He still looks the same when he sleeps. I love that. Although it’s so difficult for me to look at him now and see the once tiny baby I held in my arms. I look at him now and see … Continue reading
I was originally going to write about my love/hate relationship with attachment parenting but decided that if I was going to do that, I should probably know what parenting style I actually use. Turns out, there are apparently 5 “parenting styles” that are floating around out there right now.
**DISCLAIMER: This is my sarcasm font.**
Parents “go with their gut” or are influenced by their own upbringing. More likely to teach what they know and parent the way they were raised. (In other words, they are copy cats. They mimic the behavior of their own parents and decided to give it a name. Not original.)
Strive to promptly respond to their child’s needs and be sensitive and emotionally available for their child at all times. They often believe in natural childbirth, a family bed, avoidance of corporal punishment, homeschooling, and may be part of the anti-vaccination movement. (In other words, hippies. May smell like incense, patchouli, and borax from homemade laundry detergent. Also known as the “crunchy” parent.)
They hover. They smother. They cover. (In other words, they like their children like they like their Waffle House hash browns: smothered, covered, and… well… okay. Maybe not scattered. You can usually pick this parent out by the brown discoloration on the end of their nose…)
Typically establish rules and guidelines and expect their children to follow them. However, not quite to the point of “what I say goes” or “because I said so.” They are still nurturing, forgiving, and responsive. They are assertive but not restrictive and aim to support rather than punish. (In other words, they are not liberals. They aren’t conservative either. They can vote either side at any point in the game. It just depends on which party is presenting the best hand.)
Indulgent. They have very few demands of their children because they have low expectations of maturity and self-control. Lenient. They try to be more of a friend than a parent and don’t like confrontation. (In other words, they are the ones who let their children run around like wild animals and sit back and shrug their shoulders while saying “Kids, eh?” Or flat out ignore the behavior while they tap away at Angry Birds on their phones. *I don’t actually have a clue how you play that game…*)
Clueless Parenting (I came up with this one… last second)
The expectant parent. I mean the “I-just-found-out-I’m-having-a-baby-and-I-have-no-clue-where-to-start-so-I-guess-I’ll-Google-everything-and-ask-everyone-I-know” parent. Like baby ain’t here yet and they don’t know WTF a “birth plan” or “mucous plug” is. They are brand.spanking.new. (Note: no sarcasm there!)
So after reading about each one of these, I have decided that I don’t fit a specific one. I have tried out 4 out of the 5 (Or 5 out of 6… I can’t bring myself to be the parent who is more of a friend than a parent) and not a single one worked for me.
I started off as a clueless parent. I knew what a baby was, how they were made, and that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for a baby. So, I did what a lot of expecting moms do: I went online. I hit up Google and the message boards over at The Bump. I asked my friends on Facebook. I learned all I could. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to give natural birth a shot.
And so began my love/hate relationship with attachment parenting. I LOVED it… for the first 6ish months. I breastfed, co-slept, did baby wearing, baby led weaning, tried making my own cloth diapers, used all natural lotions, soaps, and creams… and then I started to feel like Waffle House hash browns. Smothered, covered, and definitely scattered. My son slept through the night from the time he was a month and a half right up until 4ish months. Then I hit the “4 month wakeful period.” That lasted until he was about 7 months.
But at 6 months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t get him to sleep until 11 and I had to nurse him to sleep and try verrrrryyyyy carefully to get up without waking him so I could attempt to clean because, you know, I spent my entire day with him ATTACHED to me and couldn’t get much done. Then I’d crawl into bed. He’d wake up at 1:30, nurse back to sleep, up again at 4:30, nurse back to sleep, up again at 6:30-7, nurse again, and sleep (restlessly) until about 9.
I decided to move him to his crib because I wasn’t sleeping well AT ALL. Every time he moved, I woke. Every time he woke, I woke and HAD to nurse him to get him back to sleep. Plus, he had a tough time staying asleep because every time I moved, it would wake him up. So into his own bed he went. The first night was tough, but I stayed by his side until he fell asleep. The next time he woke, he barely cried and fell asleep easily. I slept in his room that night and stayed right next to his crib until he was sound asleep each time he woke. The second night was SO much easier. Eventually, we got to the point where he was back to sleeping through the night (from about 7:30 until 7:30 or 8!) and he no longer WANTED to be in my bed. He loved having his own space!
When he began walking, I became a helicopter parent. That was short lived. I’ve never been a fan of hovering, so I taught him to “brush it off” and move on. He’s excellent at it now and barely even bats an eye when he takes a tumble, unless he’s seeking attention. Speaking of that, let’s talk about the “terrible twos” for a moment.
He hit that phase and I went into authoritative overdrive. I set rules. I set boundaries. I used timeout. I was firm, but loving. I wanted him to recognize that there are rules for a reason and that they should be followed. I wanted him to learn to respect his elders and use his manners but I also wanted him to know that I would always be there for him and support him and love him.
This also led to my encounter with instinctive parenting. However, there is a difference in how I approached that one. Most parents that use this method do the same things their own parents did. In my case, I took a lot of the things my parents did and used them as guidelines for what I don’t want to do. Now don’t get me wrong – I am NOT saying that I think my parents did a terrible job or I that I didn’t learn any positive parenting techniques from them. I love both of my parents to the moon and back, but that doesn’t mean I agree 100% with their parenting styles.
Anyway, all of this led me to where I am right now with parenting.
I’m going to call it I-don’t-give-a-shit Parenting. And no, that’s not because I don’t give a shit about my kids. It’s because I don’t give a shit about what kind of “parenting style” I fall under. I use a little bit of all the above. Some days I’m more of an attachment parenting person than authoritative. Sometimes I still play helicopter mom. Sometimes I find myself doing things the same way or the polar opposite of how my parents did it.
Our society today has seriously screwed up views of parenting. Actually, PARENTS today have a seriously screwed up view of parenting! I see many parents who think they have to fall under only one of those categories and then they feel as though they have to follow it to a “T” when in reality, they don’t have to. No one out there has said, “If you’re going to do attachment parenting, you have to be all in or else you FAIL or you’re not REALLY doing it!”
The other thing I see is parents using their parenting style as a way to compete with other parents. This REALLY irks my nerves. Grinds my gears. It pisses me off.
“You started solids at __ months old?! Oh no, we’re waiting until the exact second baby turns 6 months old because that’s the recommendation.”
“So you’re kid just hit mine and all you’re going to do is hold them while they cry about how they hurt their hand? You can’t be serious right now…”
“Oh my gosh! Your son just tried to jump off the top of the slide! Thank goodness I just happened to be right there, watching my child’s every move, and was able to catch him for you!”
“I would NEVER let my child say/do something like that!”
“I can’t believe you are just letting her cry! How cruel! I could never do that to my baby.”
You get the point and I’m sure y’all can come up with more on your own.
The thing is, not a single one of these people ever stops and takes into consideration WHY those parents are doing things the way they are.
The parent that started their baby on solids at 4.5 months? Their doctor told them to. Why? Who cares. It’s not your child and none of your business. You want to wait until your baby is 6 months? Fine. It doesn’t make you a better parent, by ANY means.
Maybe the kid that hit your kid isn’t a bully. Maybe the reason they hit your child and are now crying is because they have autism and are having a melt down moment. You going over there and getting in mom’s face isn’t going to help. Try explaining to your kid that sometimes people don’t apologize for hurting people and that it’s best to just forgive anyway and move on (might help in the long run with relationships).
That woman who’s son tried to jump off the slide? She wasn’t being inattentive. She has learned that he’s a daredevil and can totally hold his own when it comes to doing something daring. And your child, who you are smothering with your hovering, has been watching her kid and LONGING to show off their jumping skills too.
The person who’s kid said/did something you would never allow? Maybe they are going through a divorce or some other hardship. I’m not defending rudeness or disrespect, but what I am doing is pointing out that there are situations that can have a major impact on children and cause them to act out more than normal. And if mom/dad is stressed about something, they may not have a whole lot of energy for dealing with poor behavior. A pat on the back could make their day.
The mother who is “just letting her cry” has already tried everything she can think of to calm her baby/toddler and is removing herself from the situation before she ends up ripping her hair out. Again, another situation where a pat on the back could make all the difference to her.
I guess the point of this whole post is this:
Figure out what works for you. Maybe you like some of the ideas behind “attachment parenting” but want to be more authoritative in your approach to discipline. Maybe you’re a chronic helicopter mom and want to be more laid back. Maybe you have been too permissive and want to transition into being more attached. Try it all out and stick with what works.
Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t follow one style completely. I have a friend who I’m pretty sure is convinced that attachment parenting is the ONLY way to go. If it works for her, more power to her. However, I have watched her feel like a failure from time to time simply because she didn’t do something exactly like most other attachment parenting moms have done.
Take other people’s reasons into consideration. You will encounter other parents with different parenting styles for the rest of your life. Just because they handle a situation in a different manner from you does not mean they are doing it the wrong way.
Don’t act as though your parenting style is superior. It may be to you, but that does NOT mean it will work for everyone else! This is the second part to taking other people into consideration.
Be kind to one another. You may not agree with their methods or views, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind to them. Besides, it sets a good example for your children, right?
Stop giving a shit about what other people think. Seriously. Just stop. What good is it doing anyway? Are you going to let them be the one to decide how to raise your child or are you going to do that yourself?
…That’s what I thought.
Now before I have parents jumping all over my ass for the title of my post, let me just say that I AM NOT knocking formula feeding moms!
I’m here to debunk this bullshit.
So all you formula feeding moms out there, calm your jets and unwad your panties. And all you lactivists out there, unwad yours as well and open your mind.
Before I get started, I’d like to tell you folks a little story and give you some of my own history.
I am a breastfeeding mom. I consider myself to be a lactivist. I breastfed my son for one year and my daughter is still going strong at 16 months.
So you may be wondering now, “If she breastfeeds, why in the hell is she supporting formula?”
Well, because I am also a formula feeding mom.
That’s right. You heard me. I used formula.
When my son hit 8 months, I brought him in to the docs because I felt like he hadn’t been gaining very well and because I felt like my supply was lower than normal. According to WHO standards, breastfed babies (6-12 months of age) should gain about 1.75-2.75 ounces per week and grow 1/2 inch per month. At that visit, I found that he had gained 2 ounces and grown 1/4 inch… over the course of a month. He had gained a quarter of what he should have over the course of a month.
Considering he was eating solids 2-3 times per day and nursing about 6 times a day at this point, he should have gained more than just 2 ounces.
For those of you lactivists out there who are probably rattling of the numerous methods I could have used to boost my supply, you can stop now. I know about the majority of those methods and gave several a try when I began seeing signs of my supply dropping. Pumping. Skin to skin. Herbs. Cookies. Teas. Beer…
At this point in MY life, I was dealing with a lot of stress in my relationship with his father and battling postpartum depression (PPD) as well. My stress and anxiety levels were through the roof and now I had to add my son’s weight gain and my supply to that list. If you didn’t already know this, stress can have a negative effect on your supply.
So I made the choice to supplement with formula. I continued breastfeeding – we just added in a few bottles of formula each day. Man! What a difference it made! My son gained a pound over the course of a month and continued with his healthy weight gain up until a year. But it didn’t only make a difference for him – it changed things for me as well.
I no longer had to dread feeding time and worry about whether or not I was making enough milk and I no longer had to wonder “is he getting enough?” My stress level decreased significantly and I felt better equipped to take on the monster called PPD. By the time he was 10 months old, I was able to stop taking my antidepressants, I felt the happiest I had in months, and I was enjoying my little boy more than ever and FINALLY enjoying nursing him!
Formula changed our lives and saved my sanity.
So now that you know my history with formula, let me continue on with the rest of this post.
When my son was about 20 months or so, I got pregnant again. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to breastfeed again. I was armed with more knowledge than I had with my son and in a much healthier and happier relationship. By this point, I had helped many other women battle their breastfeeding struggles and learned from there experiences as well. I had also researched the benefits of breast milk versus formula and, thanks to the pro-breastfeeding pages I have “Liked” on Facebook, been bombarded with information on how BAD formula was for baby.
Let’s just get this straight: formula is not “bad” for your baby. Pretty much everyone knows breast milk is the best thing for your baby. It contains all kinds of things that cannot be replicated in formula, the composition changes as your baby’s needs change and throughout the day, it lowers the risks of many illnesses and diseases, and it raises IQ levels. There is no denying that “breast is best.”
But formula is not bad.
Formula has come a hell of a long way since it first started being used. Hell, I know people who fed their babies Karo and condensed milk for crying out loud (their babies were born in the 1950s). You can now buy organic, soy based, made for sensitive tummies, cow’s milk based, goat’s milk based, hydrolysed protein formula, etc. They now add essential vitamins, minerals, and things like DHA, ARA, and even Lutein (which IS found is breast milk).
If you ask me, that doesn’t sound like it’s bad at all. Is it ideal? Maybe not. But it most certainly is not BAD.
With that being said, many breastfeeding mothers encounter issues at some point in their breastfeeding relationship. Sometimes these are minor issues that can be corrected with a simple adjustment and other times these issues require a lot of time and effort. I recommend speaking with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) any time you feel you are hitting a brick wall. They can encourage you and give you plenty of helpful tips.
If any of you are like me and run into an issue and someone says the word “formula,” it’s like someone walked up and deflated all of the air out of your balloon.
For whatever reason, formula is seen as “failure” or “defeat” within the breastfeeding community. There have been times that I’ve told people I supplemented formula with my son and instantly got a look that said, “Oooohhh… You’re one of those people. You’re not a true breastfeeder!” Nose in the air included.
Each time I see that look, I want to grab them by their stupid shoulders, smack them across the face, and shake them as hard as I can while I scream, “I AM A BREASTFEEDER!!! I made it one whole year. I did everything I could think of to regain my supply! I spent all night pumping, hours doing skin to skin, I stuffed my face full of cookies, dammit! I sacrificed MY happiness, sanity, and health. How DARE you look at me that way, as if I am less of a mother than you because I supplemented with formula!”
I want to pause there because I realize NOW that there is a very important statement made in that.
“I sacrificed MY happiness, sanity, and health.”
Each and every single one of us parents understand sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, sleep, schedules, hobbies, money, etc. All so our children will be happy. And if you’re a parent, you understand that those sacrifices are worth it in the end.
However, some things should not be considered “sacrifices” when it comes to our kids: happiness, sanity, and health.
I’m sure some of you read this one and thought something like, “Oh how selfish of her!” and you know what? You are absolutely right. It is selfish, but it’s also necessary. If you aren’t happy, how on earth do you expect to be able to make someone else happy?! I don’t know about y’all, but in my house, if Momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy! Okay… not really. But if I’m in a crabby mood or feeling overworked, under appreciated, sad, angry, or anything other than happy, I’m much more likely to lose my temper when it comes to my kids. I’m also more likely to yell. I also have less patience for playing games like peek-a-boo, teaching them how to do something new, or answering a thousand questions in a row.
When my supply dropped, my happiness went with it. I became so stressed that it was all I could think about. I spent all my time worrying about how much I was producing. I spent hours online reading articles about low supply, how to boost it, how much weight gain was normal, how often he should be nursing, how often he should be eating solids… you get the point. I didn’t want to leave my house because he was easily distracted when nursing in public. And this all leads to my next point…
As I mentioned before, I was diagnosed with PPD after having my son. I struggled with it for months at first and finally came to terms with it when he was around 5 months old. I went to my doctor and spoke with her about how I had been feeling and we decided I would begin taking Prozac. It was like someone turned on a light, after the initial adjustment period. I wasn’t exactly happier, per se, I just felt… better. It was easier for me to recognize the things that were minor and somewhat easier for me to handle the things that were major. At least I felt much calmer than I had before.
Encountering low supply was really difficult for me. I was just starting to feel as though I had a good handle on the whole parenting thing and then my supply dropped and it was like someone came and tore down the walls holding in all of my anxiety. Everything crashed down and I was more stressed than I had been before. I spent a lot of time focusing on the issue of my supply. I didn’t want to talk to my friends, didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to do anything except hide somewhere until my supply went back to normal. I had trouble sleeping, trouble waking up, I ate too much, and just felt flat out bad.
So I’m sure by now you are getting a pretty good idea of just how much these three things go hand in hand. Because I was unhappy and stressed, my health began to suffer. I began gaining weight, felt sleepy all the time, and started getting sick more frequently. If you aren’t already aware, let me tell you right now: your health is important!!! As a parent, it’s your responsibility to set a good example when it comes to health and wellness. How can you do that if you’re over eating/skipping meals or constantly wearing yourself so thin that you get sick often? Besides that, how do you expect to keep up with your kid(s) when you are like that?
It’s just a downward spiral – or at least it was for me.
I am a firm believer of making sure you take good care of yourself. Yes it is our responsibility to take care of our children and do whatever it takes to ensure they are happy and healthy, but it’s also our responsibility to take care of ourselves.
One of the many things I have seen over and over again from parents is that we are all too hard on ourselves. We live busy lives, place unreasonable expectations on each other, hold ourselves to extreme standards, and because of all this, we have a tendency to get wrapped up in the little things. So much so that we miss the big picture.
Many of us lose sight of the big picture right off the bat. We come up with “birthing plans,” decide to breastfeed or use formula, organic foods or not, homegrown veggies or store bought, green, clean, perfect, pristine… we plan everything down to the moment they become adults with their own lives.
When something comes along and throws a kink in our plan, we freak. We don’t know how to handle it because it isn’t what we had “planned.” So when things don’t follow these “plans,” some of us feel like we have failed.
We compare ourselves to other parents who’s plans are still on track. We wonder, “How do they do it? They make it look so easy.” Or, “What did I do wrong? Why am I having such a hard time with my supply? I don’t want to stop breastfeeding!” I have seen moms struggle with these thoughts time and time again. Only thing is, they are so busy being concerned about their “failure” that they lose sight of the REAL issue at hand: feeding baby.
At some point, you have to stop focusing on those “goals” and “plans” you have made.
Just take them, ball them up, and throw them out the damn window.
Life is unpredictable. You can’t foresee every event. This is especially true when it comes to parenting!
We become so focused on OUR “goals” and “plans” (natural child birth, pain med free birth, home birth, being induced, not being induced, breastfeeding, pumping, blah, blah, blah) that we forget what our goal was back when we first got pregnant!
Unsure of what I’m talking about?
I’ll give you a hint:
“I just want him/her to be happy and healthy.“
THAT is the big picture!!!
So if you have ever been in a situation where you have had to supplement with formula or stop breastfeeding all together, don’t you ever feel as though you have “failed” as a parent. Kudos to you for keeping your focus on your child and their health and for taking care of yourself as well.
Breastfeeding CAN be difficult. It can present you with many challenges, but it can also be a lot easier than you expect. It is also one of the most rewarding things you can do for your child. But if you ever run into a situation where you have to supplement (short or long term) or even switch over all together, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are still doing the best you can for your baby.
And that makes you a wonderful parent.
To the lactivists out there: I understand how important it is to educate people on the benefits of breastfeeding. I do it all the time. But if you ever encounter a mom who is struggling with breastfeeding, don’t press the issue. Offer words of encouragement and if she asks for your help or advice, then help her. Give her the facts and allow her to do with them as she pleases. IF she chooses to use formula, for whatever reason, do not belittle her, shove statistics down her throat, or continue flood her with tips and information. Recognize that it is ultimately HER decision because it is HER baby. And also recognize that formula is NOT bad.
And formula does NOT equal failure.
School in general is somewhat of a touchy topic for me because I had a rough time with it. Not so much with the actual class portion of it all; more so with the kids. Kids are MEAN. They say mean things. They judge. They pick on other kids. Feelings get hurt. Blah blah blah. I wasn’t one of those kids that got picked on and then went and sulked in the corner though. No way. I’m too loud and too outgoing for that. Instead, I sucked it up and did my best to let things roll off my back. I discovered that I’m good at making it LOOK like things don’t bother me when in reality, I let things get to me far more easily than they should.
I’m a worrywart. I worry way too much about every little thing. I KNOW that my 3 year old is more than likely NOT going to be judged by the other 3 year olds if he has a little bit of syrup around his mouth, but it isn’t the 3 year olds I fear – it’s their moms. Moms (women in general, really) can be catty! There’s no other way to put it. And I’m not talking about ALL moms, but we all know there are catty moms out in the world. They judge your every little move:
“Her kid is wearing THAT?!”
Well, yes. My child IS wearing that. HE picked it out because I am teaching him to be an independent individual and he is learning how to make choices for himself.
“Is that jelly I see on his cheek? Gosh, doesn’t she wipe his face?”
Oh, that? Yeah. I guess it is. I let him wipe his own face (ya know, the whole “independent kid” thing) and then I wiped it when we got here. Kinda hard to get every last spot when they move around.
“Oh I would never send MY child to school in a stained shirt like that!”
Well…. it WAS clean – until he spilled chocolate milk on himself in the car. Whoops.
And I have one thing to say to all the judgmental, self-righteous moms out there: Take that holier-than-thou attitude and SHOVE IT.
The moms of the preschool world aren’t the only terrifying thing though. My kid was recently sent home with a progress report. Not one that says “This is how your kid is doing in math/reading/science,” but one that tells you how they are doing developmentally. Well, that makes me worry too.
When my son was about 18 months, he had several “red flags” for Autism. Anyone who has an autistic child or who has ever had some of those “red flags” come up knows how terrifying this can be. It can really make you question a lot of things. I decided to wait until his 2 year check up before making up my mind on whether I wanted him to see a specialist or not and I’m glad I did. He had zero “red flags” at that appointment and his doctor wasn’t the least bit concerned.
After working with a therapist, we determined that the reason for a lot of those “red flags” was mostly due to the fact that his biological father and I were going through a divorce around that time. Moral of that story is “Do your absolute best to never yell/argue in front of your children.”
With that being said, I still worry when it comes to my son’s development. I worry that he still isn’t caught up with the other kids his age. So when his progress report came home and there were a few things marked as “working on,” I immediately began wondering “Am I doing everything right? How much of this stuff should he REALLY be doing at this age? Do ALL kids do these things? What can I do to get him doing this?”
I’m sorry, but I think that all the growth charts and percentiles and milestones that doctors have put in place for our children are just plain stupid. I feel like many parents (and some doctors even) use these milestones as deadlines when really they are more like estimates. Your kid didn’t start crawling at 6 months? Okay. Neither did mine. They weren’t sitting at 5 months like Betty-Lou’s daughter down the street? Who gives a flip?! My son sat at 6 months and my daughter at 6 and a half months. Not walking by the time they turn one? Don’t pressure them. My son started at 11 months, a friend’s daughter started at 10 months, another friend’s daughter started at 8 months, and my daughter is now 13 months and she doesn’t even stand alone for more than a few seconds at a time. Every child is different.
Same thing with the growth charts. My son is 3 and a half and weighs 29 lbs. I worried that he was underweight because I know a lot of kids his age who weigh over 30 lbs. Well, we went to his doctor for a check up and turns out that he is perfect! Not underweight at all. He’s just a string bean. His pediatrician said that for his height to weight ratio, he is right where he should be. She also said that with him being as active as he is, he’s probably always going to be on the skinny side.
Then you have my daughter: 13 months and only 17 lbs 7 oz. She is a petite little thing. But she was 5 lbs 10 oz when she was born – she’s always been small. Her doctor wanted me to put her on formula at 9 months because she wasn’t “gaining enough weight” and was in the “zero percentile” for weight. I asked her doctor to look at her height and tell me how much she had grown – she gained several inches and was sitting at the 33 percentile mark for height. So while she didn’t “gain” any weight, she did continue to grow. Plus, she had started crawling 2 months earlier and was shedding baby fat because of it. Once I pointed those things out, her pediatrician’s whole tone changed to “Oh! Well in that case, she’s fine.”
I don’t like worrying, but I’m a mom. It’s kind of my job to worry about every little thing.
But I really wish our society didn’t try so damn hard to give us things to worry about!
C’mon world… help out the moms.
Make our lives just a LITTLE less crazy.