Friday, April 6, 2007

The Mom I Have Always Laughed At

I'm not sure when it happened. It might have happened the moment I first held my son in my arms...or maybe it happened little by little over time--but I have definitely become the mom I have always laughed at. How did this happen? I spent YEARS raising other people's children. I went to college to learn to teach elementary students. I read books on child-rearing and surfed the web. The mothers of the children I took care of even came to me for advice...and thinking I knew all there was to know, I gave it readily. Can you believe that? I was a young woman who had never had children--giving advice to REAL moms about their REAL children based on what I'd heard and seen and read. I hate people who do that to me now!! I didn't know then what I know now: You have to have a child before you know how to raise one. Even then, there is no cookie-cutter way to parent--and Not much room for advice-giving.
Back in the child-free days of baby-sitting of which I spoke, I remember telling the moms to practice the "Cry-It-Out" method. When they were away at work, I practiced it for them. "Be persistent," I'd say. "It'll eventually work." Would you believe that from day one with my son, we have been a co-sleeping family, happily nestling together in our family bed night-after night-after controversial night? Yes, it's true! I never saw it coming.
Would you also believe that even though I used to be uncomfortable just being in the presence of a breastfeeding mom--I am now the biggest "on-the-soap-box-breastfeeding-advocate" there is! I don't just talk the talk! I exclusively breastfed my son for almost the first year of his life, no bottles or pacifiers. He will be two in May and still happily breastfeeds at least once a day. We used to eat fast food on a fairly regular basis. Now that we have a son who eats pretty much what we do, not only do my husband and I not eat fast food, we try very hard to eat mostly natural and organic foods. We don't usually have anything with high fructose corn syrup or BHT in our house and try to avoid trans fatty acids.
And of course we cannot forget the vaccination issue! I never even thought for a moment to not vaccinate our child. I was vaccinated and so were all of my siblings, cousins, neighbors...(you get the point). All I knew was you have baby...vaccinate baby. Then I had a baby and that idea vanished with all of the others I had racked up pre-motherhood. The hospital gave our baby a Hepatitis B shot without our permission right after he was born, which sent my husband and I into major research mode. To make a long story short, we read just about everything we could find about the pros and cons of vaccinating and decided in the beginning to wait a few months to vaccinate our son. Months turned into a year and a year has become almost two.
To sum it all up, my little boy is an unvaccinated, breastfed toddler (movie theater scream here!!) who eats organically by day and sleeps with his parents every night. Let the comments roll! Join the ranks of disapproving voices that have surrounded us since May 22, 2005 and tell me how weird I am...because I am indeed the mom I have always laughed at. :o) I am passionate about being a parent! It has changed my whole existence the way everyone warned...but the part I didn't expect is: I don't mind one bit! And Strangely, I didn't have to practice to be who I am. I didn't learn how to be this way by studying a book or from an image on t.v. It just turns out this is who I am. I have lost friends since I had my son and the dynamic in our extended family has changed immensely. Even though it's been hard along the way, I have never been happier or felt more fulfilled than I do right now.
How I wish I hadn't been so quick to judge such loving, concerned mothers in the past! Eveything comes full circle in this life, doesn't it?


Sharon said...

I'm so glad you have a blog now!
Excellent post! :)
I'm lucky to know you in real life, and KNOW that you're a great mom. But even if I didn't, your post shows so much how you love your son.

Isn't it amazing how we become the people we never thought we'd become? I remember being pregnant the first time, declaring I would stop breastfeeding the moment the first tooth popped through. (as if that's fair to the baby!) And then it was over 10 months after that my "baby" practically self-weaned!

Welcome to the blogosphere!
I look forward to reading more posts.

Christine M said...

And Jen, he's only two! I'm sure there are many more surprises waiting for you as he grows. It's true that nothing teaches like experience.

I look forward to reading your posts in the future.

Kim said...

Hi! I've been a reader of Sharon's blog for some time now and thought I'd pop over to say hello! It's so I read that post, I couldn't help thinking that I could have written it myself, word for word! I, too, was a nanny for many years pre-babyhood, and thought I had it all figured out...I had everything planned before my son arrived 4 years ago! Then as soon as he was born, I officially began my journey into attachment parenting and have never looked back. Like you, we co-sleep, exclusively breastfeed (he weaned at 2 years, 9 months while I was pregnant with his sister, who has now been bf-ing for 8 months and will most likely continue for a few more YEARS!), don't vax, have converted our diet to include mostly natural and organic foods (the kids and I are also vegetarians), and we practice very gentle discipline...we've also chosen to homeschool! Everything I thought I'd never do...I've done, and quite passionately at that! Our choices have also caused many raised eyebrows within our families and among friends, but we're lucky to have their support at this point (for the most part!) but we still continue to be the "hippie family" in our circle! I have yet to really find friendship and support with other like minded moms (except for here in the blogosphere!) so I know how hard that can be...even when you know you're doing the best for your child.

Anyways, sorry for rambling...just wanted to say welcome, and I hope to read more soon!