With two young babies, I’m still fairly new to this mom thing. But for years even before I got pregnant, I loved listening to stories and experiences from my friends with babies. I had an idea about what kind of delivery I wanted and how I would raise my kids; but there was so much more than that. So many options. I didn’t know about all the methods of delivery, decisions on certain things made immediately after birth, feeding and diapering options, different sleeping arrangements, and the list goes on. It’s easy to be overwhelmed. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far from some great moms throughout this journey called motherhood.
1. There’s always someone who won’t agree with you.
It might be a stranger in Target, a relative, or even your best friend. It might be because you cloth diaper, feed your kid Cheerios, have a limit on how much tv is watched, breastfeed in public, use a stroller, or choose a specific brand of just about anything. Sometimes a discussion about it is productive and sometimes it’s not. This is okay.
2. Times change.
When I was a baby, parents were told to put babies to sleep on their stomaches. Now we go by the new “Back to Sleep” concept and lay babies on their backs. Information and studies change the way we do things. Your aunt may suggest something to you that is no longer popular or even safe. I know this has happened to you at least once. She’s only sharing based on her experience and may not realize any different. Or she might just think she knows better than you. Regardless, we may find ourselves years later suggesting something to our nieces that is no longer done. Consider the source and let it go. The relationship is more important than any offense. Which brings me to number 3…
3. Don’t take offense.
So many specific decisions create opportunity for division. Somewhere during the last decade, the term “Mommy Wars” appeared, though I suspect the concept has always been around. We now tell each other to stop being so judgmental, stop mom-shaming; and we should. But what about the other side of this? Taking offense. If it’s referred to as taking offense, we can choose not to take it. We can be passionate about the choices we’ve made without being so defensive. We can hear suggestions for what they are and not necessarily as attacks. We get to decide what to do with advice or comments people give us. If we become a society of moms who are over-sensitive, we may also end up with moms who don’t feel comfortable sharing anything at all.
4. Research for yourself.
Like I mentioned earlier, there are just too many options and opinions out there when it comes to babies and motherhood. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I found an awesome doula who gave me so much information. I remember her telling me that I needed to make these decisions not based on what other “natural” mamas chose but based on my own convictions. So I read articles and different perspectives on those topics. I still research things…all the time. It’s good to be informed.
5. Celebrate things, even if it’s just getting a toddler to nap.
We should do this more often. I felt so accomplished when I was brave enough to go out in public alone with my daughter, when I drove over an hour with her to see family and when she started napping in her crib. No matter how small, if you feel like it’s a victory, celebrate it! And share your celebrations with friends; they can also serve as major encouragement.
6. Do what you feel is best for you.
If you feel like a certain method/brand/choice is right for you and your family, then that’s all that matters. As moms, we get this awesome responsibility of raising amazing little people, and it’s our job to make the best decisions. Be confident in your choices.
I hope to one day share my experiences (which I’m sure will include opinions) with the next generation of moms because I value what I’ve learned from other moms who are a step ahead of me. Keep sharing. Keep listening. So the next time your best friend, or even a stranger, suggests you try a different brand of wipes, diapers or just plain coconut oil for your sensitive-skinned babe, don’t assume she’s saying you’re a bad mom. Take her advice or don’t; but don’t take offense. Remember we are all on the same team and have at least one thing in common – we are moms who are doing our best. Imagine all we can learn from each other if we decided to stop taking offense.