It takes a village, they say, often leaving out exactly who you should prioritize being in this said village.
When I was pregnant with AB, I didn't read a single baby book. I joined BabyCenter and got those, "YOUR BEBE IS NOW A PEANUT" emails, and quickly regretted that. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as online mom groups.
I was blissfully unaware.
I spent my time worrying about moving into a house, how we were going to decorate the baby room, how we were going to afford life, how our lives would change, and wondering if I was going to be a good parent.
What I didn't do was research the pros and cons of breastfeeding. I didn't look into whether or not I should co-sleep. I didn't fully wallow in the merits of baby carrying versus baby strolling. I didn't look too heavily into how screen time will undoubtedly kill your child. I didn't do a lot of research, and THANK BABY JESUS I DIDN'T because had I known about all of the things people were about to start judging me for, I probably would have become a hermit.
I did look into the benefits of drinking beer while breastfeeding.
Of course, as the story goes, girl becomes pregnant, girl has baby, girl joins mom group, and girl vows never to have another child again so she doesn't have to put up with that bullshit — not the child, but the judgmental as fuck parenting community.
We are our worst enemy. Mostly we pretend to be a supportive community, meant to "lift women (or parents) up," when in reality, many are just waiting for the opportunity to tell another woman that her child's IQ will be affected because she turned to formula.
A lot of this comes down to the language and approach we use. "YOU SHOULD BE...." or "THE BEST THING FOR YOUR BABY IS...".
We speak in absolutes, instead of acknowledging all of the many different upbringings, grandma remedies and experiences we as children had, and our parents before us, when determining how to raise the future generation.
We see a parent at the park on a cellphone and make a snide remark.
Our kid throws a tantrum at the market and five strangers are sharing how they would have handled it.
A parent takes out a bottle of formula at a restaurant — garners stares.
A nursing mother takes out a boob at a restaurant — garners stares.
Earlier today we watched a viral video of a man giving his son a baseball bat as a surprise present and people still had something to complain about. The comments, sadly predictable, rolled in: "You should say Happy Birthday immediately to your child when they wake up or you're traumatizing them. What a mean thing to do, I would have been devastated." I mean, right? How terribly cruel to let this little boy think his birthday was forgotten for the 30 seconds it took him and his dad to go to the car and find the surprise present in the back of the car. MUST WE COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING? The boy got a present he wanted, on his birthday, and his dad was present to attend his baseball game and be present in his son's life, and WE ARE STILL BITCHING. "Well, I would have..." STFU. Nobody cares what you would have done. Do it with your child and move the fuck onnnnnnn.
With the level of insane judgment, whether it be from the "breast is best" crowd or the anti-CRY-IT-OUT (CIO) crusaders, parents are surely drowning from a lack of support.
I've never understood why we couldn't be happy for someone if their baby was fed, and clothed and happy. Noooope, that's not enough for us. We're now professional parents and our way is surely the only, right way, just like our god is the only, right god.
My village, and the one I'll continue to cultivate for AB2, will consist of the people who respect the challenges of parents. Respect the challenges of being a person and a parent. Respect that there are more important battles to be fought than whether or not I breastfeed, use formula or both. I encourage you to remember you get to choose your village. It is your right to ignore unsolicited comments and "advice" from those who have no other investment in your child's life other than to be a superior-than-thou stranger on an internet board or in a grocery store line.
You're going to do just fine if you keep that in mind.