To My Post-Partum Self: Things I Wish I’d Known has been blowing up my Facebook newsfeed, so during W’s nap yesterday I finally sat down and read it. And, she got it (almost) all right. At first I found myself nodding along: boobs, do what works, you’re not alone, take a time out, ask for help, don’t clean, find your tribe…and then I got uneasy. Be a hater? This is where the “almost” comes in. Yeah, she got it (almost) all right…except for being a hater.
Ick. Ugh. Shift in my chair. Not sure I like that.
After digesting it all, I get that the overall message of the article is not to hate on other moms. It’s acknowledgement of the crazy and reassurance to new moms they’re doing a great job and all will be OK. I just don’t think being a hater (even a little bit, even jokingly) is what I want to tell my post-partum self…or my friends who just had babies…and are about to have babies. Of course I’ve done it. We all have. And I think Shattuck means to encourage you to forgive yourself if you do get a bit judgy-pants (which I agree with). But making ourselves “feel better” at the expense of others – of new moms – it’s just not very productive. Or supportive. Or kind. Parenting is hard enough as it is, and if you’re anything like me, you probably already second guess every decision you make when it comes to your baby. Do we really want to wonder if every other new mother out there is “hating” on us? Nope. Not me.
Women already face too much sexism (along with every other ism) for us to fear that the one group of people who are supposed to be our “tribe” are secretly – or not so secretly – judging our choices. The truth of the matter is that all moms want the best for their children. All moms do the best with what they have. All moms make the best decisions they can for their children. Even if that means breastfeeding in public. Even if that means formula. Even if that means WIC. Even if that means homemade baby food. Even if that means “big designer diaper bags brimming with healthy snacks and water and sunscreen and extra outfits and hand sanitizer.”
So here’s my revision, Shattuck…from one mom in Maine to another:
Be a hater Be kind to yourself.
When the doubt creeps in and you’re comparing yourself to other mamas…be kind to yourself and know you’re doing the best you can, mama. Your baby doesn’t care whether you’re size 6 or 16. There’s only one you and you’re perfect for your baby. Always and in all ways. So when you find yourself in yuck-ville, take a deep breath and: take a break, ask for help, know you’re not alone and spend time with your tribe. You are on your way.
Thankfully 99% of Shattuck’s article follows this philosophy, which I loved. A few other readers, and Shattuck herself, reflected that this section could have been a bit more thoughtful. I appreciate her owning that! We all have the right to change our minds No shame in that. So come on, ladies. Let’s stick together. If we can’t count on each other to support our, albeit different, parenting choices…then who can we count on?