A different kind of Momflict

I’ve debated about continuing to write since quitting my job; however, I’ve had numerous friends encouraging me to continue; thus, here I am again.  The few entries I’ve written have really made me feel connected with those of you who actually take the time to read my thoughts so I guess it seems fitting to continue even though my momflict(s) are completely different from those that prompted me to start writing in the first place.

Here I am almost two months into my stay at home momhood and each day  I am more grateful  for the opportunity to stay home with my dear sweet baby boy.  The longer I’m home and the more time I spend researching and talking to other mothers I continue to come back to the same interesting realization.  Motherhood and child rearing are touchy subjects.  There’s always the PC standard answer (that of course follows every extremely opinionated piece of advice) “You have to do what’s best for your family”; but more often than not that phrase seems to come filled with judgement.

Every parent believes their child is the smartest and their parenting style is the best; and they should.  But somehow it seems doubt and insecurity creep in when the mother next to you starts talking about how what she’s doing is completely different from what you’re doing.

My dear friend and I were joking while strawberry picking with our little guys recently about how our kids will end up in therapy for the different things we’ve chosen to do as parents.  Raising kids is a hard and serious job.  The weight of being responsible for the most minute details of a human being’s existence is beyond comprehension for someone without children.  The love that pours out of us from places we never knew we had or the joy in the smallest successes is indescribable to those not in our shoes.

So why is it that instead of lifting up our fellow mothers in genuine support we judge or allow our self-doubt to creep in when someone makes different choices with raising their children then we do? Do we really feel so inadequate as parents?  Do we have an innate need to second guess our every move? Does pointing blame and raising eyebrows at the next mom make us feel better about our own choices?  Maybe the judging doesn’t happen all the time but I’ve certainly felt it in my short time as a mother.

Many times I feel it in the choices I choose to make for our family; what I feel is right for us, may not be what the next mother feels is right for her family.  And I can ALWAYS tell when it’s not.

I hate that feeling.  I am confident and comfortable with where our family is at and how my husband and I are choosing to do things.  I just wish my head and my heart would remember that when a seasoned mother makes a passively cutting remark about the latest book she’s read in the trends of parenting or about how advanced her little one is in comparison to ours.  I need to be able to genuinely stop and see that moment for what it really is…different!

I am working to embrace the differences and the ideas that I am surrounded by; what an opportunity to learn and grow as a mother! Experiencing my self-doubts and ever evolving ideas about parenting has made me so aware of my own eyebrow raising and thoughts of “…my child will never…” My hope is that you may embrace this challenge too and look at the next mother you come into contact with as your colleague rather than someone who makes your parenting choices leave you questioning whether or not you’re making choices you stand behind.  It’s a hard job this motherhood…embrace it and those who share it with you!


About The Momflict

I am a new mom adjusting to life with my first born...trying to find my place in the world and wrestling with the changes of life in staying home or going back to work...thus, the momflict.
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6 Responses to A different kind of Momflict

  1. Beautifully written post. It is so hard. Period. I am often asked my advice/opinion on things and I feel like my advice is not of any one particular extreme – I feel good offering my advice to parents but I am always open for new ideas or new experiences. I often feel the same as you do in regards to Breastfeeding. I am always so put off when the “Lactivists” criticize moms for not BFing, or not BFing long enough, or not trying hard enough, or… or… or… To me, I feel like we should respect each other more on our choices… at least these women are FEEDING their children whether its from bottle or breast. :: steps off soap box!::

    You are doing a great job!

  2. emily says:

    Whatever, Cash is the most gorgeous, most advanced baby I know 😉 Good post. I think every kid is different and so every parenting style is going to be different…there were ideas we had in our heads before we had Lucy that she QUICKLY blew out of the water and we’ve definitely been judged for decisions we’ve made in parenting her along the way. But whatever 🙂 You just have to let it roll off and keep plugging along 🙂 Love ya!

  3. Cassandra says:

    Erin-I have been struggling with these exact thoughts, feeling like a ping-pong from “good mom” to “bad mom” and back again. I started reading this amazing faith based book (and yes, I’m sorry to recommend a book based on what was said above…) titled “Am I Messing Up My Kids?” and I continue to feel grace more so with every page I read. The message from the book seems to be “here is how I messed up and here’s a Bible verse and prayer that reminds me that God gives me grace anyway.” I love it. I mess up with my kids and husband every day, but I try to be better the next time. They see the growth and yet I always seem to find another way to mess up. As long as God gives me Grace, I know I can keep going. A little preachy maybe, but I got this book after a few really demanding weeks where I felt like the worst mother EVER and the peace and grace has been well worth it. Keep doing what you are doing. If you and JD feel good about where you are at and Cash is happy and healthy, all is well. I am sure you are both doing a great job because you care enough to think about what you do! Miss you all, but we think of you often!

  4. Nichole says:

    Erin, what the perfect timing for this post. I have really been struggling at times with Liam and wondering if I am doing it “right.” I have only been a mom for 9 weeks and 3 days and I need to remember that sometimes. But it is hard to do that when he is crying and won’t sleep and I have everyone telling me what I should do when even though I can’t fix it at the moment I know it wouldn’t work for him. I actually had someone tell me to put him in front of the TV! I catch myself comparing myself to other mothers and feel like I am not as successful as I hoped or I say why can’t I do it like them. Right now my big struggle is figuring out how to help Liam sleep better. Both during the day and night. I LOVE Liam but I don’t want to have to rock him for 30+ min to sleep during naps and at night. I also don’t want to let him cry forever either. I got a book on healthy sleep habits and all that did was stress me out! He is only sleeping 8ish hours at night and I can tell it isn’t enough for him. Advice?!

    I love staying at home with him and feel very blessed to do so. But do you ever feel like because you stay home more things should be getting done? I feel like I can barely get myself in the shower some days! Ben is great about not expecting a lot since Liam is still little but I hear other moms say they always have their house clean for when their husbands get home, things put away, dinner starting etc. I try to do it all then end up getting upset at myself for not getting to it all. Then on top of everything else I still cry when I try to put on clothes. NO ONE told me I need pre-prego, prego, post-prego, and nursing clothes!! None of my tops fit me bc my chest is so big, my tummy is still 10lbs too chubby for jeans (hello muffin top!) Yikes! Oh, and little did I know that motherhood also = ADD! I cannot keep on one subject when I have conversations. When I start a project (cleaning etc) at home I don’t finish it bc I go on to three other things too. As you can tell from my post I definitely am all over the place! Thanks for your blog, miss you!! Love, Nichole

  5. Yes, this is a touchy subject! I used to be the kind of person that didn’t voice my opinions. But after raising two children and surviving cancer, I no longer apologize for having an opinion. Having an opinion is not the same as judging people. People feel they are being judged because they are unsure of themselves and the choices they make.
    I read this post after your latest post. I commented on your latest post; actually it was more of a letter, or documentary, really. I’ve calmed down now. It’s all good.
    As a young mother I was in your shoes. I wondered why the working moms seemed to be angry with me for choosing to stay at home. They said things to me like,”well, YOU can afford to stay home.” And, ” I can’t be satisfied just staying at home, I need MORE.” To help me out, a friend suggested I read a book, called Home by Choice. It helped me to see the value in my choice. I came to realize that my “choice,” without even saying anything, caused some other mothers to feel badly about their own choices. I have grown passionate about this topic, because I can actually see the good it did in my own children’s lives. One of my “missions” in life is to tell women they can be happy as stay at home moms. At first, I didn’t think I could be happy staying at home to raise my children. I think most women would stay at home, if they could get around the politics of it. The family was designed in such a way, and the roles that men and women play in the family, is a unique and beautiful thing. That sounds narrow minded, I know, but science does back this up. As an “older” mother, I see what has happened in society since I was a child. I am very sad at what I see. Mothers left home during world war 2 to work for the absent men. After a while that became the norm. Women no longer see their value in the home. I worry about our country and the path it is taking. I am working now, I started very part time when my kids were in grade school. If women could get past what society says, and follow their hearts, and husbands get behind their wives, then many families could work out the finances. Sorry for getting on my soap box. Feel free to delete these “letters.” : D

  6. Great thoughts Erin. Cass and I totally understand this. We have heard plenty of advice and at the same time talked about how other parents are doing things differently and we feel like we are continually asking ourselves, “Our we doing the “right” thing?” I think this is normal and healthy for parents. I think it is good to be thinking about what is best for your family and for your kids and I don’t think it necessarily means you lack confidence.

    It is also natural to feel like a bad parent. I don’t think this can be avoided as a parent. We all have moments where we question ourselves and our choices and unfortunately as humans we are naturally prone to comparitive thinking, whether it is ourselves, our parenting, our jobs, or other things. We have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others to try and measure up or judge where we are relative to someone else. This I think is unhealthy. Decide what is right for your family and what you can do and set goals for your family. Avoid comparing your parenting or your kids development with those of others. There will always be some child more “advanced” and some child that is not. One of the people commenting said it right when they mentioned that every child and every family is different.

    To Nichole: Do not stress too much about the sleep thing. My kids, we have three slept around 8 to 10 hours a night and never more. We hear some parents talk about how their kids sleep 12 hours straight. Must be nice. My kids have never done that. Things you might try is always say a word to associate with going to bed for your child before you put them down. My wife and I did this with our third child. We say night night. It didn’t start this way, but once he made the connection usually we can take Darin our youngest upstairs and tell him it is night night time and we can set him down in the crib and he snuggles his blanket and does not cry.

    This was not the case for our Twins who are now 3 1/2 years old. It seems like I always had to rock them to sleep and then do the whole tricky, sneaky, set them down as slow and quietly as possible while holding your breath while you slip your arm out from under their neck, hoping they do not stir and start crying.

    The word association with bedtime will not work right away, but maybe after some time of snuggling him to sleep and using the word association trick he might come around to letting you put him to bed easier. With the twins we had to finally let them cry it out for our own sanity. The first night was the toughest. It took 45 minutes and it was torture for me. I think I drove my wife crazy as I asked her how long it had been every 5 minutes. The next night it took 10 minutes and after that it was pretty smooth most of the time. Good luck though. I hope you can figure it out. It is not easy figuring out a bedtime routine and nap routine that works. It takes experimenting.

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