The day comes when you venture to the park with your new little bundle. Excited to be out of the house you anticipate meeting other mommies at the park. Maybe you will meet a new park friend in the process.
You have chosen a nice sunny spot right next to the sandbox, where small toddlers are busy digging. Two mommies are sitting within arms-reach. You cannot quite tell if they know each other. They seem friendly enough.
Mommy #1 “I plan to breast feed my daughter for AT LEAST one year. You know, it is the best for them and I cannot understand how any mother would think to do any less”.
Mommy #2 “I tried to breast feed my son, but I didn’t make it past two months. It was painful and exhausting”.
Mommy #1 “Did you call a lactation consultant? It really is the best for them. My two other kids were breast fed until they were two and a half and they are both in the ninety-nine percentile”.
The second mommy looks somewhat put off, then quickly announces it’s almost lunchtime and exits the conversation. Not really knowing where to go, as you never produced enough milk to breast feed at all, you say “Wow. That’s great”.
Mommy #1 looks at you, “What do you do? Are you working or staying home”? Feeling cautious you keep your answer open ended, “I am spending time with my baby for now”.
Mommy #1 quickly adds, “Staying home really is best for kids. They shouldn’t be away from the mothers until they are ready to go to Kindergarten. Why have kids if you are going to pay someone else to raise them? It really doesn’t make any sense”.
My daughter is very friendly and loves making new friends EVERYwhere we go. On our weekly Friday hot cocoa date we sat enjoying our treats at the local coffee shop. To her excitement two little girls walked in with their mommies and sat at the table next to us. My daughter stepped over introducing herself and one of the mommies complimented her skirt. I encouraged her to say “thank you”. Next thing I know the mother asks my daughter to turn around, puts her hands on her waste, slightly twists her and checks the tag. I sat there stunned and speechless. She turns to her friend and loudly announces, “I would NEVER pay that much for my daughter’s clothing”! and laughs.
When preparing for motherhood no one ever tells you how to prepare responses for these conversations. Or are we always aware of how we may express our preferences to others.
What I have learned from these encounters are that I have probably, without truly recognizing what I was saying, have made a statement about what I feel is best without considering those around me. I cannot control what others say, but I can control how I react, and have taken that into account when discussing touchy topics. Same size does not fit all. Everyone has their own ideas and experiences on how they want to raise their kids. With the exception of child abuse I really don’t have the right or responsibility to overstep my opinion. If I want respect I need to show respect. I have made choices for my family and I should feel confident in my choices. It’s not about me. These comments have nothing to do with the receiver and everything to do with the sender. Thinking of an encouraging phrase can help dissipate negativity.
Lastly, surround yourself with mommies who naturally offer empathy and support mutually. Motherhood is challenging enough.