It seems everywhere I turn I see things suggesting that motherhood turns women into ‘mompetitors’: women who are strongly critical of each other and their differing parenting decisions. For me, I think it has been the opposite. Becoming a mother has helped me become much less judgemental and more able to see that even if it is not a choice I’d make or a method I would use, it can still be a good choice.
I have always tried to see things from other people’s perspectives but it’s not always easy. Before I was a mother, I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t want to breastfeed your baby. Now that I have had to deal with the frustration and the sleepless nights – I get it. I may not understand why you wouldn’t want to, but I certainly understand why you would choose not to or why you would stop. I was fortunate enough to have had a year of maternity leave and my son never had a drop of formula. But I couldn’t even imagine going back to work when my baby was 6 weeks old and continuing to breastfeed. Where do mothers find the energy? I applaud anyone who is able to manage that, but I really don’t think I could.
My son is now almost 2 and is now a pretty decent sleeper, but it has been a long and painful road. I didn’t want to use methods that involved crying it out when I felt he was too little to understand. Slowly, with a good night time routine and a healthy respect for the importance of naps, his sleep has vastly improved. This worked for us, but it was often difficult. At his worst my son was waking up every hour. Looking back, I’m not sure how we all made it through that alive. Despite deciding not to sleep train, I completely understand why other parents choose to do it and I respect that choice as well. Being sleep deprived is hard on your mental, physical and emotional state and for some people sleep training is definitely going to be the best option for them.
Being able to view these things with more empathy and understanding than I previously had has made me take a second look at things I have taken for granted in other areas of my life as well. It has helped me see that situations are often a lot more complex than they see at first blush.
I still have my own opinions and the way I want to do things, but I’m now much more accepting of people who make choices that are different from my own. Although something might be the right choice for me, it’s not necessarily the right choice for someone else.