Ending the cycle of judgment

One of the aspects of parenting that I have struggled with the most is the judgments. Sitting in a room full of people who you know think you should be doing something different with your child is not an easy thing to do. Everyone has their opinions and their beliefs when it comes to taking care of babies and raising children. I know I was warned, that other parents face the same harsh criticism and that I alone have been guilty of passing judgment however that didn’t make it any easier for me to swallow.

There has never been anything as important to me or where I have taken more pride than motherhood yet at the same time I felt insecure especially with my first. At times I feel unsure of myself and facing the judgment of others has always made me anxious.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about why we judge others. Especially as mothers. Why as mothers, do we ever allow ourselves to cause another mother to question herself in such a way when we know how horribly isolating that can make you feel? Don’t we realize how dangerous it is to judge? How quickly that could be you? You never know what the future holds for you or your children be careful of your judgments because it could come back to bite you.

I’ve come to the realization that most of our scrutiny stems from our own feelings of inadequacy. If you are a parent you know that crippling feeling that you are messing up, that you aren’t being the parent you should be. We have all been there. Agonizing over your choice to formula feed rather than breastfeed could have caused inner turmoil. Maybe you raised your voice at your child because he was dilly dallying when you were already late for work or perhaps you rushed through bedtime stories because you just needed some time by yourself. You aren’t alone. We all do things that cause us to feel shame, guilt and like we are failing, even when some of those decisions are right for your family. These feelings wage a war in our hearts, in our souls and when we can’t own our uncertainties we lose the battle and the war spills outward. Our judgment of other mothers become our weapons to defend ourselves, to ease our own tensions.

Once you stop beating yourself up over your decisions it’s much easier to be accepting of other’s differences. I’ve recently been referring often to the conference I attended, Blissdom Canada, where I heard a lot about kindness. Judging someone else for walking their own path is not being kind and it will not ease my mind over the mistakes that I make myself. I have made a promise to myself that I will be as kind as I can possibly be. I will not allow anyone else’s actions impact mine. I will strive every day to be the best person that I can be.

Since becoming a parent I have become much more accepting. We are all walking our own path. What works for me may not work for you and that’s ok. I may even vehemently disagree with you on something yet I still can recognize that does not make me a better parent. I make my decisions based on what is best for my children, what is best for my family. I assume you do the same thing. We are all just trying our best to be the best parent we can be and owning our shortcomings and mistakes actually make us better parents in the end. This is a daunting task we are facing and it is much easier to succeed if we have support. Don’t make that job tougher for someone by kicking them when they are already down. Let’s make a promise to ourselves to try every day to be a kind and supportive person and I bet our journey through motherhood will become even sweeter than it already is.

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The scent of a baby

I held a baby today. A week old baby. All sleepy and warm and cozy in my arms. On the drive over all I thought to myself was “this is going to make me want another baby so badly”. Mr C. and I have not been able to come to a final decision in regards to adding to our family. We flip-flop and go back and forth, usually ending up on opposite sides. Just when I think I’ve made up my mind that I’m over my baby days, Mr. C. decides he wants to go for number 3. When my heart makes the switch and I’ve warmed myself to the idea of a new little one Mr. C. huffs that he’s too old to do this again and declares he’s done!

I thought the moment I laid eyes on this new precious little bundle my uterus was going to skip a beat. She is beautiful and peaceful and pure perfection. She felt so warm and angelic in my arms. It’s been a while since I’ve held a baby that new and it felt so natural. She smelled heavenly! Without a doubt my favourite thing about babies is their smell. I used to sniff my babies like a wild dog. Their little heads, their faces, their toes, they just smell magnificent. I took in her powdery scent and my heart swelled a little.

Yet despite all of this, it seems as though meeting this new precious addition to our family may have actually had a completely different effect on me and solidified in my mind that my family is complete.

It reminded me that life with a new baby can be difficult. Sleepless nights and constant breastfeeding make your life revolve around this new addition. Breastfeeding did not come easy to me and did cause me a lot of stress and confusion. You can read about my experience here http://wp.me/p1oMIA-7f.

Planning your day around nap times and nursing schedules limits when you can do things and where you can go.

I realized that I will never again have the magic of a first baby. Our lives are different now, adding a new baby to our family would change the dynamics of our day-to-day life. Realistically it would probably be more chaotic than peaceful.

While looking in this new baby’s eyes I realized that I am happy with my family just as it is. My children are perfect and healthy, my husband is wonderful. I don’t know if I want to change what we have right now. Adding a new baby to our lives would definitely take my focus away from Mr.T. and Ms. J for at least the first little bit.

Saying goodbye to my kids babyhood has been very difficult for me but I’m almost out of it. Ms. J is going to be 3!! I blinked my eyes and my kids grew up. We are in a place that doesn’t include diapers, naps are no longer an absolute necessity, nursing is long gone. We are able to go on day trips and longer trips without huge amounts of fuss. We can play together. WE go on bike rides to the park and play soccer. We paint and bake together. Movie nights are great now that the kids are old enough to stay still. Watching the wonder in my little one’s eyes has given Christmas its magic back. There is so much joy to be found in my children that I think I can let their baby selves go.

I’m still not ready to close the door on the possibility of more babies for good. You never know what life has in store for you. If I’m meant to have another baby my love will multiply and grow. Ms. J. and Mr. T. will love having a baby around. If that’s the path I’m meant to take.

Meeting the addition to our family made me think it might just be time for me to pass on the baby making torch. I may have to get my baby fix through friends and family. My days may be over but I think I’m ready to move on to the next stage of our lives. I look forward to building our wonderful family memories and spending as many moments as I can with my two little blessings.

Bittersweet moments

My life as a mother is full of bittersweet moments. As I watch my children grow up and learn new things my heart swells with pride. They amaze me each day with all of the things they are capable of. This past weekend I learned that Mr. T. is capable of playing catch. I have been fully aware of the fact that he is very athletic and loves sports but I always just kind of assumed that he was too young to put on a baseball glove and actually catch a ball. Yet this weekend we went on a picnic and Mr.T. played catch with some boys that are a few years older. I sat back and watched him play with these boys and it hit me with a shocking thud to my heart that his baby days are gone.

We then returned home where we moved Ms. J from a crib to a bed. How did this happen? When did this happen? While my heart did a little flutter as I watched her sleeping so peacefully in her big girl bed, my eyes filled with tears. It’s official she’s not a baby anymore! She is a full-blown toddler. She can talk to me, we chat non stop. She not only wants to do everything herself but she is capable of doing so much herself. We took down that crib, a part of me feeling such joy that my little lady is moving up in her little world and the other side of me wanting to keep the crib as is for just a little while longer. How much longer can I get away with keeping her my baby?

All of these shocking realizations are pulling at my heart. I do not have a baby in my home anymore! Babies have taken up pretty much every second of my life for the past 4 years. It seems as though almost every thought I had, every action I took, every decision I made somehow could be tied back to a baby. My babies to be exact. That is no longer. They are turning into their own little people. Mr. T. doesn’t always want to cuddle anymore. He wipes away my kisses and doesn’t want me to carry him anymore. MS. J. hasn’t hit the stage where she doesn’t want my kisses anymore but she doesn’t need me the way she used to. She can wash her own hands and brush her own teeth thank you very much. Forget about picking her clothes or even putting them on, she’s fully capable of doing that herself, thank you very much.

My heart is hurting right now. I don’t think I’m ready for this. I think I need them to need me. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I sat diligently by Mr. T’s incubator praying to whoever was listening to just make him better??? How is he now a big boy getting ready for school in September??? When did this happen? Didn’t I just spend last night begging Ms. J. to please sleep, hoping that she would go longer than 2 hours before she needed to be nursed again? If that were true, how is she telling me that she wants pasta for dinner tonight?

I’m having a hard time with this. I am beginning to grasp the fact that this very well be it for me and babies. While we haven’t fully decided if we are going to add to our brood or not, I know that there is a chance that I may never have another baby in my home. I miss it. I know when I was in it I couldn’t wait until my babies slept through the night or ate solids. Here we are having met those milestones and a million others and what I wouldn’t give to have that back, even for just a day.

My heart is pained, my soul is longing for that pull that comes only from your baby crying out for you. That smell, when you sniff the tops of their heads or for me their entire beings. I could smell them forever. The gentle calm that comes over you when your baby is wrapped tightly in your arms, snuggled up against you as though they are simply an extension of your own body. The crushing adoration that takes over your entire being when they wrap their little finger around yours. The explosion of love you experience when your eyes meet. How can this be over?

As I said, it is an utterly bittersweet moment for me. I am heartsick at the thought of losing my babies but am overjoyed at the thought of watching them grow into even more beautiful adults. Experiencing their first day of school, their first soccer game and/or dance class. Watching them learn new things, master new skills and explore their world is so amazing. I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to not only watch a human being develop but to play a role in helping that baby grow into a kind, loving, gentle and constructive adult.

With tears in my eyes and joy in my heart I will bid farewell to my babies and welcome two wonderful little people into my life. Those baby days are gone but never forgotten. And I now have the rest of my life to experience with them the rest of the journey through their life. It is a different beauty but is just as magnificent.

Even as I write this Ms. J wants ‘1 more cuddle mummy’…maybe I can squeeze in a few more moments of babyhood whenever I can? Even if just for 1 more cuddle.