Siberia

I’ve been warned yet again, by a good friend, about posting links to articles on my facebook page which might cause offence to some people.

polarbear_feeding_cubsI’m not talking about articles that are sexist, racist, or revolting. I tend to post articles that explore, and usually compare, different parenting choices and philosophies, like this, and this, or this . I link to them, because I find them interesting, and they usually reflect something about my own experiences.

So, why do they cause problems? Because people think I’m judging their own choices.

Yet I really don’t think I am. I completely understand that each individual – and I’m talking about every individual in each individual family unit – has their own experiences, knowledge and needs that shape the ‘choices’ they take in parenthood. I use ‘choices’ because I also understand that sometimes they’re not exactly first choices, and sometimes we have them foisted on us by outside forces (i.e. being unable to breastfeed for medical reasons).

It’s just that you don’t seem to be able to state your personal opinions without causing offence. Since when has offence been the first reaction, though? Why can’t we feel free to debate? Are we too scared of being wrong? Every opinion should be available for debate – how else do we actually discuss ideas? An opinion is just that – not a fact, an opinion. Something to be discussed. Mums, especially, seem to be very defensive about choices – when we should feel the right to be matter-of-fact about them. I occasionally tell people that my 4yo still requests boobfeeds. I don’t tell them that to judge what they’re doing. I tell them that because that’s part of my life and I’m finding it challenging at the moment.

On another note, Clever Mama had a guest post about the importance of women supporting each other through life. Now, I’m one of those people who always thinks they get along better with the blokes – I understand their humour, and I like their honesty (to throw in a couple of generalisations) – but the article got me thinking. When I had kids, I knew that I needed to reach out to find other mums to connect to, because it can be lonely. As a shy person, this was (and still is) agonisingly difficult or me to do. But I attended local playgroups, went to ABA meetings, and even organised some get-togethers with other mums who I went to uni with.

It was a rewarding experience, and I loved talking to other mums- especially the ones who I shared a bit of humour, philosophy, history or sleep-deprivation with. But I have always been shy. And I have always doubted that others like me. I realise now that’s connected to the anxiety, but that’s my problem, and something I’m going to have to learn to overcome.

What I’d like others to overcome (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) is the notion that by sharing ideas, opinions and parts of me – who I am – that I’m judging, being spiteful or trying to hurt. That’s just not me.

siberia

So….I’ve gone into exile in terms of facebook. I check it a couple of times a week for messages.

I’ve also gone into exile from life a bit. I’m burying myself in work – which I enjoy, but creates a lot of pressure for the few hours I work – and we don’t seem to visit people anymore. My 4yo asks if we can visit this person or that, and I keep making excuses because I can’t remember if I’ve possibly offended them, so best to stay clear.

I’ll get over it. And myself. But I just need a bit of clear thinking space where I can do a bit of soul-searching.

Ah, the serenity…

mucking in the mother guilt

Becoming a mother leaves you open to all sorts of criticism and unwanted advice – some good, most not. Whether it be what age you introduce solids, how long you should breastfeed, how you discipline your child (or don’t), or what you should do to get your baby to sleep through the night.

There’s a lot of pressure on mamas to make the right choices. Having people constantly asking you whether your baby sleeps through the night is one of these pressures.

Sleeping like a baby?

My little girl was a cat-napper, woke numerous times (at one stage hourly) through the night which she could only be coaxed back to nod by a breastfeed, and didn’t respond to any of the gentle sleep cues we worked so long and hard at. At nine months of age, in desperation due to undiagnosed post-natal depression and in response to much prodding from family & friends, we tried Sleep School. It didn’t work for us.

Then something wonderful happened. I talked to a couple of mums with older kids, who had exactly the same trouble as me, and guess what? Their children now slept through the night. There was an end in sight.  Instead of cursing her for disturbing my sleep – I took on the role of soothing her back to sleep. Acceptance, and knowing that others had been there before, helped me.

The reason I’m writing this is because I often post articles on my personal facebook page about gentle sleep techniques, as opposed to controlled crying, to help a few other mums who I know are going through the same thing, and let them know it’s alright. There have been numerous articles recently about controlled crying, like this, this and this.

Unfortunately, I’ve inadvertently ostracised a few mums who have had to go down the cc route – especially one wonderful mum who has been such a great support for me the last couple of years. I really didn’t mean to do that – after all, I tried the Sleep School, too. I know it works for some people, but it doesn’t work for everybody.

The headlines (‘baby torture’, ‘could damage brain development’) are not helpful to the people that actually need that information. Even though I was trying to provide support and information to some mamas, I was actually adding to the mummy-war arsenal, albeit unintentionally: there is so much guilt and negativity in the headlines alone.

So what do I do? Do I remove the articles, or do I add some sort of disclosure/warning? The content in the articles is still valid, but I don’t want to make other mamas feel guilty because they’ve taken a different route in this crazy car called Parenthood.

I hope my friend will forgive me – I will try and work up the courage to call her, but I’m still having a rough time with anxiety at the moment, and the thought of an unanswered call makes me jittery.

My philosophy is that we all do things differently. Each kid is different, and each parent is, too. We should do what we feel is right for our own families. We get defensive about our choices as parents, when, really, we should just accept them as done and move on. Easier said than done, when everybody wants to put their own two cents in, but then again, isn’t it wonderful that we have so many choices to make as parents, that we can all do things differently? I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice. There’s just life, and you do what you do to get on with it.