I was thinking about the best way to talk about Mother’s Day. How to celebrate Mother’s Day. To encourage us all to be the best moms we can be on any individual day.
And all I could keep thinking was how grateful I am that I have these mommies all around me, walking the path and living the life I’m living.
But how I got to be able to enjoy the other mommies around me, that says more about my journey, really. Because I was well on my way to being ‘THAT mom’.
I know you know her. If you’ve been to a pediatrician’s office, a mommy group, a library story time, a babysitter or school pick up line – you’ve seen her. So I know I don’t have to explain her too much, but I will let you in on what my version of her looked like.
I worked full time. While breastfeeding. And making my own baby food. I did cloth diapers. And co-slept with a co-sleeper bassinet. My baby slept through the night from about 5 or 6 weeks on. She took two 2 or 3 hour naps every day. She went to bed by being swaddled and laid down. No rocking or singing or bouncing required. She was happy all the time. Developmental milestones like a champ. Ate anything we gave her to try. Grew like a weed. Played happily on the floor or the play pen. And the list could go on and on. Her biggest hiccup was car rides. She hated them and often screamed throughout them except when we drove through the night to my brother’s wedding where she decided to pull an all-nighter. Yes, folks, I had this baby thing figured out.
And because what I did worked, I started believing that if more moms could be like me, well then they wouldn’t have so many issues. With sleeplessness, crying, colic, diaper rash, motor skills, you name it. I had the answers.
And this grew into some pretty serious judgment of people. First silently but then as topics of discussion. But I never said anything to their faces. No I would just point out in conversations with my husband (mostly) that if so-and-so did this (like me) then they wouldn’t have these issues.
This didn’t go away when I got pregnant with baby #2. While this pregnancy rocked me in ways I can’t even express to you in this post, I was certain that if I did everything in the same way once he was born, we’d be issue free.
But pretty much from the word “go”….er “push” at the hospital, it should have been more obvious to me that I was in a for a surprise.
And surprised I was, and sometimes continue to be.
I didn’t sleep for 4 weeks after this baby was born. Not till my husband finally convinced me to bring the baby to bed – something I swore I’d next do but he was sure was the only way I’d get sleep (and he was right). He cried all day. And needed held. All the time. And would wake up SCREAMING from naps but would still be so tired requiring me to rock him to sleep a minimum of 6 times a day. He cried the whole week we introduced solids. And didn’t poop. And in general was always kind of this grumpy kid. He started saying “mama” early which made my heart melt but it was painful in that he was so distressed so much of the time.
Finally around 5 months we figured out he had food sensitivities. He and I both stopped eating that food, and voila…I’m not kidding. Naps. Sleeping at night. Demeanor. It all changed. It was amazing.
But he never became his sister. Apparently, he doesn’t need as much sleep. And apparently, he’s just kind of a grumpy dude sometimes. And apparently he does just like being held.
For everything that I thought I knew about babies and for what I believed to be true about how I mothered influencing their personality, I was maybe, generously, on a good day, about half right.
Now obviously, I believe that the choices we are making for our family are the best choices for OUR family. I also believe that there are good<better<best options when it comes to baby care and baby products and baby feeding and on and on and on.
But I don’t get to make anyone else’s choices for them.
And now I can see that what is best for me may not be best for someone else and I can encourage them to do the best for their family.
No one is going to be me. And that’s fine. God picked me and my husband for each other and gave us our babies. Just like I can’t imagine being married to anyone else’s husband, I can’t imagine raising anyone else’s kids.
A few months back, there was a play date at my house and as the kids played the other mom got her bottle out and I breastfed my son while she fed her daughter. She immediately started explaining to me that she had tried so hard with her oldest two to breastfeed but it hadn’t worked so instead of stressing about it for her third, she went right to the bottle. I smiled. Genuinely. And said “I’m really glad you tried. I’m sorry you had a hard time with it. I’m so glad you found something that works well for your family.”
Then I went to change a diaper. As soon as she saw the cloth she said “I know I’m at home and I should, but I just can’t. I have to do disposables.” Again I smiled and said “That’s ok. To be honest, sometimes I think they were easier when I worked full time and washed them one night and stuffed them the next. Now I let it go and it always feels like a chore.” She looked relieved.
I don’t have all of the answers. And there is a time not that long ago that I would have thought maybe I did. But not any more.
I have learned that I would rather be doing this mommy thing, shoulder to shoulder and in community than believing I have it figured out better than anyone else. So while I research and make decisions for my family to the best of my ability, through prayer and conversation and advice, I now realize I don’t get to be judge and jury on any one else’s journey. We are each on our own. And really doing our best in the trenches each and every day.
And our journey will have us grow. We have to keep moving forward or by standing still, we’ll end up going backwards. But we can do it together.
Beautiful. Messy. Loud. Gentle. Excruciating. Blessed.
That’s my Mother’s Day.
Thanks for being will to do life with me.
Be sure to check out The Respect Dare blogging team – Nina, author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband and Debbie, especially for parents of teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings, and you can subscribe to me in the sidebar. And connect with me on twitter @LeahHeffner and on faceboook on The Respect Dare community page.
*links to amazon are affiliate links