I AM Supermom

I never thought that my Facebook page would become a battlefield for the Mommy Wars. Over the last two days it’s really made me question whether it’s ‘only’ Facebook or if there’s more to all of this lack of understanding and respect.

It seems to have begun when a friend and fellow mother, recently posted, on her page:

 “I can’t believe they made breastfeeding until a child is 2 a law. I breastfed both of my babies but I feel once they can walk up and feed themselves off of it is a sign it’s time to quite. Gross.”

When I read this I didn’t respond. It was on her page, I didn’t feel it was directed towards me, and further I really didn’t want to get into it. This statement reeks of intolerance and ignorance, and while it certainly is an opinion it’s also a judgement. I am well aware of the misconceptions and lack of information that many have about breastfeeding and particularly extended breastfeeding, but I wouldn’t have expected this from this parent.

A few days later, someone posted ‘8 Things NOT to Say to an Extended Breastfeeding Mom‘ in our local breastfeeding FB group, and I knew I had to share it. It answered with humor and information the hurt and frustration I felt over breastfeeding being called ‘gross’.

I knew several people, fellow La Leche League mamas, members of my tribe of like-minded friends and family, would absolutely adore it. I didn’t think people, particularly mothers who breastfed their own children, would be so utterly offended by it.

That thread on my FB timeline literally exploded with so much ridiculousness when this particular mother wanted to defend her ‘opinion’ that breastfeeding was ‘gross’. Ummmmm, huh?

She repeatedly attempted to make the point that breastfeeding being ‘gross’ is her ‘opinion’ and that she’s able to say so because of ‘freedom of speech’.

And further she went on to say, on her own page, how I (or others on my page defending me perhaps) were:

“insecure in their decisions and lashing out”

There is no insecurity in my decision. There was no lashing out. There was only an unwillingness to accept that ‘gross’ is an valid ‘opinion’. “It’s not for me” that’s an opinion. “Gross” judges my choice as being something that is by definition unpleasant or replusive. And while I welcome a conversation or debate of ideas, I do not welcome insults.

But here’s the thing. And it’s been bothering me (and many others) for some time now.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT A BLANKET LICENSE TO SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE.

HONESTY DOES NOT EXCUSE RUDENESS.

OPINION IS NOT THE SAME AS JUDGEMENT.

Whew. Feels good to get that out there. Many people, particularly online, have this idea that whatever they say is shrouded in this fog of ‘Internet Honesty’. Really people? As if the text on the phone or computer screen insulates one’s words from inflicting hurt or injured feelings. Ummmmm, no. It doesn’t.

It seems every time people get upset about things written online the knee jerk reaction is “you can’t read tone online” or “it’s hard to understand intention in text”. Ummmmm, no, it’s not that hard. The context is there. While many people talk out of their necks online and don’t think before they type it doesn’t mean tone isn’t implied. I think people get caught up throwing tone because they are shrouded by their computer and feel they don’t have to be responsible for what they say. Ummmmm, nope. You’re still responsible whether you call someone a name to their face or to their online face.

Another case in point? See if you can taste the sarcasm dripping from this comment, in reference to me, in response to the same post about Extended Breastfeeding.

“Tired of hearing about your kids and your boobs, super mom. Yes, they can be too old to freaking tit feed. Done!”

Yes, that was said.  Really. Apparently being a Supermom is just a really sarcastic way of saying I’m what exactly? I’m full of myself and my awesome milk-makers? Too proud of how stunning my children are? Too sure the way I do things is the only right way?

You know at first I was super offended. I was pissed. And a further comment in that thread spoke to some sort of underlying animosity or anger towards the way I parent, or perhaps the sharing of that parenting with my people on Facebook.

“So then mothers should be waiting for their kids in the school cafeteria at lunchtime, tit ready? I’m not against breastfeeding. I did it, like a bazillion women before me I just didn’t need the world to constantly know to prove I’m a good mother.”

This hurt more than anything else. It felt like a direct hit, like somehow in posting about my life being a mother I am in search of validation for my choices. That my choice to breastfeed, was less about what’s best for my children and more about proving what good parent I am. Bitch, please.

Clearly neither of these people truly know me, nor I them, but these incidents really made me think. In fact these people did me a great service. They made me see that when it comes to how I want to conduct myself and who I want to know and be around, those that are judgmental, argumentative or hateful have no room in my world.

Let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody got time for rude people and haters.

See many of us, particularly Stay At Home Mom’s, rely on Facebook and social media, not for validation but for socialization. We look for commiseration and support. We share photos and videos with family and friends around the world. A lot of times we look for information and answers to questions, even our daily news through these social media outlets.

If that’s not how another goes about their daily life, that’s ok, that’s their life, their choice, their own relationship with the interwebs. But instead of insulting my online behavior just do everyone a favor. Unfriend me. Block me. Don’t follow my blog. Just go away.

And that’s where the Mommy Wars come back to rear it’s ugly head.

It seems that by posting pictures and anecdotes about my family and our life I irritate or offend some people (same goes for my single friends that bitch about seeing pictures of everyone’s kids…they can block me too). As if my posts reflect some unattainably high standards by which all mothers should be measured. As if because we have different ways of parenting or different ways of sharing our lives with others that one is inherently better than the other. The assumption being that one is superior for not sharing their life online. Or that I share about my parenting choices because I think they are the ‘right’ or ‘better’ choices.

HA! To know me is to know that I am an information junkie. I research the hell out of everything from TV shows to food to parenting. Yes, I think long and hard about how I parent and the choices we make for our family. In my opinion, the most important decisions I will make in my life are the choices about how I raise my children and so I do so very consciously and thoughtfully.

This doesn’t imply anything about others choices. I am friends with parents of all different kinds. Formula or breast, cry-it-out or co-sleep, strollers or woven wraps and everything in between. And you know what? I love them all. It’s not a contest. It is a journey. One that is unique to every individual family. I respect your choice because it is yours.

This doesn’t make me a saint. This doesn’t make me better. This is who I am because this is who I want my children to grow up to be. I don’t want to condemn your choices because I want my children to know that different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. I want my children to know that calling names when someone is different isn’t okay. It’s intolerance. And that being a part of this world means loving and being with those that we may not always agree with.

So while I may internally cringe if I see you putting Grape Pop inside your 3 month old’s bottle, I would never say anything to you. It’s not my place to do so. If you asked me about it, I would gladly have a conversation with you and share with you why that wouldn’t be my choice. But I will not call you gross. I will not insult you. I will save my judgment and respect you as a parent trying to do what’s best for yourself and your family.

So when I post something about breastfeeding or babywearing or gentle parenting it’s not to criticize your choices, it’s to offer information for someone else who may be struggling or looking for help. And often times it is as educational for me as it would be for anyone else.

I don’t need my choices justified. I can look at my amazing children and know that I’ve made the right choices. I share because maybe there’s an old friend from elementary school who can benefit from learning more about breastfeeding. Perhaps the wife of my husband’s friend didn’t know how many options there were in baby carriers until she saw something I posted. Maybe there’s a friend who just began staying at home with her kids and needs ideas of some activities or crafts to do with them.

From the numbers alone, those that ‘like’ my pictures, comment on my status updates and share my posts, I am doing something right. And for the countless comments and messages I’ve received from old friends, online friends, local mamas and those that live far away, thanking me for helping them through one parenting issue or another, I don’t regret a single post.

Because you know what? I AM Supermom. And you know what? So are YOU.

For doing what we do to make our families work and raise happy and healthy kids, however we choose to do that, we are ALL Supermoms.

So let’s stop passing judgment and start giving each other the compassion that we all, as mothers, deserve. We’re not on different teams. We just have different ways of playing the game. K?

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Here Comes Santa Claus

What a week. It’s been sad and trying to say the very least. Sad for any one with a heart. So incredibly unimaginably hard for the people of Newtown.

Despite this sadness the holiday season marches on. Cheerful Christmas tunes in every store. Lights twinkling in front yards. Rolls of wrapping paper being cut and taped into sweet surprises. It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Perhaps the best thing we can do to honor those sweet babies that lost their lives is to continue to live ours. To celebrate their youth and the significance their loss has had on our national discourse. Perhaps they will be more than just the most important people to their families. Perhaps they will become symbols of peace. Symbols of change. May they rest in peace.

Saturday, the day after such a devastating tragedy, was the annual Crafts with Santa program at our library. One of my Mom’s popular and wonderful kid’s programs of the year. Kids and their parents come to make a bunch of crafts then they can visit with Santa, take photos and each child gets a book. And it’s all FREE. Best. Program. Ever.

This year was certainly busy, but it had the highest volunteer rate of any Santa day yet. So much so that I didn’t have to ‘man’ a table. I was free to walk about and visit with old friends and take tons of pictures. It’s at once so relaxing because I can enjoy myself (as much as anyone with two children under 3 can enjoy themselves at a chaotic event). But it’s a bit sad to realize that my Mom can handle all these programs without me. Not because the library staff isn’t great (they are) but just because we put all these things together ourselves for so many years, and she doesn’t need me anymore. :(

After crafts came the real magic. Santa time.

Being VIPs of the library means that we got to answer the staff door when Santa came a knocking. And this Santa? He’s brilliant. A real snowy white beard and the long white hair to match. And he has the most kind and twinkling eyes. So mischievous and yet sweet.

Cedella got a chance to say hi and shake hands and talk to him for a while before she had to get her Christmas dress on and before Santa had to make his entrance. The perks of being a library brat, right?

I get to play elf to Santa for the afternoon with my friend and old co-worker Mary. And yes, I say lines from Elf in my head the entire time.

It feels great to watch all the different children come and sit (or scream) on Santa’s lap. Listening to what they want for Christmas is hilarious and oh so sweet. And our Santa’s response is always so kind and yet doesn’t put the parents on the hooks for things they don’t have the inclination or the funds to buy.

Our Santa never brings live animals “because they don’t fly so well on the sleigh”. And expensive electronic items “are very popular so they may not make it, but may I bring you some surprises instead?” What kid says ‘no’ to surprises from Santa? Not a one.

When at last all the kiddies were done with their Santa lap-sitting it was our turn.

Time for Isora to finally meet the Man in Red.

It didn’t go so well…

And even though she got a chance to warm up to him before it can time to sit on his lap, Cedella wouldn’t sit with him. But she did stand next to him as long as I was holding her.

And then this happened…

Santa “And what would you like for Christmas young lady?”

Cedella: “Presents”

Santa “What kind of presents?”

Cedella “All of those…” pointing to the entire cart full of wrapped books for the library kids.

And with that Santa chuckled and Cedella got shy and our visit with Santa was over.

After a very welcomed trade with her little friend Avery, Cedella scored a Tinkerbell book. And sat right down in the middle of the library to read it. (That’s her proud librarian Grandma right behind her).

I couldn’t let their sweet dresses go to waste. So I snapped a few pictures of them with the library’s gorgeous tree. I love this one of them looking at each other…

And there’s my sweet angels with their whole lives ahead of them and so many Christmases to come ::deep breath::

And my sweet Izzie Boo.

Seeing these pictures and knowing that their are families that won’t be celebrating the holidays with their children, whether its from the senseless violence in Newtown, the devastation of the wars in Middle East or due to the tragedy of childhood cancers and illnesses. We will be lighting a candle and praying for peace every night for the rest of the year for them. It’s not much, I know. But it’s something.

Merry Christmas to you all and to all a good night.

 

Wordful Wednesday: The Doctor is In

Part of our attempts at Preschool at Home is to work on some imaginative play and following Cedella’s interests.

Well lately? She’s been interested in all things ‘Doctor’ related. Every time we go to Anna’s house to play she finds the Doctor set and drags it around the house.

Somewhere in our house she found a stethoscope and worn it around her neck all day. So I gathered some bits and pieces of Doctor gear around our house and I built her a little kit and set up a Doctor’s appointment for her Baby Doll. And yes, this doll is called Baby Doll.

I set up all her Doctor gear: glasses, stethoscope, thermometer and script pad. And her new computer. Because, as she reminded me, all Doctors have computers. Which is so very very true.

But really, she just wanted to include her computer in this game. This computer is the coolest thing she’s ever seen. And she tap tap taps away, just like her Mom. She may have officially gone over to the Tech Side of things. Thanks Grandma Becky!

When Baby Doll was ready she listened to her heart.

And took her blood pressure. Which she insisted that she was different even though she did the same thing.

And then she had to type everything into her computer.

When she was done taking her notes she wrote Baby Doll a prescription for a nap. Seriously. She said Baby Doll needed to rest so she could feel better. Smart kid. Wish she would follow her own advice sometimes.

It was so much fun to watch her imagine her way through this ‘appointment’. She created problems and talked through them. When she was playing with the computer she kept telling me to stop taking pictures so she could ‘do work’. I love that she wants to ‘do work’. And when she finally prescribed Baby Doll some rest, Cedella gently tucked the doll into her own bed, kissed the dolly forehead and tell her everything would be alright.

So it was no surprise that a few days later when we visited her BFF Anna that once again the Doctor kit came out. Only this time? It was Princess Doctor. And it was FABULOUS.

Anna said she had a tummy ache, so Doctor Cedella listened to her stomach to hear what was wrong.

Then she gave Anna a shot to make her feel better.

I think they both enjoyed it, huh?

Have you ever stopped to just watch your kids play? I say that because I never really had. Not without interfering in some way. But when she was playing Doctor by herself, Izzie was sleeping and I just sat back and took an occasional picture and watched her.

Slowing down for a moment and just really watching her imagine and play was pretty incredible.

Everything is so new and fresh and unique to her. Seeing things for the first time through her eyes is amazing.

To us grown-ups playing Doctor means to do simple tasks like checking your heart, giving shots or typing notes on a computer. (*Or something dirty. But please, we’re talking about little kids here. Let’s keep our minds out of the gutter.)

But for her it meant more than that. It meant taking care of Baby Doll, and making sure Baby Doll knew everything was ok.

My girl has the most unbelievable sense of compassionate and empathy.

Whenever another child cries or gets hurt she becomes very quiet and focuses on  figuring out what went wrong and how she can help them. And while I will gladly take some credit for teaching her to care for others, her intense connection to making others feel better is all her own.

Maybe Monk will grow up to be a Doctor. Maybe she’ll be an Artist. Or even the President. That is not important to me. What I hope is that she will grow up to be a kind, smart, confident and compassionate person.

And I think she is already on that path.

How do you instill the values of compassion, kindness and caring in your children? How do you use imaginative play in your house?

Happy Wordless/Wordful Wednesday to you all!!