Renee Septimus’ article “Enough Already with the Mommy Wars” about the battle between stay-at-home and work-outside-the-home moms (because we are all working moms) got me thinking about judgment. It makes me cringe to think of how critical moms can be of one another’s career choices, and it extends beyond paychecks. If you don’t have the right car seat/stroller/enrichment class, other moms might smile (out of sympathy?) to your face and then badmouth you to anyone who will listen.
My answer to, “What do you do?” is, “As much as I can.” My first job and priority is SAHM. After that, I am a freelance journalist, and I teach group cycling classes at local gyms. I work when my daughter sleeps or is at preschool. When she is around, she has my (mostly) undivided attention.
But I’m no supermom or superwoman. I don’t say all that to earn praise because it is hard as hell to balance it all, and some days I don’t think I’m doing any good at any of my jobs. Plus, if you judged me by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines, you’d say I’m a pretty bad parent. Here’s why:
- I have been letting my daughter sleep on her stomach since she was 2-weeks-old.
- Ellie has been allowed to watch some television or a DVD since she was a month or 2.
- I turned her car seat around to face forward long before she was 2-years-old.
- Ellie doesn’t drink whole milk.
And here’s why I do these things: Because there are no hard-and-fast rules for parenting. I didn’t set out as a new mom with visions of breaking the doctor-endorsed plan, but I have found in the past two years that when kids are involved, the more you plan, the less you control.
Let me elaborate:
- If I hadn’t let Ellie–who was great at lifting and turning her head from a tender age–sleep on her stomach, I never would have slept. Her acid reflux made sleeping on her back too painful.
- I limited Ellie’s TV watching to a half-hour every couple days and most of the time I sat with her and talked about what we were seeing. When she learned the number two from “Sesame Street” (or at least when the show cemented what my husband and I had been saying) and “The Letter Factory” by LeapFrog helped her grasp the alphabet, I was sold on the educational value of some television.
- Ellie was a horrible passenger in the car. A five-minute ride became excruciating for us both. So, at 18 months, she got to face forward. Problem solved.
- Ellie doesn’t like whole milk. She won’t touch the stuff. To ensure her bones don’t break when the wind picks up, I give her two percent–with Ovaltine. Because she doesn’t like her milk without chocolate.
My point is that we as parents–moms and dads–have to do what works for us, whether it’s our work life or when we bend the “rules” to fit our needs. Remember the child-rearing adage “It takes a village to raise a child”? I am pretty sure that village wasn’t crawling with naysayers. Is it women’s seemingly natural propensity toward cattiness? I don’t know. All I know is I have enough to worry about without worrying about how socially acceptable my stroller is.
Help a mother out: Can’t we all just get along?
All that being said, I think this blog does a great job of serving as a forum of support and encouragement for parents. Criticism is always constructive and when we compare stories, we’re doing so to learn from one another, not to belittle. Keep it up, Kveller community!