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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mommy Judgement

I have been thinking a lot on mommy judgement as of late as a couple articles that have come out in the last couple days (one that I wrote) and another have caused quite a debate in the mommy world.

We speak about how when people know better they do better, and that everyone will find a way that works for their family, and how judgement fuels the mommy wars - and it does, but that doesn't mean that all moms need to stop judging.

Wait…did I just say that you *should* judge? Wasn't my last post all about *not* judging…am I contradicting myself? I would say no, because I personally believe that there are different kinds of judgement, and different degrees of how one should be judged.

Let me give you some examples.

I wrote an article on being a "sometimes" single parent. This is when mom or dad is out of town for work on a regular basis. It talked about coping techniques and how to keep your family whole when one is obviously missing. When I posted about it a couple friends of mine were completely insulted that I would write about being a single parent when I am not one. (but the article wasn't about that) I feel as if I was judged very harshly - without any real information gathered. Neither of them had actually read the article so they were just putting their perception of what they *thought* I had written and judged me for it.

This is not a nice way to judge moms.

Another would be judging a mom on how she goes about the day to day of raising her kids. Judging them on what they eat, what they wear or how they dress. We can also go into where the baby sleeps, what they do for a living etc. etc. These are normal judgments that run rampant in society - and really shouldnt matter. Every single person is judging you. Watching you. Looking at what you are doing. They are called snap judgments and to try and get people above this - especially when they are looking for connections (like in mommy groups) is almost impossible. Unless you are a devout spiritual person... I would say that everyone has these type of judgments.

As a side, these are the judgments that I fall prey to the most. I fret about how I look and how my kids look to the outside world on a regular basis…it is why there are brushes and wipes in my car at all times.

This isn't a nice way to judge people either but this one is more of a *perception* at any given moment people may or may not be actually judging you - and for the most part these are judgments that you have about yourself - remember my last post (own your choice).

The third judgement is where the second article landed on. A parent "expert" consistantly tells parents to let their children cry themselves to sleep and not check on them for extended periods of time from 2 months on.. (or 12lbs - which ever comes first). Anyway, she felt judged by parents who did not believe in her methods and other parents who use these methods also feel judged (albeit maybe having not used the extreme methods that she subscribes to).

Isn't this a good judgment? If someone is doing something that is harmful to another person, or preying on people when they are in a vulerable state…isnt this when we *should* judge?
To me advocating that an infant under 8 weeks should be left for 12 hrs at night with no exceptions is abuse…and so this expert in my opinion is teaching abuse. She should be judged.

The moms that follow her blindly should be as well. Then they should also get the support that they need.

I kind of liken it to Child Protective Services. Lets say you see a mom that is yelling at a baby. Some one under 6 months old. She is really loud, screaming at a defensless infant - in a food court - or maybe she tells you that she locks her child in the bathroom all night without supper until he poops in the potty (for hours on end), or that on Facebook you see that a mom says that she puts hot sauce on her toddlers mouth when he swears….. these are all reasons why CPS would be called…. but this judgement or is it looking out for someone who can not look out for themselves??

I believe it is the latter. Children need protection by the people in the society surrounding them. The society surrounding them uses judgement to assess whether a behaviour is acceptble or not.

So mommy's… there are three kinds of judgement; snap judgments, the judgement that you *percieve* (which may or may not actually be there) and the judgement that I hope that everyone does…every single day.

I know I do.

**added after being published - I also wanted to say that since I judge moms I expect judgement from moms as well. If I am harming my kids I *want* to be called on it. If we feel like everything we do as parents is not a regret - then we really *shouldn't* feel judgement - and have nothing to really worry about. IMO.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Formula vs Breastfeeding : A rant

This is an response to Breast Feeding vs Formula : A Rant. 

I am getting so tired of this. Blog after blog after blog of formula feeding moms that have to set the record straight about how they feel persecuted by the breastfeeding police. That they were somehow judged somewhere and some how by some horrible LLL leader or "breastfeeding Nazi". (btw - this term is horribly offensive and disrespectful to the people who have survived the holocaust and those affected by it. - more on that later.)

Why is it that when a mom asks for support or encouragement for breastfeeding issues she gets an onslaught of
I went through this and eventually had to switch to formula, with both babies, it was very discouraging and I felt like a failure, but sometimes our bodies just can't give our babies what they need. YOu obviously are trying and love your baby and that's what is most important. Keep on trying and if it doesn't work out, know that you tried everything you could, you are still a great mom who wants what's best for your baby!

I have been to various lactation consultants and the LaLeche League. I hate to say this but I found LLL a little judgmental. One of the ladies there told me it's a urban myth that a woman can't produce enough milk. That I just was not committed enough. At that point I decided to try and go it myself. I don't feel like anyone should be judged for the choices they make and are already struggling with on a daily basis.

I know how you are feeling...people make you feel so guilty. My body did not produce enough milk for my Son and I had to supplement since he was losing weight. I found it so exhausting, breastfeeding, then the bottle, then pumping. Then it was time to feed again. At 7 weeks my husband finally said while I was pumping and getting nothing, "Don't feel guilty if you want to stop" After I stopped I enjoyed being a new Mom so much more. My Son is almost 2 now and is a happy healthy boy!

Each one of these posts says that they tried and were *unsuccessful* at breastfeeding. Each one. So, how is that encouraging to the mom asking the question? 

I bring this up because there seems to be a real double standard when it comes to formula feeding moms and moms who use breastmilk.  Now I would argue along with The Feminist Breeder that formula feeding is not necessarily a "choice"… but lets argue for a moment that you think it is. One *chooses* to feed formula and one *chooses* to feed breastmilk. Okay. Now, why is it that when ever there is a question on breastfeeding it is taken as an excuse to explain how hard it is and how formula *saved the baby's life* but a breastfeeding mom can't be proud of her accomplishment? Does that somehow make her judgemental of a formula feeding mom? Just because she succeeded at getting milk to come out of her breasts?? 

Another question was posed on Today Moms facebook page asking about how long people had exclusively breastfed for, and what helped them, and what could have helped them even more…. the responses again were not very supportive of breastfeeding…. 

Some babies just don't take to it well and at the end of the day the health and well-being of your child should be more important than you being able to say you exclusively breastfed.

Nothing would have helped. I never lactated at all, not even colostrum. Fortunately, I didn't have any stupid hang ups about it and happily gave my kids formula.

I really wanted to breast feed but from day one my daughter wasn't having it. Pumping is just not the same and doesn't produce milk the same way if that's all your doing. I pumped for about two months then went all the way to formula.

 I did it for 3 months. Never had enough due to death threatening complications when I had my daughter. So I'm VERY thankful for bottles and "the fake powder stuff" like Amy calls it. Two centuries ago my daughter and I would've been dead if it not were for the advancements in medicine.

Are we noticing a trend yet?? 

And then to the Blog in question. This particular blog was written in response to a twitter party with a formula manufacturer giving away free swag being shut down because they were afraid of the backlash from the "lactivist" community. (doesn't that say something right there? The formula company cancelled it on their own because they were afraid of what exactly??)

Anyway, this mom, felt the need to post because she felt that the moms who *choose* formula should get free swag too. (and sure, yes they should). But, the thing is that formula companies are horrible in their marketing practices and they don't really care about you once they have gotten you - I mean just look at the recalls…. they want that NEW mom. That mom who is struggling and LOOKING for SUPPORT - and then they swoop in on their white horse and give her a free sample and *save her baby's life*. 

How is that ethical? 

And so blog posts standing up for the *choice* of formula and saying things like - "You don’t think it crosses our mind that, if it weren’t for formula, our babies would die? Do you think that feels good?"  …are just lining the pockets of the food giants.

What about milk sharing, or milk banks?? (but that is another post entirely).

So when a mom who is really only invested in the health and wellness of another mother and child - mental health as well, has NO ulterior motive…no bottom line…they get mud slung at them - 

unfreakingbelievable. Seriously? And what would these breast milk nazis have done for MY children, when my breast milk didn't contain enough fatty nutrition and I was forced to use formula so that my kids didn't starve to death? When the hell will self righteous bitches learn to mind their own damn business, take care of their own brats as opposed to telling us how to take care of ours? I'm with you on this one, T. This is god damn INFURIATING.

What is infuriating to me is that it seems like if you formula feed you can pretty much say whatever you want and not really get held accountable. You can call activists "Nazis" and it is socially acceptable… You can make a societal issue all about you and not really understand the politics and money behind the issue and blame it all on judgement. 

Basically, you can run your mouth about support and judgement and then turn around and do the EXACT same thing to a mom who is wanting to or actually breastfeeding…. 

Why can we not see the hypocrisy here and why do we allow it to continue?? 

If you truly *chose* to formula feed. i.e.) had an adequate supply of milk, a ton of support, no issues at all and THEN decided that you wanted to formula feed for convenience - as this is the ONLY way that I think it is actually a *choice* then seriously. OWN YOUR CHOICE - and don't feel guilty or defensive because it was YOUR CHOICE.

And moms that tried to breastfeed but could not for whatever reason. Get angry at the medical professionals who failed you. Get angry at your genetics. Get angry at our society for not supporting you. Get angry at the formula companies that undermined you at every turn… but STOP taking it out on other mothers who tried and for whatever reason were lucky at it. Praise them. Look up to them…you wanted to breastfed right? you tried right?? so why the hate for those who made it? 

Stop with the judgement, the name calling and defensiveness…if you want support, start giving it. 

ps. before you start to throw mud at me - my first born was formula fed - and guess what?? He is not *fine*. He has allergies, sleeping issues, and hyperactivity tendencies…. hmmm…the anecdotal evidence didn't work there did it? 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Mother's Nose

I am one of those moms that not only uses the daily bath to clean my incredibly dirty boys, but also to have them play for 30 mins or so while I fold laundry on the bathroom floor in front of them.
Its kind of a wind down ritual to our hectic day.

This particular day my older boys were done their bath, and had gotten pajamas on and started to play on the floor beside me while I continued to fold the continuous pile of laundry that was before me.

I smelt this faint very familiar smell, that I was interested to find the source. Having the two clean boys in front of me I asked…did you fart?

After peals of laughter they assured me that no, they had not. But, I could still smell it. I asked the younger, did you poop in your pants? No. I asked the older - knowing that he did not - if he had. No! Absolutley not.

I sat there for a moment - sniffing the air. Listening to my youngest one happily splash in the water. I looked over and noticed that the wetbag for my cloth diapers was open, and so I thought that it must be coming from there and continued to fold - and gave the 2 year old his 5 min warning.

As I said this warning, not really looking up from folding a 3 inch wet turd flew past my right ear and hit my wall. I spun around stood up, and a second one hit the floor right beside me.

I looked at my two year old, $h!t eating grin on his face (thank goodness not literally) with another peice of poo in his hand ready to throw.

"Poop?" he says. "Bum" he says. "Yes" I say. "No throw" I say.

Slowly walking towards the loaded weapon. (my other two boys in complete disbelief that I am not losing it…) He aims, and fires…near miss. (but to my relief all the ammo is gone from the tub.)

By now my bathroom really smells (the bathroom that I just spent the better part of the day cleaning and sanitizing) and there are poop smears and wet logs in many different spots.

I could have lost it…but, I didn't. :)

I kept my cool, took him out, washed him in my sink, cleaned all the poop up and put them all to bed….it was one of those moments in parenting where you could go either way - and I was sad I didn't have my camera.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

You know you are a mother when….

Today was one of those days. The days that just keep kicking you even when you are down.
It started when I decided (for the first time in 3 weeks) to go to bed early. My littlest still sleeps in the family bed, so I happily climbed in all ready to get some much needed sleep - when he woke up.
He sometimes wakes for a couple minutes, so I patted him down and he fell back asleep.

And then woke up. Again, and again, and again. He woke up every hour from 11pm to 5am… He is night weaned and has been sleeping through the night for months (at 23 months old). It was a rough night!!

But, we mothers can function on very little sleep so I got up and went about my day. I let my middle child pour the milk for his cereal (training him to do it himself) and he spilled the whole thing…It was okay - no need to cry over spilt milk - but my cleaning list started to grow from that point.

We went to feed our fish. Three little guppies that we were growing attached to - and of course, "why is that one upside down??" and of course it *had* to be K's as he is the most sensitive one. Lots of talking and lots of tears later, and lots of WHY questions… we said goodbye to the spotted one.

After the tragedy they were playing very nicely, little fights here and there, however they would not leave the kitchen and had me tripping over them time and time out. I was starting to get frustrated. I remembered that they seem to act out more on a weekend when dad is not home - so I sucked it up, and found them work to do.

I decided to send them outside to play so that I could finish the kitchen. Just as I put my youngest in his snow gear he pooped. I picked him up and went upstairs to change him (of course I had just run out of diaper liners - and so now my cleaning list grew some more as this particular cloth diaper needed some TLC.

As I was putting a freshly clean cloth diper on his bum, my middle child came in the room. I asked him if he went pee (as he was entering the bathroom as I headed up the stairs). He said, yes that he had gone pee. But that he wanted to be like E. (the youngest). I asked him - how so? He told me that he pooped in his pants. He is 4. Has been potty trained for a year. I said, you want to poop in your pants? He replied, no I pooped in my pants to be like E.

I would like to say that I stayed calm, but I was pretty irritated that he would purposefully poop in his pants (adding more to the cleaning list). I took him to the bathroom and sure enough a kid sized poop was in his pants. I put him on the potty and left the room…taking a parent time out. (He finished on the potty and I praised and smiled…and the grumbled to myself while cleaning now the potty and the pants.)

They went outside. The day continued. They came back in. Wanted to paint.

We painted. They made a collosial mess… paint on the floor and the walls… apparently they like to wave their hands a lot when excited.

Cleaned up, went downstairs - ate popcorn, watched a movie. (emotionally scarred R - the middle - UP is too intense for him.)

Left the TV on for 15 mins while I re-heated the pizzas in the oven and came down to E - sleeping at 6:30pm… 7 was usually his bedtime, and I panicked. Not wanting him to miss dinner and not wanting to be up all night - I woke him…..he didnt eat dinner anyway….

Bed for the big two at 8pm….E didnt go down until 10pm… that cat nap sure gave him a second wind.

Just as I got E to sleep, K - the big one, calls me into his room.. I walk in and he goes, "mom, my neck feels funny." I say, "oh?" and walk over to feel it. Not a moment after my hand is on his neck he starts to gag and projectiles in my direction. I pick up the closest thing to me - which is a basket - and he fills it with regurgetated popcorn and pizza. I gag, he gags again and continues.

After he is done, I carry him to the bathroom and place him on the toilet. I go and strip his bed (look more cleaning!!) and thow it in the wash. I look at the basket.

It's a wicker basket that I use to collect their toys that they leave in my living room. It sits on my stairs and then at the end of the day is brought up into their rooms to empty….so this one - full of puke - also had ALL of the toys that he loves the MOST!

I take the basket into the bathroom dump it in the sink - fill the sink with water and gag - and gag- and gag - and start to *fish* out Lego Minifigures…. Luke, Darth Vader, and Ninjagos and floating in stomach contents.

It is in that moment that I think about how *only* a mom would do this. No one else would sift through vomit to save beloved toys. And as he sat on the toilet he kept asking in a panicked voice - "you are not losing them down the drain are you??"

I wish that was the end - but it is not…he puked again…and I had to strip the bed again, and throw stuff in the wash again - and as I write this I can hear him retching… is going to be a long long long night….

Sigh. (but this *is* my job.)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Full Circle

5 years ago I started a little business with a friend. Just a mom that I had met at the playground. Our kids were the same age and we both would talk about how our city lacked the community supports that we were so desperately searching for.
Our kids were over one, and we had just started to feel less isolated. We talked about how great it would be to have a place where moms could use it like their own living rooms and come and meet, have a cup of coffee and maybe learn some tools to make them more confident parents.
Confident parents = happy parents = happy kids.
We decided to open Room to Grow. We wanted it to be the place for moms to come when pregnant, with newborns, to have fun *with* their toddlers (as the majority of our classes were parented), and finally to allow children to transition to independent preschool with none of the stress and forced transitions that occur so often at that age.
We had our ups and downs in those 5 years, spent a lot of money, and never really made it back. But regardless of the growing pains, the neighbours who didn't really like us at first, staff changes and all the stresses that come with owning your own business - we still opened everyday, with a smile on our faces to support those moms and dads that came through our doors.
That mom who I met in the playground became a best friend, and more than that. We had our second kids at the same time, and then our third. We supported each other, and while Room to Grow was always a topic of our conversation - so were first steps, sleepless nights and worries that only another mother understands.
In October we had the opportunity to decide on our future. My best friend and business partner was expecting her forth, my husband always away working up north to support us, gave us pause…we were still successful, but tired. We loved seeing the moms and helping them out and supporting them…but we had growing families of our own and demands that were needing to be met.
With a heavy heart we decided to sell.
It could have been worse. The ressession killed alot of the mom and baby businesses over the last 5 years and we were one of the only ones still standing. We saw this as a success. We had awards, and media coverage and multiple children - all while maintaining our business baby.
Today, the leap day, is the last day that I co-own this business with my partner/friend and it is the fear of losing that connection that makes me the saddest. We built it together and it was amazing and we were a force to be reckoned with. Imagine if we had been able to put our *whole* selves into Room to Grow - it would have been unstoppable!
But that is where the truth lies. We couldn't. We love our families too much. We want to be there with them and stop putting their needs behind that of a dream.
I deleted the facebook page tonight, and the website has already gone to the new preschool - which will be wonderful I am sure. But it was hard to press that button. Hard to see years of work just gone. As if it was never there.
Sometimes I wonder if in a couple years someone will say - hey, whatever happened to that place? Or will something better come up?
That is the thing with a business targeted to moms…a new mom and baby dyad is made every minute of every day…so probably people will remember - but only the ones who knew us when we were open….new moms just wont realize that they missed anything at all….
And somehow that point is what makes me the saddest…..
I wanted to make it 5 years. So I made that goal.
I guess I have some time before I need to make a new one.
Thank you to everyone in my life who has been so supportive of Room to Grow and of me, and my beautiful, wonderful, amazing business partner. I could not have done any of this without her.
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