I will admit that before I became a mother, I was one of the judgmental ones. I liked to think that I wasn’t. Honestly, I thought I didn’t care about what mothers did because I didn’t think motherhood had anything to do with me. But now I realize that I held an idea of perfect motherhood within me, and even if I never expressed my judgement, I was still judgmental.
The other day, two things happened that made me realize this. First, I asked my husband to bring me a book to read while I was breastfeeding. He chastised me, because Peatuk tends to get easily distracted. It’s true, and I know I can’t use my tablet or computer while he is eating. But still… I told him I would make him hold our son for half an hour three or four times a day, doing nothing but looking at him. Would he make it through a day? A week? I have been doing this for 10 months.
The same day, I was chatting with an old friend and I mentioned I had to go feed my son. He said he hoped I wasn’t feeding him formula because his sister uses formula and he is certain it causes many negatives, like the child not being toilet trained by three years old. I think the first reaction that would have been natural is pride, because I DO breastfeed. But it wasn’t. Instead, I was angry.
Who is someone without a child to judge a mother as lazy because she doesn’t adhere to his semi-researched ideals? How much does he know about breastfeeding, or potty training for that matter? What does he actually grok about raising a child? And what if I was supplementing with formula? Isn’t that between me, my doctor, and my child? Not every person who wants to comment on my child but not take on the responsibility themselves?
There are plenty of reasons a woman cannot breastfeed. But even if she can, it is draining, often painful when they learn to bite, and does not work well with work or any life outside of child rearing. But people assume that when you become a mother, you should take on these difficulties easily. Happily. With excitement.
I love my son. I love the bond we have created through breastfeeding and weaning will be difficult. However, I recognize how difficult it can be. I also know I could not breastfeed without the emotional and physical support of my husband and mother in law, who anticipate my trials an help me through them, whether it is bringing me a glass of water or rag to catch spilling milk, or taking Peatuk for a few hours so I can (finally) get some alone time.
I could be one of those people who think that if I could do it, anyone should be able to. If I suffered through it, I should hold it as a standard to others. I am not though, and I like that about myself. When I struggle through something, my first thought is how I can make it easier for future people. Not, because I had to do it, it is only fair that others have to do it, too. This isn’t about fairness. It is about compassion. It isn’t about a gold standard for raising children, it is about the relationship between a child an those around them.
Being a mother has taught me a lot this year. Above all, I think it has taught me compassion. And I ask, whether you have kids or not, please stop judging mothers.