You’re whisked away in a gurney, your husband is holding your hand telling you to breathe, there are lights in the ceiling and something – or should I say someone - is pressuring you from the inside with what seems the force of a horse demanding to get out.
Your gyno is smiling and making jokes about Salvador Dali of all things – which you later understand is because of the baby’s hair sticking out from your wooha resembling his mustache – all the while telling you to push.
You close your eyes, ground your teeth and turn blue trying to push that baby out when you feel this amazing sensation of something ripping out of you and then there she is, screaming her lungs out.
Sound familiar? Has that happened to you too? In other words, are you a parent?
If so then you know. You know the amazing gift your child has given you. He or she has given you the gift of this deep, unconditional, amazing feeling, the gift of being able to love with the power of megatons. Your child has made you a better human being just by being born. How amazing is that?
You can stand anything for your kid. You can stand sleepless nights for years, toxic diapers and grueling teething pains, sore nipples and tiredness, so much tiredness. You vow to protect, cherish and love them to pieces. You stand between them and all that’s bad. And you are grateful. You are grateful they exist, you are grateful they are healthy, you are grateful you’ve kept them alive during your first night together, you are grateful for the help everyone is giving you.
You are sleep deprived, tired, sore, more stressed out that you’ve ever been – and I am not only referring to the psychological aspect if you catch my drift – and you have decisions to make. Is that diaper good for her, should I pump more often to increase my supply, can I put pepper on my food, should I sleep or stay up and look at her breathing? Is the car seat we spent 5 months researching for the safest one? Is the mattress (on which she never slept anyway) good for her bones? Why isn’t she gaining weight? Why is her poop blue?
So many questions, so much stress and not much anyone can do to help you put your mind at ease. You are a parent, worrying comes with the territory.
You know what shouldn’t come with being a parent? Criticism! That’s what! Suddenly it seems that everyone has an opinion on how to raise your kid. Nothing wrong with that, everyone CAN have an opinion. What they can’t have is the right to criticize you if you don’t agree with that opinion!
If you are breastfeeding you are considered a hippie, your breasts will soon hit your knees as you walk (nice visual huh?), you have mommy issues, you are a freak.
If you are not breastfeeding you are going against nature wishes, you are feeding your kid poison, you have mommy issues, you are a freak.
If you are co-sleeping you are certainly a hippie and since you most likely breastfeed while co-sleeping, there is nothing that will keep your breasts from hitting the floor. Oh and you are a freak.
If you are not co-sleeping you have abandoned your kid, your kid is going to have mommy issues, you are a freak.
Do I need to talk about baby wearing, strollers, pacifiers, when to start weaning, social media exposure, gay or straight or god forbid veganism, tattoos and vaccines? No, I don’t think I need to go that far to get you to see the bigger picture here.
Being a parent is hard work. You need encouragement and help, not criticism and pointing fingers. Would you want someone to judge you for every decision you make for your kid? No! Then why do it to others?
Why do you stare when a mom is nursing her three year old kid? Why do you shake your head and think she’s disturbed just because you don’t agree with her? Why do you need to stop and stare and then gossip about it all over your social media just to feel self important when you see a struggling mom trying to get her kid up from the floor after throwing a tantrum? She’s not a bad mom you know. And I bet she’s no worse than your mom was. I even bet you threw tantrums when you were a kid! Think about that for a minute.
Why not help a parent for a change? You go all over your social media and judge the mom who’s left her crying/sleeping kid in her car to go to the shop for a minute. Why don’t you help her instead? Why don’t you offer to pick up what she needs so she’ll stay with her kid? It will take a minute of your time and she will never forget it. (Plus the kid will stay safe, which was her intention too, since she went out to get him/her diapers/formula/medicine, only she’s so sleep deprived she didn’t think twice about leaving the kid in the car). She will even pay it forward some day because that’s how kindness works. Instead, you waste hours of your life writing facebook posts about that mother and checking your phone every five seconds to see how many likes your post got from your other self-important quick to judge facebook friends, all the while your own kids go around the house, raising a ruckus demanding a second of your time.
Do you see my point?
Seriously, do you see it?
No one is perfect! We are all human. We make mistakes. We fall asleep while watching our kids, we give them a phone or let them watch TV for an hour just to get some peace of mind after working for 10 hours straight, we loose our shit and yell, we give them chocolate just to make them stop whining, we make compromises we said we'd never do. We make mistakes. But guess what? It's ok, our kids don't expect us to be superhuman. We can make mistakes, we should teach them all people make mistakes.
We belong to the biggest and better club of all. We belong to the parenthood club. And I know people that would give everything they own to get into that club. So you see how lucky we are?
Stop mommy shaming, stop parent shaming, stop judging and start helping, start loving. Empathy is the key word here, people!
Cause here’s the thing.
Love is what makes the world go round. You will NEVER convince me otherwise.
P.S.: This post has been months in the making. I wrote it within an hour but I have been accumulating the need to write it from the day Natalia was born. I was very lucky to have a woman in the bed next to mine who had just given birth to her second child, help me out with breastfeeding, caring and generally answering all my questions as a freaking-out-is-my-kid-going-to-survive-having-me-as-her-mom first time mom. She was never judgmental and she was nothing but sweet and helpful even when she didn’t agree with what I wanted to do. Do you know what that was? That was her welcoming me into the motherhood club with empathy and love. And this is me trying to pay it forward to other moms.