Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On sharing unsolicited opinions...

Disclaimer: I am feeling very emotional tonight. No clue as to why, I just am. I apologize if this post turns out to be a disorganized rant.

That being said, I really wish people would stop and think before they share their opinions, particularly when they disagree with the way others parent. There are cases where a child is in danger, where it is obvious the child's needs are not being met, be it emotionally or physically, or cases where the child is not being treated with love and respect. When you are witness to such a thing, by all means, please try to find a way to respectfully talk to the parent of the child. Offer empathy, understanding, and suggestions. Do your best to avoid using an accusatory or condescending tone. Actually, let me back up. Before you do all that, go do some research and make sure you are right. Sometimes we think we are correct and we are not. Sometimes we think we know the facts and it is only our opinion, which may or may not be correct.

Going back to the way people parent, as I have said many times, different things work for different parents and kids. Here is my story. I have very high expectations as far as what type of mother I want to be. I feel that raising my little girl is the most important and biggest responsibility I will ever have. She has her own personality, but I strongly believe that the way I treat and address her will impact her a great deal. I am aware of my strengths and my weaknesses. I feel like since my Ari was born, I am always learning something. Sometimes, I feel as though I have the hang of something only to realize later on that a different way of doing things feel better/more appropriate to me. Example: discipline. More on that on another post.

As my mother-in-law has said many times, babies make you eat your nevers! There are many things I do or have done that I never thought I would do.

I have done a fair bit of cosleeping.

I am still breastfeeding. On, say, day 10, I didn't know if I would make it to six weeks, never mind nursing for over three years.

My kitchen is full of fresh fruit and veggies and there are probably only two or three cans of food in there. I refuse to tell you what my diet looked like when I was a teenager attending college!

I keep thinking about how Ari being in school has changed her eating habits. I think about what to send for lunch, what would be yummy and healthy snacks that I can bring when I pick her up, etc. I think I am going to start baking more. You have no idea just how much I dislike cooking, but there you have it! Tons of fruits and veggies, few cans, and lots of homemade snacks and meals.

You also have no clue as to how much I love Burger King! But I am trying very hard to avoid going there often because I don't want my child to think that eating French fries and cheeseburgers is something we do all the time.

So, bottom line is I feel like I have good and bad days, but, overall, I am giving this mothering thing my best. On days like today, when I feel emotional and my choices are criticized, based on someone's opinion, not on any facts, I don't know if I want to kick someone or if I just want to cry.

People, you don't know why others make the choices they make. You don't know what they know or don't know, what they have learned via first-hand experience or research. You don't know what their and their kids' preferences are. Don't be so quick to point out how others should or should not do such and such.

Someone who I respect and love dearly was telling me today that she thinks that Ari should have been weaned long ago, that breastfeeding is about nourishment, that the minute Ari started eating solids there was no reason to nurse anymore. She said that breastfeeding Ari at this age is about something else, that "something else" being a negative thing. I happen to disagree with her wholeheartedly. Breastfeeding, for us, is not only about nourishment. Breastfeeding is about a bond, a special and unique bond between my daughter and I. Breastfeeding boosts the child's immune system. Breastfeeding has a positive impact not only on her health but on mine too.

It is my choice to decide if/when I wean. I respect those that will nurse longer than I will and those that weaned earlier on. It is my choice if I will wean or if I will wait for my child to wean herself. It is my choice to change my mind. Now that my child understands language, I feel it is appropriate to talk to her about weaning, about how little babies need a lot of milk, kids like her eat food and get a little milk, and how some day she will be ready to stop and my body will stop making milk. It is my responsibility to listen to my child, to take her needs and wants into consideration, and to also set boundaries and ensure that I am taking care of my own needs.

Person that I love and respect so much, you love my child to pieces, but you only see us once a month. You don't know all the details about our breastfeeding relationship and how we are feeling about it. You parented your boys a while back the best way you knew how. Now it is my turn. I assure you that that little one that you love so much is loved and is being raised the best way I know how. I believe that breastfeeding, for now, is right for us. We will be done when we are both ready. I love you, but, please, think before you speak. Sometimes I feel like I just can't do anything right when it comes to parenting. When I talked about preschool, it was too early. When I talked about adopting, I got a weird look. When I talk about breastfeeding, you think I am doing something wrong. There are times when I screw up. That is inevitable. Breastfeeding is not a screw-up. When you disagree or think I am making a mistake, please take a minute to remember that I am doing the best I know how, to remember that I think and research a lot before I make decisions, and remember that empathy works better than a criticizing tone.

Ok, I'm done! Talking to Geeky Entrepreneur and writing it all out made me feel better.

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