Thursday, November 11, 2010

Letting Yourself off the Hook

Please remember that what follows are my thoughts and feelings and not a judgement on anyone else's life choices. I am certainly not so arrogant to believe that my opinions are the only correct ones. Also, I apologize for how disjointed this post is, but my thoughts aren't coming in a readable order!

My friend Simple Peace Mama is struggling and her post on the compromises she has been making when it comes to her child was heartfelt and pure. However, I was shocked at the comments she received telling her that it was OK to compromise and that her baby would be fine if she decided to give him grains, let him cry it out, use disposable diapers and the like.

Perhaps these well-meaning commenter's sought only to ease my friends suffering and allow her to feel OK about making changes and that it totally fine with me, but it doesn't seem helpful to me to let someone off the hook as it were for making a choice they know to be wrong. Simple Peace Mama is very clear on what she believes to be the right way of doing things, but she is struggling. How about telling her that she can do it, help her find the strength to do the right thing?!??!?!?

Who decides that a baby is OK with something? I once had a friend who smoked all through her pregnancy and when she became pregnant again, I asked her if she planned on quiting smoking. She said that since her first baby was totally fine, she didn't really believe that smoking was damaging. Here is the thing, her child was born with all the right parts in all the right places. No two heads or anything, but she developed asthma when she was about 4 and had ear infections almost constantly as a baby. Now, I don't know if there is a correlation between those illnesses and her mother's smoking during pregnancy, but it sure seems like there is one to me!

My point is this, we have huge numbers of ADHD in our children in this country and almost every child I know has some kind of allergy to food or something else. We have children that are bullies and children that get bullied. We have kids taking guns into their school and shooting up the place. These problems start somewhere!!!

We have a tendency to think of babies as something separate and not little humans with feelings, thoughts, and nerve endings. People say that it doesn't hurt a baby to cry it out - how would they determine that?? A baby left to cry it out doesn't grow two heads, so he or she must be fine with it?!?!?!?

People in this world have issues! Some of them are obvious like they were beaten as children and others are more subtle, like issues of self esteem. Low self worth comes from somewhere - did a person with low self esteem cry out for his or her mama as a baby and no one cared enough to come?? Does the woman who lets her boyfriend walk all over her not feel loved by her parents from birth??

So, instead of telling my friend that her baby will probably be fine if she goes against everything (or some things) that she feels strongly about is not helping her, not empowering her. I say, no! it is not OK to do something you are against. You are the adult and your child is totally dependent on you, so you have to suck it up and make the tough choices to do the very best you can.

It's time we as parents, as adults stopped thinking about all that other stuff, and focus only on what is best for our children. Babies don't come into our lives by their choice, it's by ours. We owe it to them to do the very best we can. That means different things to different people and it doesn't mean that you should be miserable and never compromise on anything, but it does mean that if something is important to you, like breastfeeding, you should move heaven and earth to make it happen. The compromise should be on something that is about you and not about the baby. For example, another friend and her husband had loads and loads saved for retirement when they had their baby. They decided that they didn't want to put the baby in daycare and made a conscious choice for her to stay home with the baby and use that retirement savings to pay for day to day needs. She will have to go back to work when the kids are grown. They know that they will be working well past 65 to build back their retirement, but the sacrifice was on their end and not on that of their children.

When my husband and I decided we wanted to have a baby we talked a lot about what kind of parents we wanted to be and what areas we differed in, such as him being a meat eater and me a vegetarian. We determined what we would not compromise on (breastfeeding) and what we would feel a little give on (cloth vs. disposable). I sat down with our finances and we worked to pay off debt and determined what we could live without in order to allow me to work part time.

We don't contribute to our IRA's anymore - the 401(k) through work yes, but not the IRA's. We don't eat out anymore, we cut the Internet service down to the lowest speed plan. We purchased our home with it in mind that we needed to be able to afford the payments on one and a half incomes. We don't have a lot of stuff and it is going to take me a while to save for the camera I'm lusting after, but we get to be parents and that is better than anything else in the world.

Someone once said that we are never able to be in reality the parents we dreamed of being, but I am (so far) and I am proud of that. I wanted to do spend the first year of my daughters life a certain way and I am doing that - but I believe that I had realistic expectations and the things that I have given up are so worth it to me.

My husband hates working until 7pm every night and I hate getting up at 4 every morning, but those sacrifices allow us to connect with our baby and really be there for her in every way. We are sacrificing our needs not hers and that's the difference.

Bottom line - You can do this Simple Peace Mama!! You can make the tough choices, you can do the best for your child, you can take a hard look at what is not working in your life and see clearly where the changes need to be made. I have faith in you and your love for your child. I empower you. I send you love and strength. Follow your heart and don't let anyone let you off the hook!!