Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Things Aren't As They Seem

I was reading a forum where mothers were discussing how they dealt with rude comments made about their parenting and lifestyle choices.  Helping each other deal with people who made comments about things such as co-sleeping, breastfeeding, being stay at home moms, living frugally so they could remain stay at home moms, etc.  I had originally clicked the link to discuss my own experiences dealing with others who had made their opinions known about the choices we had made raising our family.  But then I started to look at the list of different comments, all stating different scenarios and conversations it hit me like a ton of bricks and I cringed: I have been guilty of some of these thoughtless comments, not necessarily always saying them aloud but thinking them.  What had originally started with my venting about the wrong committed against me, made me realize the wrong I had committed against others, even if only in my heart.

            Before my dear daughter was born, I knew I was going to breastfeed.  It was something that was drilled into me from my parents, to grandparents, and friends who already had lots of experience nursing (not to mention every baby book and doctor I came in contact with).  I of course did my own research and found that it was recommended and is the gold standard, but one thing that stood out in my mind was the AAP’s recommendation to nurse up to one year and then as long mutually desired after the first birthday.  As long as mutually desired?  I also had found lots of blogs and websites that promoted nursing until the child weans naturally and mothers sharing about nursing toddlers.  I was miffed.  So I started to ask close friends and family, just to make sure I hadn’t stumbled onto some kind of outspoken group of nursing activists. As luck would have it I have a lot of wonderful influences that shared their knowledge and I found that quite a few of them had also nursed until their babies were around age two.  But at the time I couldn’t appreciate it, it wasn’t until Muffin arrived that I understood why.  I actually said aloud “I can’t imagine nursing a toddler, that would be weird, once they can walk around?  I don’t think so.”  And wouldn’t you know it, after Muffin hit her first birthday I was still nursing.  And I’m still nursing her today, at fifteen months old. 

            You see, what I didn’t understand at the time was I really couldn’t possibly know until I was there.  It was easy for me to make that comment because I wasn’t looking at it through the eyes of a mother.  Your baby is always your baby.  And now I look back and kick myself for making that statement, I was clueless.  As educated as I had made myself on the subject, I lacked the experience.

            That got the wheels turning in my head.  When else have I had these naive notions?  How careless to quickly label situations and the people living in them.  If I am to remain authentic, I have to admit guilt.  In the past, before becoming a mom, even before becoming a wife, I know with certainty that I have made comments that are in complete contradiction to the way I have chosen to live my life and the path God has laid out.  We can’t assume to know answers or solutions from the outside looking in. 

“Peak performers see the ability to manage change as a necessity in fulfilling their missions” Charles Garfield
I hope that by changing the way I assess situations and others, will better help me live to fulfill His mission.

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