It was early on in my motherhood journey, and I was feeling helpless, frustrated, and overwhelmed that I didn’t know how to get my 6-month-old son to sleep. We had been to the pediatrician to make sure everything was good with him health-wise, and she offered advice with some by the book sleep methods.
At this point, we had tried those methods many times over, and we were still pulling our hair out due to lack of sleep. So, I did what any mother would do — I texted my group of mom friends and asked for their advice.
“Ladies, we’re losing our minds over here. Ollie won’t sleep more than two hours at a time, and the only thing that will help is constant breastfeeding. HELP!!”
While I don’t know for sure, I can guess with almost 99 percent accuracy that my actual text was very close to something like this. These moms were from all different stages – a new mom, a mom of a 10-month-old, and a mom of a 2-year-old. We all tried to help each other the best we could whenever someone sent a similar S.O.S text like mine.
As it usually happens in group texts, it only took a few minutes at most after I sent my text until a slew of responses started coming in.
New mom: “Sorry Laura, we’re in the same boat! I’ve surrendered to cluster feeding and embracing it – they’re only little for so long! Xoxo!”
Mom of a 10-month-old: “Been there! Try some cereal before bed – that helped our little one so much. I know it will for you too!”
Mom of a 2-year-old: “Let him cry it out! He’ll learn to soothe himself and be fine in a few days. Stay strong, you’ve got this!”
Such different responses, viewpoints, and opinions yet, all very valuable. This was one of the many moments where I learned that we are all very different mothers.
We love differently, learn differently, parent differently, and so much more. And this makes sense because simply put, we’re all different people — so, what would make us think that we would be or should be the same kind of mother?
I still consider myself a new mom, but as I talk to other newer moms, I hear stories about how they’ve received unsolicited advice, judgment, and comments from family, friends, and online followers about how they’ve chosen to mother their child. They sound scared, sad, and obviously judged for decisions they feel are best for their family. I do my best to offer them a bit of encouragement, suggest they become very selective with who they get advice from, and tell them to listen to their motherly intuition as much as possible.
There is a lot of criticism in the world around motherhood:
- Epidural or no epidural?
- C-section or vaginal birth?
- Breastfeed, exclusively pump, or formula feed?
- SNOO, crib, or bassinet?
- Sleep train or no sleep training?
- Purees or Baby Led Weaning?
The list truly does go on, but I’ll stop there for now. As moms, there are so many decisions we have to make on our parenthood journey; here’s why we should be embracing our differences rather than judging them.
1. We can learn a lot from one another
While you may not agree with what another mother is doing, there is probably still a lot that you can learn from her, whether it’s the resource she found on a specific topic, how she’s juggling motherhood and working, the courage it took to make a big decision, or maybe something else. Also, the lesson can come from not wanting to do what she chose to do, and that’s OK too!
2. We’re all just trying to figure it out
Let’s just be honest about the fact that no one really knows what they’re doing when it comes to parenthood. I remember being terrified the moment they handed my son to me for the first time because I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. Like I said above, we have so many things to think about and consider, and unfortunately, there isn’t a playbook for this kind of thing. So, when you’re talking to another mom or reading something online before you jump to judgment, consider what it was like when you were a mom in those early days. Try to have a little bit of compassion and find ways to celebrate moms even if their choices look a little different than yours.
3. There is no right or wrong, just what’s best for you
Listen, as long as your child is alive and safe, you’re doing a great job. You may find that there are things that work better for your family than others or that you feel strongly against one thing rather than another, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and they’re wrong or vice versa. When it comes to parenting, generally, there are no right or wrong answers as to how you do it — just what works for you or not.
4. We need to create a safe space for all moms
I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the group of moms to text, this online space within The Everymom, and my own mother to confide in while on this motherhood journey. We need more safe spaces for mothers (and fathers) to feel comfortable going to feel seen, heard, and understood. This country doesn’t make it easy for parents to be parents, and we’re all dealing with a lot of the same struggles — why make it harder by being judgmental?
Being a mother is equally as beautiful as it is challenging. We all know what it’s like to be up in the wee hours of the night, snuggling our babies and trying to give them the best life they can have. We will all stumble and fall; why not be the hand that picks another mom back up?