29 October 2013

I'm Sorry, Mama

I've got more to say and an outlet for sharing it. Oh dear!

After my post yesterday, I feel compelled to apologize. I don't apologize for the content of that post, but for the fact that not only did I get defensive, I actually transitioned into attack mode. I thought I had escaped the "Mommy Wars." It is now apparent that I have not. Deep down, I truly wanted to add a voice to the conversation that just wasn't being expressed and I hope that my response can help to support another mama in her journey.

I've read and re-read the blog post on Banned from Baby Showers, my post and several comments and replies to both. My first reading caused me to feel attacked and shamed for the method in which I fed my baby for her first year in life. After desperately trying to breastfeed my baby and making uncountable sacrifices to keep my daughter on breast milk when breastfeeding proved to be impossible for us, I felt like I was being told that I hadn't tried hard enough, hadn't spent enough time, read enough books, spoke to enough lactation consultants or cried enough tears. That even though I had found a way to give my breast milk to my child, that because I did not hold my child to my breast, I wasn't good enough. On top of that, I got to read about all of the breastfeeding moments I had dreamed of but never experienced. All the pain and insecurity came flooding back. I became defensive and, in that spirit, I fought back. I entered the "Mommy Wars."

Let me be clear that it is I who entered the Mommy Wars. I continue to believe that the author intended to support breastfeeding, not tear another mama down. It is my insecurities and experience that fueled my response. I went so far as to say I was "outraged" by the original post. At the time I was outraged, but I'm not any more. And I don't want you to be outraged either.

So, here it is. My apology: I'm sorry. I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions. I'm sorry for assuming that you were writing at me. You don't even know me. Why should I assume that? I'm sorry for responding too quickly and for letting emotion fuel my words. I'm sorry for not slowing down to process it a little more. I'm sorry for not putting myself in another woman's shoes. In my response, I stated, "Please don't assume you know the whole story." I needed to take my own advice. I'm sorry for failing to do just that. I'm sorry for making it all about me.

This morning I read this post from the Momastery blog. This is a blog I enjoy because of the author's transparency in her flaws and her unwavering support of all moms. She doesn't sugar-coat her stories or experiences. It helps us, mere mortals, remember that we are not alone. She shared, this morning, that the "Mommy Wars" represents an internal struggle with our own choices and insecurities. And, in order to feel better about ourselves, we must tell ourselves (and sometimes others) that we are right and they are wrong. I previously thought that I had avoided the "Mommy Wars" because I was surrounded by such wonderful, non-judgmental mamas. But now that I have this understanding, I realize that I may not have escaped unscathed. Despite preaching non-judgment, support and encouragement, I'm not immune to judgment and superiority (and inferiority too). I don't usually share these thoughts publicly, but they have caused me to cast other mamas (at least internally) in a bad light. And this is a reflection of me, not them.

Again, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for secretly judging you, mamas. I'm sorry for allowing my insecurities to cause me to avoid you. I'm sorry for ignoring you, rather than supporting you, if we have differing views or methods.

Now, before I'm done, I do feel the need to go on the defensive again. There have been times that I have been inconsiderate, judgmental and unsupportive, but I do hope and pray that this is not my norm. I believe that, more often than not, I have lended an understanding ear, given an encouraging word, and offered a helping hand. I aspire to live my life with humility and kindness.

I'll end this post in almost the same way as I did yesterday's (I removed one sentence) because I believe it is worth repeating. Thanks for reading and joining me on this journey.

All this to say that it is important to support the mothers in your lives; to encourage them; to listen to them; to congratulate them; to tell them they are doing a great job; to offer advice when it is requested; to be sympathetic to their story and their struggles; to celebrate their triumphs and commiserate in their struggles. We’re all in this together.

Please take a minute today to tell a mom, “You’re doing a great job!” Chances are she really needs to hear it.

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