This is my first official post as a WordPress user. In the last few months, I’ve sunk my teeth deep into the world of blogging, and thought I needed to start a fresh project, where I could really be who I truly am. Everything I truly am.
But let’s start with being a mom, since motherhood has been my biggest inspiration for blogging lately, and since I am a regular contributor on Liberating Working Moms.
I have noticed that people always think their ways are the best ways. I used to be one of those people. Until I started to hate those people.
When I was a kid, my family members and I all went to the same dentist who liked to tell jokes while his hands split open the sides of your mouth. This is one of my favorites. A joke that made my mom spit her own saliva right at him before he could get that sucky thing out.
Three Southern Belles are sitting on the veranda of a very spacious plantation sipping mint juleps. The second Southern Belle asks the first Southern Belle, “What did your husband get you upon the birth of your first child?”
The first Southern Belle says, “Upon the birth of my first child my husband bought me that lovely swimmin’ pool you see over there down the lawn.”
The second Southern Belle nods in appreciation and the third Southern Belle says, “How nice.”
Then the first Southern Belle asks the second Southern Belle, “Well, what did your husband get you upon the birth of your first child?”
The second Southern Belle smiles radiantly and says, “Upon the birth of my first child, my husband bought me this beautiful diamond ring.” She holds her hand out for all to admire.
The first Southern Belle exclaims, “Well, my! How very lovely!” and the third Southern Belle says, “How nice.”
Then the first Southern Belle and the second Southern Belle turn to the third Southern Belle and ask, “Well hon, don’t keep us waitin’. What did your husband buy you?”
The third Southern Belle turns her head down demurely and then looks up with the slightest smile. She says, “Upon the birth of my first child, my husband sent me to charm school.”
“Charm school?” ask the first and second Southern Belle. “But why?”
“Well,” she answers, sipping her mint julep. “So I could learn to say things like ‘how nice’ instead of ‘I don’t give a shit.’”
I’m no Southern Belle. Quite the contrary. I’ve lived in Florida most of my life, but I’m a New Yorker by birth and at heart. I think that’s why I like this joke. I don’t say “I don’t give a shit” when people offer unwanted or unsolicited advice to me. But I think it. Because really, what gives you any right to tell me how to live my life or raise my child? What gives anyone that right?
So, here’s my story, or part of it. I married my high school sweetheart the month after I graduated from college. I’ve never been what you would call a “baby person.” Sure, I babysat for friends and family members, volunteered in the nursery at my church, and I’m a teacher by profession, but I always gravitated toward older children. The ones who walked, talked, wiped their own asses. The ones, for the most part, with whom I could reason. To me, babies meant screaming. And I don’t handle screaming well.
My husband and I agreed we would probably have two kids maximum (if the first one went well) and that we would wait 3-5 years to start “trying.” Two months before our third wedding anniversary, my prince was born. And he, and only he, has made me into the baby person I never was and thought I never could be. And his raising is up to his daddy and me. Plain and simple.
I love my son with an everlasting love. He is a happy baby. He has never been (should I delete that because I’m jinxing something?) sick in his almost eleven months of life. He crawls. He stands on his own. He talks a mile a minute—even though I can’t understand a word of it. He fake sneezes when you say, “God bless you.” He laughs like it’s his job. He climbs on everything. He watches ball games with me–like watches them for real. So when someone tells me what a disappointment I am to mothers everywhere because I didn’t exclusively breastfeed or use cloth diapers, I have to laugh, and think what the third Southern Belle had the gall to speak aloud.
For my first post on WordPress, I wanted to do the “mommy blog” thing. But I don’t want to do the typical tell-you-what-to-do mommy blogging. Because I’ll bet you’re a good mom. Even if you are different from me. So I guess, what I want to do, is stop the madness. Please, please, please, stop the incessant “you shoulds.” We’re all mothers. Our goal is the same: a happy, healthy child.
So, here is my favorite—or, not so favorite—comment from a judgmental nobody. If you’re an expectant mother, be prepared to hear some of these jabs. If you are already a mother, you either know where I’m coming from or you live under a rock. And if you are the type of person who would make this comment, either learn not to, or get off my blog, don’t follow me on Twitter. I don’t want to know you.
I was in Babies ‘R Us when my son was just a couple of months old and yes, I was already buying formula. We’ll save the formula argument for another post, though. A woman behind me (who I assumed just wanted to make friendly conversation) greeted me as we both waited in line. The following conversation ensued:
“Do you mind my asking what that costs?” she asked, pointing to the formula bottles (ready-to-feed Similac Alimentum in case you were wondering, otherwise known as liquid gold).
Yes, I mind… I thought to myself. “They’re about $9.00 each,” I answered, realizing that by the time my son turned a year old, my bank account would be nearly $3,000 lighter because of formula. God help me.
“Well, I’ll make sure to tell my daughter that,” she stuck her nose up in the air. “She’s planning on breastfeeding. And this will encourage her.”
You uppity, nosey, overweight, know-it-all… “Well, congratulations on your grandchild,” I smiled through gritted teeth. “And I hope breastfeeding works out for her.”
I paid and left the store, angry, baffled, a slew of emotions jumbled into one.
I’m an outspoken person, but the thing I pride myself in is that I try (I said try) not to put my foot in my mouth. I try to think before I speak and I always ask myself, “What if?” This lady—and I use that term loosely—failed to think of the what-ifs before she let her comments flow.
Things Obnoxious Nosey Lady Should Have Asked Herself (because I actually can testify to all of the following situations):
What if…this is the foster mother of multiple children taken from the same abusive drug addict?
What if…this is a woman who has been on fertility treatments for months to no avail, and she’s buying formula for her sister-in-law’s child because they’re a little strapped for cash?
What if…this is a mother who takes a medication that is necessary to her physical well-being but also prevents her from breastfeeding?
What if…this is a first-time mother who has sat and watched her underweight premature baby in the NICU while nurses feed him through a tube?
What if…this is a single mother who has to go back to work tomorrow and just doesn’t have enough supply to pump?
If she had taken a second to think of one or more of these possibilities, she would have kept her unkind and boundary-overstepping comment inside her judgmental, close-minded little brain. But she didn’t. Thankfully, I’ve grown some figurative mommy balls in recent months, and the comment didn’t make me cry like it would’ve in previous years. But it did make me think.
The reason why the world is such a cruel place is because of people like this. People who are so intolerant of anything with which they may disagree. People who don’t think before they speak. What are you so afraid of? That I can’t possibly be a caring mother because I’m purchasing formula? That your daughter might fail at breastfeeding, too?
Really, that’s what it boils down to. Ignorance, hate and judgment are all driven by fear and insecurity. And I refuse to live my life by either.