Dropping the Guilt

Five years ago I dropped the Guilt.  I stopped judging myself.  I stopped criticizing myself.  And others.  I stopped blaming myself for sleepless nights, deviations from a strict feeding schedule and shabby weight gain.  Five years ago, I let go of rigidity, pressure and stress.  I embraced the sleepless nights.  I welcomed the midnight feedings and relished in all day (and night) cuddles.  I gave up trying desperately to be the pre-baby person I used to be.  I began being a Mama.  Which is really kind of ridiculous considering I already had been for nearly three years prior…

I had planned for a natural delivery with my oldest but he apparently had a bad sense of direction and when he refused to point his head north, we ended up with a c-section with 6 days notice.  The first blow to Mama’s self esteem.  His means of entrance into this world was also the birth of Guilt.  Deep, self-loathing, ugly Guilt.  Poor latching issues, coupled with slow weight gain, compounded by a steady stream of well-meaning guests seemed like good places to point blame in the those early months of stress; however, I could only credit them with supporting roles.   I looked at the plastic faces of mothers smiling with their eyes closed as they held half-naked babies on the diaper package.  I kind of hated them.  How could they be so happy with this?  Why don’t I feel like that?

I was kind of a crappy Mama to my sweet first child.  I certainly could have been worse- there was no neglect, no shortage of snuggles, playtime or love.  But I could have been happier.  I could have done it better.  I could have lived in the moment instead of thinking ahead to the next.  And judging myself every step of the way.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

I had missed the boat on happiness and I would be damned if I was going to do it again.  Call it a new outlook, confidence, or chance.  Call it rebounding from a devastating miscarriage.  Call it relief from a stressful, agonizing pregnancy.  Call it what you want but something inside me clicked.  With the birth of my second child, I really became a Mama.  I started to enjoy being a Mama.  I stopped fighting the warmth of cuddling a baby while the whole world happened around.  I threw out the schedules (and the books), let go of the nightly bath routine (seriously, what was my hang-up with that?) and kicked that ugly bitch called Guilt to the curb.  And now, I am a better Mama.

Five years ago, my Mooch was born.  I honestly had never known a greater feeling.  He taught me to be a softer, more patient Mama to my oldest and prepared me for the insanity of my youngest (and holy shit, insanity is a gross understatement).  I am inspired by his love for life and his willingness to welcome changes; his openness to unconditional love.

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His fifth birthday also marks the death of Mama Guilt.  The Guilt still makes plenty of guest appearances, haunting me at the first sign of insecurity; lurking, waiting for weakness.  When Guilt rears up, ready to pounce, I carefully, diligently fold her back up, put the lid on her box and place her back up on the top shelf of the closet and close the door.  I put her away.  In the dark.  Where I never want to be again.

This year, as I wish my sweet Mooch a delightful fifth birthday, I also celebrate the death of Mama Guilt.  Peace Mamas.

Something a Little Different…

My little guy is in love.  With boobs.  My boobs.

I have to begin by saying that there may be some naysayers out there- some of my closest friends and even family.  I am nursing my 28 month old.  Some friends have nursed past six months, some past a year, and some still past two years.  I am aware though that I am a minority.  We nurse before nap and bedtime every day.  And most mornings.  And when he’s sick.  And when he takes a wicked head-knocker.  But that’s it.  Promise.

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Co-workers: Some know and some don’t.  The ones who know may talk behind my back or not.  The ones who don’t, well they may now.

Family: They know.  Most support.  Some judge.  Some pretend they are cool with it- and those usually ask way too many questions.

Friends: Well, there are two camps.  Camp One: Supporters.  Camp Two: Non-supporters.  Nuff said.

I didn’t ever make a decision that I would nurse long term.  When he was born, I remember thinking we’ll just go as long as we can.  The La Leche (nazi-breast feeders) says that children will wean themselves by a year, two at the most.  Lies!  These are lies!  No child of mine has ever “self-weaned”.  It’s a forced week of crying and husband hating.  But still.  Let’s try this.  A year came and went.  Well, let’s see what happens.  Eighteen months.  Huh.  He surely will wean by two!  Two years old.  Um.  Where exactly are we going with this?  I have no clue.

And people want to know.  They seem to really want to know.  Oh, you haven’t weaned yet?  How long are you going to go?  Well, he’s got to stop by kindergarten!  No wonder he’s so attached to you…

The truth is that I shouldn’t care.  I shouldn’t let stares, comments, questions bother me.  Because I am not nursing other people.  I am nursing my child.  But it matters to me.  I can’t help but feel insecure.  It’s not enough to make me wean him but it’s enough to make me more guarded about who I tell.  It’s enough to make me feel insecure.  And it’s enough for me to ask myself Should this be over?

Whatever we are doing seems to be working for us.  So please.  Unless you have nursed an older baby, unless you have seen that little latched smile, unless you have had your breasts kissed goodbye, and even if you haven’t: please don’t judge.

We Mamas make choices that we think are the best for our children and we feel strongly that these are the safest, smartest, most logical decisions.  We scour the internet, read books (and books and books!), take classes, talk to our friends, listen to our Mamas, our sisters, teachers, babysitters.  We buy stupid stuff that people tell us we need, or that we see others using so it has to be useful, right?  We bend over backwards to make sure our kids will have the best shot at life.  That they will grow up to be smarter, more secure, more independent, stronger, softer, healthier, more successful then the generation before.  So why do we judge the decisions of others so harshly?  I believe it’s because we are insecure.  We need some shred of assurance that we did the right thing.  And we get that by shooting down the choices that others make which might differ from our own.

Be secure.  Your child is alive.  Your child is strong.  Your child will be smart and independent and healthy.  Because of you.  And mine will be because of me.

A beautiful thing has happened because of this blog.  Mamas are coming together. I am not taking credit for this- it’s merely happened that women with children have been brought together because we all yell at our children.  We all know we shouldn’t.  We don’t judge each other.  I feel the strength from my closest friends when we trade texts about how our kids are driving us up the wall and it seems not quite as bad.  It seems comforting, reassuring, comical even.  We need each other.  We need cheer each other on.  Let’s try to do the same with sleep training, homeschooling, potty training, curfews, breastfeeding.

Peace Mamas.  Feel the love of Mamahood!