Listen Women, Listen…..

I have always found myself to be accepting of people’s choices when it comes to parenting. I believe in allowing parents to make the choices about what they feel is best for their children as long as it is outside of the realm of what is considered child abuse. What I have learned through this whole motherhood thing is that no matter how hard you try to be accepting of everyone and their differences – there is always some people out there who no matter what will try to CRAM their personal preferences down your polite throat. I’ve honestly had enough…..I’m ticked off and I don’t get ticked off easily – I’m a pretty laid back person – but I’m also a sensitive person.

When I was pregnant with Jacob I researched a variety of parenting styles, a variety of ways to do things, and also did a lot of research to find the philosophies that best aligned with my hopes, morals, and desires as a parent. Since I became a parent I have sat quietly and listened to other people explain themselves bout their choices in regards to their children – and even though I’ve wondered why they feel the need to tell me this I still listen politely and ask questions. My job as a child and youth counselor has taught me about the importance of listening – so when someone is speaking about something that is important I listen. I don’t debate with people when their preferences clash with my ideas nor do I tell them that they are wrong about the choices they make – I open my mind and I listen – end of story.

When it came time to vaccinate my child I did my research, talked to people on both sides of the spectrum and made the decision – my son is vaccinated. When it came to sleeping arrangements I researched co-sleeping, tried it for a while, felt it failed miserably for us and we moved on…but I spoke to people who have been doing it for years and to people who had never done it to get my information – and the most important thing I did was LISTEN to their experiences before I made my decision – my son currently sleeps in his crib, in his own room. I could go on and on and on about the decisions we make in regards to our children – to breastfeed or not to breast feed, home made baby food vs jarred baby food, baby wearing vs not even knowing what that means – attachment parenting vs traditional parenting – it’s all out there and there are a kazillion people standing by to tell why one is right over the other.

I have learned that I will never fit in with the people that chose to CRAM THEIR PERFECT PARENTING down my throat – I have listened, I have heard your debates and I still made different choices then you? Why can’t that be enough? Why can’t you accept that I’m not YOU and that I’ve made choices for my child that are not the same as you – and that he is healthy and thriving and a good well behaved baby. When are we as women going to come together and accept that we are all going through the same things and that chosing one thing over the other does not make you a better parent over another person. I’m so pissed off that I could barf about this – why can’t we make everyone welcome?

I guess I should talk about why this frustration is happening for me at this moment. Today I was at the community center with about 20 other moms and a mother was there from the SIDS organization speaking about safe sleeping. This mother had a 4 month old with her but had recently about 1.5 years ago lost a son at 4 months old to SIDS. It was obvious this pain was raw for her….it became more apparent that this pain was so raw for her when people started pushing her about their sleep preferences – the woman was only there to say what the recommendations were from the government. People were lecturing her on why their child sleeps on their tummy, why they have a bumper pad, why they let thier daughter use a blanket and why they co-sleep….one woman attacked this lady pretty badly about the co-sleeping. Hello? Did you not here that the woman lost a child to SIDS? You want to lecture her about the benefits of co-sleeping? I was so upset I wanted to scream. I wanted to get up and leave. I felt horrible for that woman…why? WHY? WHY?

Why did that woman feel the need to go into this with a woman who’s pain was raw, who’s message was only to do what you can to keep your baby safe. A woman who just wanted people to not have to go through the pain and heartache that she experienced…..and all she said was that a baby should have their own “sleeping environment”…WHY? She wasn’ t saying people were horrible for co-sleeping, she wasn’t saying don’t do it – she was just sharing the recommendations that come from the government…but yet? Someone needed to comment…to ram their own personal thoughts down someone else’s throat at a time that was so wrong. I felt bad for that lady – everyone in the room looked uncomfortable.

The bottom line is this…there are people who co-sleep, people (like me) who let their children sleep on their tummies, people who have their children in their own cribs from the time they are born – but that timing was inappropriate.

I’m so overwhelmed by what happened today that I’m not even getting my thoughts out clearly. My hope is that the women would start listening to each other and accepting that works for Jane might not work for Betty….that what fits with the hopes and desires of Jessica doesn’t necessarily fit with the hopes and desires of Rachel…and sometimes the bottom line is…the people get sick of hearing it.

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