Why I’m No Longer In A Mom’s Group

In previous posts I mentioned that I had joined a mom’s group and it was good for me, with my anxiety disorder and my fear of new people and places. It was good for Peyton’s social skills and getting her out and about. I really had high hopes for this working out. I slowly began to really come to the conclusion that in the end, I’m not cut out to be “that mom”.

What do I mean by “that mom”?

The mom who judges every little parenting choice of someone else. The mom who knows exactly the right way to parent YOUR child. Somehow, the manual to your kid popped out of her vagina with her kid. Apparently, you missed the memo, you are doing it all wrong. It’s right here in Chapter Six of “Raising Punky 101”. It’s the mom who thinks that if you aren’t parenting your kid the way they do, you are wrong, your kid will be a sociopath. The mom who is so very nice to your face, despite the obvious differences in opinion, but in a public internet forum, bashes your choices in a passive-aggressive way.

I’m not good at being that mom. And, apparently, I’m even worse at dealing with that mom.

You know, it’s not even that these comments are being personally directed at me. A lot of times, it’s just a general statement about one parenting choice or another. The problem is, it’s hurtful and I want so badly to say something, but instead, I hold my tongue. I’m really not the type to bite my tongue for very long. I’m really not very good at it.

It’s not even that these comments were directly solely at me and in some cases at me at all.

When you go out with a group of moms to relax and have a good time, I notice that all the ladies have a glass or two of wine or something related (unless breastfeeding of course). When one mom thinks it’s ok to call another one a “lush”, joking or not, it hurts people’s feelings and embarrasses people. Why say things like that? Because women are the best as making a ‘joke’ out of something they truly feel to soften the blow and not make themselves look bad.

Articles about car seats really bother the shit out of me. But, I don’t really say anything anymore. Not since I was basically told I was a bad mother (in not so many words) because we followed our pediatrician’s recommendations for Punky and turned her front facing when she turned 12 months old. She’s bigger for her age and frankly, she screamed in the car the entire time we were in there while she was rear-facing. I was happy to turn her ’round.

When I explained this as my experience and my opinion (not once mentioning anything about anyone who didn’t do this) I was slapped with a comment about how I should get a different pediatrician. And another mother, an expert in car seat safety, posted a video about what will happen to my daughter in an accident. I’m sure it’s all well meaning, but at the end of the day, hurtful and just another way to make a new mother feel crappy about herself.

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Let’s not take into consideration that I have an anxiety disorder. My eagerness to turn Punky around had more to do with my anxiety than anything else. When she was rear-facing, I couldn’t see her. I’m forgetful. Seriously. I couldn’t stop imagining that I would be one of those moms who left her in the car on a hot day. Even now, front-facing, I imagine my reaction to finding her dead in the back seat because I forgot about her back there for one reason or another. It’s part of my anxiety disorder, I picture these things the entire time we are in the car with Punky in the back seat.

During posts of seemingly support seeking mothers, especially those with small children who won’t sleep, the claws came out all the time. So, a mother posts about how she’s really having a hard time with the lack of sleep and looking for suggestions. The first time I posted that we used the cry it out method and how we did it and why and how it worked for us. The response I got from the mother was this: “With all due respect, crying it out is NOT an option in our home.” Well, excuse me for giving you a suggestion.

The comments continued with things like, “It’s unnatural for a mother to feel fine allowing her child to cry and not do anything.” “I can’t imagine leaving my child in her room alone and scared.”

These comments weren’t specifically directed at me, but I felt the sting. Wow. I’m a shitty mom because I let Punky cry herself to sleep one night. Let’s not take into consideration that both K and I were exhausted and really ready to shake this baby at the time. But excuse me, ladies, you don’t get to worry about your own well-being. Again, we took recommendations from our pediatrician to put her in her own room and let her cry it out. Not only for her health and need to get more sleep, but our sanity.

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Guess what, no one thought to take into consideration that I was sitting outside her door the entire time she was crying, tears streaming down my own face. K had to practically sit on me, because we knew it was best for Punky and best for our relationship and wellbeing. It was the hardest night of my life. Yet, Punky is the best sleeper I have ever met, mothers are astonished that she goes to sleep at 8:30PM and doesn’t wake up until at least 9:30 or 10AM. I get surprised faces when I tell people that she loves taking naps and we rarely have a fight when it is time as she will clearly say “Nap” and head to her room, when she is tired and usually right around the same predictable time.

But, screw me. I shouldn’t have allowed her to cry it out for one time and apparently, I’m unnatural and not a great mother for allowing her to be independant.

Don’t get me started on vaccinations. I will be real honest here. Do I think it’s weird that there are people who don’t vaccinate their kids? Honestly. I do. But, I have never said anything to these mothers. They are making their own choices and they are doing what they feel is right for their religious beliefs or their family or whatever.

So, why is it that I hear one of my good friends was told she was uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid? Seriously? Someone said that. See that’s the case of the comments not being directed at me, but I have a few choice words I could say in response to that hurtful and highly offensive comment. But, I bite my tongue, instead of defend my friend’s choice, defend my choice. Because if she’s uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid, then shit, so am I. Awesome, at this point, I’m really doing a great parenting job according to these moms.

Other things I have felt while in this group:

  • If you are on the computer and not constantly talking to your kid, you are bad mother and doing your kid a disservice. (Let’s forget that my second job is online, that I am actually making money for my family, while on this computer.)

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  • If you aren’t still breastfeeding your child after a year old, you are not supermom. (Let’s not mention that Punky couldn’t latch and I hated pumping because it caused me mastitis and my breasts were constantly on fire or in pain)
  • If you let your child watch TV, you will rot their brain and toddlers just don’t benefit at all by watching anything that is currently on TV. (Never mind the fact that Punky has learned how to speak from conversations with Dora and learned to jump, clap, and wave from the GiggleBellies).2013-06-29 05.09.28
  • You don’t feed your kid organic food? Bad Mom! (Except, jesus, organic food is expensive and we are living paycheck to paycheck. But, then, you use cloth diapers so you don’t have to worry about not having diapers for your kid. Another strike against me, whoops.) Of course, I suppose I could just get on the cloth diaper bandwagon, except we live in an apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer and can’t afford to wash our clothes as often as I would like, let alone shitty diapers. But, then again, I’m sure these moms just think we shouldn’t have a kid until we are financially stable enough to do this very important things that cost more money.

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  • One meetup I proposed to take the kids to the city hall steps to play in the fountains. I posted a picture of Punky, MY DAUGHTER, playing in the fountains. One of the comments I got was “I don’t know if that’s safe for my child.” For real? So, I suggested an activity that I have done with my own child, but it’s not safe for other people’s children. Way to basically say that I’m putting my kid in a dangerous situation and how dare I put yours in the same boat.

The last straw was about the debate on stay at home moms and working moms. All the instances above, I have pretty much not gotten involved, not since the crying it out and car seat instance. Because if I get involved, I’m likely to get banned and I really did like getting to know some of these ladies and we are still friends on Facebook. So, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say anything.

Then a post about how being a stay at home mom was so much harder than a working mother. Working mothers had it easy because they didn’t have to change diapers and they didn’t have to deal with the constant tantrums and nap fighting and the exhaustion.

Excuse me?

I know how hard it is to be a stay at home mom, I live with one. I also know how hard it is to be a working mother, I am one! Each one of us has a different kind of challenge and hard work in different areas, but the challenges weigh the same. So, while I figured this mom was just trying to get some support for her own challenges, but she took the opportunity to shoot down working mothers in the process.

It brings me to tears every freaking day when I lay her down for her afternoon nap, knowing that I won’t see her again until morning when she wakes up. It is hard to come home for lunch, because she’s awake and when I leave, she thinks she’s coming too. When I shut the door and she can’t come, I can hear her disappointment plain as day in her cry through the door.

To give K a break, she gets to sleep in and I get up early with Punky and take her places before work. Am I exhausted? You bet your ass I am. But, I am helping my partner, the stay at home mom, and I am finding the only time I can get with my kid while I put food in her belly by working and making a life for her.

Whether she did it intentionally or not, I’m not sure. I don’t think she did. However, when someone pointed it out that her comments might be hurtful to working mothers, she got defensive and basically said she didn’t know why her comments could be construed as unfair.

That’s what broke my spirit. If you say things unintentionally that hurt someone’s feelings. How about we just acknowledge that perhaps you hadn’t thought about how things would be perceived.

I promptly left the group. Simply because if I said what I wanted to say on the forum, I’d make ladies cry. So, instead I post it here.

With my anxiety disorder, I take medication damnit, to regulate my mood and my anxiety, this kind of environment doesn’t sit well with me and it makes it very hard for me to function. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m certain I suffered from a small case of postpartum after having Punky and I already felt like a shitty mom, I don’t need anyone to help me think that about myself.

None of us need to have that in our lives. We are all mothers, doing the best we can for our kids.

And frankly, children learn from their parents, mothers in particular. Children teach their friends their habits. I’m not interested in bringing Punky into that kind of learning.

So, while I think that the mom’s group was beneficial for making a few great friends, I am not cut out to hold my tongue anymore about unfeeling comments made about other people’s choices and debates and Mommy Wars. I’m just not built to withstand the drama.

Hey Parents, Let’s Stop Parenting With Fear

I’m not sure I will ever understand the idea of parenting with fear. The media and the ‘research’ out there is geared towards fear and scaring the shit out of new moms and dads. We are in a constant state of fear when it comes to our kids. Making sure they are eating right, sleeping right, playing right, talking right, walking right, freaking blinking right. Or if you are a Whovian, you teach that kid not to blink at all.

Where is the line drawn?

In the end, does it really matter what the research says? No two kids are the same. No two techniques work for the same child nor for the same family. Why then, are we letting ourselves get all worked up about what the media says is the right way to parent? Why are we up in arms if the mother next to us isn’t doing the same thing we are.

Are there great benefits to breastfeeding? Absolutely! However, there are some women who can’t breastfeed and frankly, formula feeding your baby is just fine. They get the same nutrients, the same nurturing from a bottle as they do the breast.  I did both. I breastfed and yet, my baby didn’t latch properly – ever. It was never something we were really in sync with, Punky and I. So, I pumped. I hated it, but I pumped because I felt like I was obligated to, because I wasn’t a good mother if I didn’t give my child breast milk.

You know what I learned? Punky loved me either way. Punky just wanted milk and her Mommy. She didn’t necessarily need the two together from the same body. She was perfectly content to have formula as well, when I made the decision to stop pumping, because my breasts were getting mastitis from not being able to pump regularly when I went back to work. Punky didn’t mind. AND, frankly, I’m sure she would rather her Mommy feel better and not be in constant pain that drink breast milk.

Is it possible that crying it out can be stressful for a baby’s little brain? Absolutely! However, there are women who need to sleep in order to be better for their child. I was one of those women. I let my baby cry it out. I did in fact sleep train my baby. You know what the results were? One night of Mommy and baby crying it out and then …. a very happy, well adjusted toddler, who takes naps like a champ and doesn’t have a problem sleeping through the night from 8:30 PM until 10 AM.

It’s absolutely bullshit to sit there and say that ‘research’ says that crying it out has adverse effects on EVERY child. I refuse to believe that. Do I think excessive crying can be stressful for a baby? Yes. I do, but in the same token, we all know it’s more stressful for Mommies. The argument “If you hear your child crying and it doesn’t pull at you like a heartache, there’s something wrong with you” is accurate. However, it really pisses me off when people assume that I’m a heartless mother because I let my child cry it out for 1 night. Let’s get something straight right now, I read the research for both sides and let me tell you something, both sides blow each other out of the water. In the end, the conclusion in, it doesn’t matter if you use the sleep train method, the crying out method, the rocking method. Use what works for YOUR kid and stop assuming things about people you know nothing about.

Is organic the purest way to eat? That’s what we hear. It is likely better than fast food, well, duh, of course it is. However, if organic seller were really concerned with our health, they would make their foods more affordable. Period. What’s really the difference between organic apples and regular old apples? I’m not sure, I simply don’t know. I’m not afraid to admit that. The major difference I see is the price tag. So, in the end of the day, Punky can have the apples that have the same look and taste at a fraction of the cost. There’s no way I think it’s appropriate to tell my daughter that she has to rape her wallet just to eat an apple. If you can afford organic, I think that’s awesome, but let’s not forget that most of America is struggling to make ends meet. They don’t need to be made to feel bad that they can’t give their child the ‘right’ fruits and veggies.

In regards to the fast food debate, Punky gets fast food. We eat fast food in this house. A chicken nugget is not going to kill anyone. Is it likely not as healthy as some carrot sticks, yes, that’s right, it’s not the healthiest food out there to give your kid. However, after a very long day at work, shockingly some parents work, we don’t have time or energy to cook a full meal and still have time to spend time with our kid. So, would I rather sacrifice a few carrot sticks for precious time with my daughter? You bet I would. At the end of the day, don’t let someone make you feel bad for the food choices you give your child. Organic, regular, fast food, is your kid getting fed? Yes. Are they healthy weight? Yes. Then who gives a damn what others think!

Can it be a reality that spanking your child can hurt? Yes, you better believe it. I know from personal experience that a good spanking can sting like hell. However, are there really adverse effects to a little smack on the hand or diapered rear? I guess it depends on the child, doesn’t it? There’s a great big difference between spanking and beating your child. I will be the first to say that I don’t think spanking should be used as a scare tactic for controlling children. However, there are some times when a child needs more than a shake of the finger and a raised voice to get their attention.

I’m not advocating one way or another, because we do both timeout and smacks on the hand around here. If Punky is getting into something she’s not supposed to be, after a resounding “No.” if she doesn’t listen, it’s possible she will get a smack on her hand to show her that it’s unacceptable to touch whatever her fingers are reaching for. If she is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the living room, I remove her from the situation and place her in an area where she can’t get attention for her behavior. Let’s just remember that a spanking doesn’t mean you are beating your child. We should all know the difference, seriously.

I could go on and on about the things we parents let others dictate is right or wrong. What we allow the media to drive fear into us. TV or no TV? Front facing carseats or not? Cutting their hair or not? Gender stereotypes, gender roles, and much much more.

What’s the moral of my story here?

Kids don’t come with a manual, parenting doesn’t come with a training class.  Stop stressing yourself out. Stop stressing your kid out. Shit, stop stressing ME out.

Do what’s right for you. Do what’s right for your child. We have enough going on in our lives now, too much in fact, to allow someone who isn’t living in our home to dictate how we raise our children. Do you love your kid? Do you show your kid you love them? Are they fed, dressed, bathed, and healthy? Do your children have a roof over their heads and parents who love them? If so, forget the fear tactics and the ‘rules’. Do what’s best for your kid and stop judging others for a choice that may or may not be the same as yours.

Happy parenting, you all!