When I was 17 I worked in a kids toy store. For whatever reason, I remember the owner asking me a strange question, "Who do you think drives the most recklessly through this shopping center?" Before I could respond, she told me, "Mom's." It's ten years later and I still remember that somehow relevant training question.
Now, I'm the Mom and I think every day about decisions I make. I think about who will judge me, what will I be ok with, how do I want to parent? Thinking about how to parent is a lot like thinking about how to fix the world: I can't do it all but I can make a choice each day to love. If I think beyond that, it's so overwhelming I shut down.
I've been thinking about all of the areas mothers/parents are judged by each other and others:
Do you breast feed?
Do you immunize your children?
Do you feed them home made organic food?
Do you spank?
Will they go to pre-school?
Do they go to daycare?
Quite frankly, these are personal choices, so why are they such heated topics?
I tried breast feeding but honestly--I hated it! I hated that I was the only one that could fulfill that need for my son. I hated that it took so much time and was so frequent. I wanted my body back but I had a heart I was more than willing to give. It took my pediatrician telling me, "Allegra, I can't tell the difference between breast fed babies and formula fed babies and I've been doing this a long time. If you are miserable, your son is going to feel that. I support you in what you need to do." I stopped the very day he gave me the OK. He told me, women will have things to say about it, but he didn't. I needed that. I am not the woman to breast feed and I'm no less a mom for feeling that way.
I do immunize my son. I both trust my pediatrician entirely and also don't see why I wouldn't. I believe in immunizing him (with vaccines that have been tested an used widely and those that are recommended by my pediatrician...seems I love that guy,huh?!). If he had health conditions that required me to wait, I would. Again, I trust my doctor, period. I'm a Western Medicine mom who's more than open to natural remedies--I'd prefer them--but in the end I will be birthing my children in a hospital and giving them shots.
I tried making my own baby food. Oh how naive I was as a new mom, but I did it. I boiled and pureed and then guess what, he got older and only wanted cheese. Would I love for him to eat veggies or chicken? Of course, but he doesn't. And I panick! But I don't let my toddler drink black coffee (I've seen it), I don't let him eat candy (unless Daddy sneaks him half of an Andes mint or I want to see his face light up over a cookie), and I try to get him to eat new things and that's the best I can do.
We do spank. We spank out of love, with explanation, and NEVER in anger. Discipline is appropriate when it is from love and out of love and in our home, we spank. I know some cock their eyebrows to that. This is just what we do in our home and very infrequently.
Yes, our son will go to pre-school and he will go to college. I was raised in a family that said, after high school you go to college, no if's, and's, or but's. Maybe he'll go to a trade school but we are preparing financially & guidance wise to send him to a 4-year college.
Yes, my son goes to daycare. He has two parents that love him immensely--so much so that we have to provide for him. My husband's position doesn't offer benefits, mine does. To provide for my family, I work 30 hours a week and am able to give us health care so when a tooth goes through a lip or he breaks a leg, we don't hesitate to take him to the doctor.
I am a good Mom. I love my son. Every single day, I love and care for my son. These are my parenting choices and there will always be the pressures of books, shows, radio, peers, elders who think what I do should be different. I will always be open to discussions but I am not open to ridicule or judgment and I try to extend that same grace to others. At the end of the day, we are all linked as parents by our innate desire to L O V E and in the end, isn't that all that matters?