If you know me in "real life", or if you've read this post that I wrote in March, then you know that I am an advocate of breastfeeding and I am a proud nursing momma.
However, there is a whole lot of Internet Snark™ that seems to come to the forefront when it comes to the subject of breastfed babies vs. formula fed babies. And I guess that I just got fed up from it all.
My best friend literally went to hell and back in an attempt to nurse her newborn baby and I had to sit by helplessly while I watched her berate herself over and over again when circumstances beyond her control prevented her from being able to breastfeed. She seriously felt like a BAD MOM. A bad mom! This girl who tried so hard to nurse that she almost wound up in the hospital thought she was a bad mom.
And once she became convinced that nursing just wasn't in the cards for her this time, she started pouring her baby's formula into the Medelea bottles, just in case other moms saw her bottle feeding so they would assume she was giving her baby expressed breastmilk. That's how much she couldn't stand the thought of facing all that judgment. She didn't want to be on the receiving end of their side-eyes. And I can't blame her. I don't want her to be on that end either.
The whole situation broke my heart. Mostly because I know that she's right - that she IS going to be judged for the fact that she is formula feeding. And she is going to be judged by people who honestly have NO FREAKING IDEA what was going on with her and just how much she absolutely had no other choice in the matter. It isn't fair. It really isn't.
But it's everywhere, isn't it? The word "formula" can barely be typed on the internet without bursting into flames.
And I get it, I really do; nursing is important, breastmilk is unmatched in quality and fabulousness, breastfeeding is definitely ideal if it works out. I understand the need to educate women and to make them feel supported if they are able to breastfeed. But what I have a problem with is the dark side of all of this hurrah and fanfare. I have a problem with the fact that in our endeavor to bolster up the women who nurse, that we have thrown those who don't to the wolves.
Breastfeeding women seem to have taken a Spartan-like attitude about this entire subject and have cast all formula-feeding mothers off of the cliff - never to be thought of again. They've been rendered unfit, illadvised and deserving of both pity and scorn.
I just have such a problem with this attitude. I just have such an issue with turning our backs on each other because of one little subject: what our babies eat.
And the more I think about the situation the more I realize - hello - none of us have the right to judge anyone else. We really, really, really, really don't. We really don't.
I mean, duh, I know that this lesson gets taught to us when we're little: "Don't judge others." and we at least TRY to practice it as children but as we grow older we tend to dismiss the concept as just another song on Sesame Street that's good in theory but isn't practical in practice.
Only, it IS practical.
Since I became a mom, I've learned a whole lot about judgment and to be honest - i judge people WAY less now than I ever did before. Way Less.
The mom carrying a screaming child out of the bookstore? Before I was a mom, I might have said to my shopping companions, "Why can't she control her child??" Now? Now I want to rush to hold the door open for her, I want to buy her a javachip frappachino at the cafe and give her a pat on the back and say, "It's gonna be okay". At the very least I want to smile at her so she knows that I understand and that it's outside of her control. "Kids are kids." I want to say.
Parenting makes us do things we never thought we would. It makes us behave in ways we never could have imagined before.
I always said that when I became a mom I would never have a house overrun with toys and that I would always make sure I put on makeup and got dressed in nice outfits everyday; I wasn't going to get all "mommed out". *Snort*
Before kids, I thought I knew what tired was. I thought I was right to roll my eyes at the mother walking with two kids in the parking lot and snapping at a third to "just stop it already!!" at whatever he was doing. When kids would run around screaming their heads off and I saw their mother sitting on the couch just staring straight ahead and sipping her coffee, I thought to myself, "what is wrong with her? can't she control her kids?"
Now I know better. Now I understand that sometimes, coffee is a NEED and not a want. Now I know that a house full of toys is a blessing when you have to make dinner or brush the cat or vacuum the stairs. Now I know that when you tell a child to stop something fifty billion times that you are going to snap on that fifty-billion-and-first time and that maybe that tone in your voice when you do snap might actually get the kid to stop.
Now I know that the rarer day is the one where I am able to get dressed and put on makeup.
I know all of these things now because I am a mom. And I don't judge other moms for any of these things either. Because I know what life is like on this side of the coin.
So why do we as moms feel that it's okay to judge other moms for what they feed their children?
Is formula feeding the choice that you would make as an individual who nurses? No. Probably not. But does that mean that you get to hurl insults and disdain towards the women who are in that situation?
No. Definitely not.
Also, realize this: maybe those women didn't make that CHOICE either - maybe, as in the case of my friend, it got made for them and they wish that something different had happened too.
There are dozens of maybes, dozens of real life situations that could step in and prevent someone from being able to nurse! Dozens of things that we don't think of when we stand by and gasp in horror at the sight of a can of formula. Here are a few:
Maybe they have breastcancer, maybe they have breast disease, maybe they are on medication that keeps them alive and well and therefore they cannot nurse their babies. Maybe they SMOKE - ever thought of that one? I'd rather a baby eat formula than nurse from a smoking momma's tap.
There are just so many maybes out there and SO MANY of them are valid that it's just not worth the time and effort it takes to bury these poor women who ultimately just want to be the best mothers they can to their children.
'Cause at the end of the day - THAT is the thing we all have in common. No matter what we feed them, we all just want our kids to be fed. No matter what we're wearing, what we're saying, what we're doing, we all just want our kids to be loved and healthy. We all just want to be good mommies. And THAT is the most important thing of all.
Let's stand together and promote good motherhood. Let's unite with each other as women who want to take care of our children. Let's support education and abolish sexism and all of the other obstacles that stand in the way of females everywhere but let's not contribute to the plight against one another. Let's not hurt one another or hurl insults at each other. We as women who are doing the best we can deserve to be raised up and encouraged, not trampled down for the choices that we have made or that have been made for us.
Work together to support loving, caring motherhood. Because being a good and loving and kind mother is FAR more important than what gets put into their sippy cup. It really is. I swear.