March 9, 2010

Some Lessons I have Learned

I'm a work in progress. I'm on a journey, and while I have come a long way, I still have a way to go. I am learning to never say never. You never know where life will take you, what your destiny will be.
Prior to meeting the love of my life and my husband, yes they are both the same person, I said I would never marry a man younger than me. I always thought I would eventually marry a man who was older than me. And I had recently proclaimed all, let me say this again, ALL Navy men were dogs. I vowed not to date a Navy man again. When Brandon and I met, we were three years apart in age. I know three years isn't that much, but when I was almost 23 and Brandon was only 19 that was a big difference. I was about to graduate from college and Brandon had kinda just graduated high school and he was in the Navy. We both fell madly in love pretty quickly and wanted to elope after two weeks. My point is, had I stuck to my guns and refused to "never" date a man younger than me and never to date another Sailor, I would have never given Brandon a chance. I had always dreamed of the Godly man my future husband would be. I imagined the amazing father he would be, like my own father. He would love me and our children unconditionally. Thank God I did get the Godly husband and outstanding father to my children. I learned that the man God had intended for me to marry had been Brandon and that being stubborn about my ideals was not godly.
Before we had children, I envisioned the type of mother I would be. I was going to breastfeed, be a stay at home mom, we would co-sleep, I would have my children in all kinds of activities and sports from day one. I even silently judged mothers who didn't breast feed, co-sleep or stay at home. I couldn't understand why a mother would choose not to breast feed. Why a family would push a baby away from them in their own room after they had grown inside a womb for 9 months and were used to closeness. Or why, if the chance was available, would a mother go back to work instead of care for her children. Boy did all of those ideals go out the window.
I wanted to stay home. I always had known that being a wife and a mother was the reason I had been placed on this earth. More than anything, I wanted to fulfill that dream. When I was pregnant with Miles, I dreamed of all the play dates we would have and the Mommy and Me swimming lessons. His time came, he was born. I was on maternity leave. I couldn't imagine going back to work. But then I soon realized that this cute little baby was driving me crazy. He cried all the time, he wouldn't sleep. It was not making me a good person. Soon, all I could think about was going back to work. Before you judge me, hear this. The lesson I learned is that you never, NEVER, know someone elses circumstances. As much as you think you might know, you never truly do. I went back to work because it made me a better mother to Miles and a better wife to Brandon. I did it because it was what was best for our family.
Now just a few short months later I felt an overwhelming calling to quit my job and stay at home. I obeyed and am glad I did. It seemed I needed those few months. During our adoption journey, I took on some jobs to help pay for our adoption. In our house, we believe that it is the husbands role to provide for the family. It is not every one's belief, but it is ours, it works for us. What may be right for our family, does not mean that it is right for all. I took a job because I believe that my role is to be my husbands help mate. The stress to pay for our adoption was a lot. It was not fair, in my opinion, to leave that solely on him. It made sense. So how can I judge families with working moms? How can I truly know all of their circumstances? How fair is it of me to think that I know what is best for them? Mothers go back to work for many many reasons and that is their families business. How can I know their circumstances or criticize them for it?
Breastfeeding is something I always thought was so beautiful. So natural. I thought I would be one of those mothers who nursed for! When Miles was born, I tried, oh I tried. I sought out the counsel of La Leche people, Nursing consultants, Nurses, Doctors. I was one of those women who couldn't breastfeed. It was devastating. Miles had jaundice and I had very little milk. I couldn't feed him. I remember sitting on my bed, feeding Miles with an eye dropper so he wouldn't get used to a bottle nipple. I tried so hard. I cried. Then finally, I accepted it. I would be one of those mothers that formula fed. Once I truly accepted it, it was relieving. I was formula fed and I turned out fine. I let it go and let Brandon help. Boy was that nice. I also let go of my preconceived notion that all mothers must breastfeed. Who am I to judge? The thing is you never know the situation. I started meeting other formula feeding mothers and I learned that there are many many reasons a mother chooses or resorts to formula feeding. Most obvious is the lack of milk supply or other issues with letting down, etc.. Single mothers may formula feed because they have no help and work and for them, it's easier. Some mothers had husbands who aren't supportive. Some are on heavy medications and it's not safe. Some mothers work and have to work long hours and it's difficult to pump and wake several times at night. Some children were adopted. Whatever the reason, it's their reason. It doesn't affect my family so I learned to not jump to conclusions.
After I started formula feeding, I remember being at a play date with little Miles and needing to run and get something and handing Miles to a friend with his bottle. She looked at me and said, "I don't know how to feed a baby a bottle, all of my babies were breastfed." Are you kidding me? I would get pity party looks and comments on how breast milk was best for him. That's when I learned that I know what is best for my baby and my family. How could others know my situation. I have heard it all and the most disturbing thing is hearing a breast feeding mother say that watching a mother bottle feed her child is disgusting. Really? Disgusting? What disgusts me is when mothers start judging other mothers. Lets all be on the same team. We are mothers. We, most of us, want what's best for our children. And sometimes formula is what is best for our children. It sure beats starving.
A fellow formula feeding mother once told me about those studies that state that breastfed babies have higher IQ's and lower immune systems. She brought up a great point. She said that the studies that show that breastfed babies have higher IQ's is not accurate. That, typically, breastfeeding mothers are stay at home mothers . Typically, stay at home mothers are more involved in the education of their children. So therefore, parents that are more involved in their child's learning have children with higher IQ's. While not all breastfeeding mothers stay at home and not all stay at home mothers are more involved in their child's education, she did make a good point. There are many different factors in a child's IQ. I understand, breastmilk is natural and is the best thing for babies. However, there are alternatives, and the use of them should be the business of their families, not others. Okay, I know that is going to be a controversial argument. I just had to say that in my own experience, judging a mother who doesn't breastfeed has made me eat my own words. I became one of those mothers who had and chose to formula feed. I did what I thought best for my children and I am so glad I did. It has made me a better mother. Besides, I'd like to test my child's IQ against any breastfed child's IQ any!
Co-Sleeping...another hot topic amongst mothers. I truly thought that both of our children would co-sleep. The thought of a child growing in my womb or growing away from me for so long, and then to push them away in their own crib and in another room, seemed harsh. I wanted my babies with me, I wanted to be able to comfort them all through the night. Well...Miles was a true test of sanity, for us. We were new parents, and he was a very demanding baby. Miles was born just about a year after some close friends of ours lost their 13 month old child to SIDS. I was a nervous wreck. I wanted him to sleep with us, but I was scared I would smother him. Every little noise would wake me and if it didn't I would wake up to check on him to make sure he was still breathing. If I couldn't tell, I would poke him until I could see him move and then he'd wake up and the cycle started all over again. Sleep was something our family did very little of when Miles was a baby. I do think it had a lot to do with me wanting to go back to work. Having him in the bed with us made it difficult for all of us to sleep. We tried, we really did. It was not the right fit for our family. It is great for others, but not ours. When Miles started sleeping in is own crib in his own room, he got more sleep and we got more sleep. He was happier and we were happier and better parents. I learned that judging a mother who chooses not to co-sleep is foolish. That mother knows something that I wish I knew before I had Choosing not to co-sleep made me a better mother and a lot better wife...haha!
I could go on and on about the lessons I have learned as a wife and a mother, but the point is that I have learned to take my own preconceived notions of a mother and understand that mothers and families are all made differently. What works for one mother doesn't work for another. In the end, I believe that we all do want what is best for our children, and no matter how much I don't understand, the way another mother parents her child IS the best way for her!


Stephanie said...

I agree. I wish we could all just support each other and understand that every mom is trying to do what she thinks is best for her family.

I also would like to say I was 23 and my husband was 19 when we got married. Oh and after we brought the boys home, I so wanted to get a job, now I am glad I can stay home, but the demands of two babies was a rough transition!

Missy said...

WOW!! That is one long, well-thought out post! Where did you find the time to jot all of that down?!?!?! I'm lucky if I can get one pic uploaded to my blog!!! Of, course, I have twice as many kids as you, so I get a pass, right?...HAHAHAHA!!!

That was very well-written and right on target! Everyone does what is best for their family. As mothers, and women, we should support and lift each other up. Too many women thrive on tearing others down....
I'm sure everyone has been judgemental at some point in their lives. But until we have walked a mile in another person's shoes...we need to keep our opinions to ourselves!!

And BTW......12 days until Marley/Ru day!!!!!! I'm so excited to see you all again!!!!!

Ben and Kate said...

Well said! Thanks for writing this post. We need all the support we can get and I can't stand it when I have to justify every choice I've made so far. Tips and ideas are one thing, but flat out questioning why is so annoying.

Erin Sager said...

Amen Sister!!!!!! Great post

Mamushsky World Headquarters said...


great post.


Audrey Johnson said...

I love you!!!
You know me well enough to know that I am far from the perfect mother and I change my mind daily on how to raise my children!! But like you said, most importantly, we can't judge other people when we aren't in their shoes. If I had written that blog it would have focused on another topic near to my heart..that i'm sure you already know;)
And it all comes down to one thing, like you said...we all love our children and we all want what is best for them...what works for one family may not be best for another family, it doesn't mean it's wrong!!
I love you!!!

Kayla said...

this is all very true :D

Luciano's said...

I just got all teary eyed over your post, I am just this week going through the same breast feeding saga you posted. I am still having a difficult time with letting go of breast feeding. It is heart breaking, but I am sure it will be fine. Thank you for your honest post.