so bad he can taste it and I know he'd be here at this milestone *now* whether he'd had the boobies or not, and if he's faking us out and doesn't walk until he's two? Whatever. They do what they do when they do it.

But some days? Some days I just want to scream at the disapproving noses in the air that this was NOT my choice, and with the next one I'll be better, I have more options, I know more, stop judging me!

And then later I remember I don't actually care about anything other than loving my kid, so I curl up on the bed with him and a bottle for a nap and he holds my hand while he falls asleep and everything is right in the world.

pinkflipflops said...

A FREAKING MEN.

pendy said...

You are SO right. Even when we know our way is best :) we need to support all moms, especially new mothers and mothers of babies, because they are so exhausted the tiniest maybe criticism is enough to send the poor girl over the edge.

Also, that waitress was WAY out of line for making such a personal statement.

Emilie said...

I'm so confused as to how:
A. you ordering a drink necessarily means you're not breastfeeding
B. you breastfeeding or not is any of the waitress's business
C. a waitress has a right to judge or comment on anything a customer is doing that doesn't have to do with the menu

What would she have done if you'd said "No. I'm not breastfeeding." Refuse to serve you? Be a snot to you the rest of the meal?

I think I'd have said, "You're quite observant. I'm not breastfeeding right now - see the kid sitting there as my breasts are still inside my clothes? However, I'll be nursing him later, even though that's none of your business." Or something like that! Or I'd have wanted to anyway!!!

mommy boo of two said...

Being a mom is hard enough without other moms (and those who aren't moms) judging and telling you what you should do differently because 'you're not doing it right'. Or atleast how they did it. There is no 'right' way of doing things. It's what works for you and your family. And if that way happens to be different than another mom's way then who cares. At the end of the day if everyone is fed, clean (and even then I don't give my kids baths everyday), happy, then I think you are doing an outstanding job as a mom. And let's face it, when you have multiple kids you need a drink every now and then to stay sane!

Bacardi Mama said...

Oh, I hear ya! Amen sister, enjoy that martini!! You are doing a fantastic job of being a mommy.

The Flip Flop Mamma! said...

OMWord! I can not believe the nerve of some people! You gave a very good answer and it led to this great post, so something good did come out of her rudeness :)

I don't know why moms have to compete, ugh it's frustrating!

Elaine A. said...

I would be a liar if I didn't admit to judging others, but usually just in my head. And not necessarily about these specific things, but other parenting "issues."

I have been both a bottle feeder and breast feeder and I've been both a working mom and a stay at home mom so I feel like I've had each perspective and I try NOT to judge at all on those two things.

And now I really want a martini and am going to check what we have in the cabinet... ;-)

imadramamama said...

When I made the choice with Jake to NOT breastfeed, I had people looking at me like I'd grown a second head. But that was the choice that worked best for us so poo on them.

Why can't we see that we are all on the same side??

april said...

Terrific post!

When my nephew was born, he was a month early and had quit growing a week before they delivered him. He had NO CLUE how to suck. So, they basically had to force feed him until he learned. Then once he latched onto the bottle, he wouldn't breast feed. His mama felt terrible, so when people would give her dirty looks for bottle feeding, she would feel even worse, and I would just want to punch them.

Mom of Three said...

Amen sister.

Stillmary said...

What a great post! You are SO RIGHT!! We must support each other and know that we're all doing the best we can with what we have. This judging business is the bane of female existance and reflects badly on all womankind. Doesn't the bible say, "Judge not lest you be judged"?

And personally, I think you're probably one of the best moms EVER. (I'm not judging, I'm just sayin') I love it that you were relaxed enough to have a caramel appletini.

Future Mama said...

what a biotch!! I think the mommy wars are STUPID too! I'm not even a mom and I've been dragged into it... I think there's fertility wars too! so sad!

Great post! and thanks for following me!! :)

To Think is to Create said...

Preach it sista! Love is on short supply among moms, sadly.

Love this.

Courtney said...

great post! thank you!

I suffered PPD with my first son after BFing didnt work and i forced myself to pump for 6 weeks only to have my milk supply dwindle and have to give it up when i realized i was crying evertime i even looked at my baby. I resented him because i was killing myself trying to do what was "BEST" for him when in reality what was best for him was to have a healthy happy mama.

People judge without knowing. BF is a beautifuly thing if it works out and if it doesnt then formula is there to help not harm. We all do what we feel is best for our kids. I dont think one woman in the history of motherhood ever said "i think i will bottle feed cause i just dont like this kid"!

Kaycee said...

I still can't believe that people behave like this. Wish we could all not judge each other so much, but I have been guilty of thinking "my" way is the best way too so I guess I should make sure to be careful. And I DO think my way is best - for MY family. But everyone else has a story I have not heard completely - so their choices are best for them and I should not judge.