For all the parents who either don’t have the time to debate whether or not their co-sleeping is appropriate, because they’re too busy getting their kids to bed and working and living, or who are trying not to care what the outside world thinks and feels of their very personal choices, I feel you.
I, too, co-sleep, breastfed both of my children as toddlers, feed my kids both “kid food” and also cook with them. I sometimes write about these various aspects of my life as a parent, not usually to defend or argue my choices, so much as to share them for the one basic reason that I love reading other writers’ “mommy blogs” because I feel both less alone and comforted that so many other parents go through my experiences, even if these days I rarely have discussions with friends outside of Facebook, or the sort of conversations that look more like “one sentence to my friend and two sentences to my children” while my kids play and we chat.
In many ways it’s glorious we live in a world that sees worth in debating our children’s welfare, and also our own. I’ve written, for instance, about my firm belief that self-care is a must when being a stay-at-home mom, and also that I’m semi-okay with my relationship with my husband taking a kind of backseat, even if it’s less of a choice and more of the honest reality of parenting two young daughters together.
But there comes a point when our arguing about working moms or stay-at-home ones, or if kissing our children is appropriate, or if dads should be naked with their kids, becomes what’s offensive.
My husband and I are naked with our kids around. We’re not being gross, we’re just, you know, getting dressed, and cleaning ourselves and sometimes even taking baths with our kids. Does this negate the sad fact that child abuse happens? Of course not.
I kiss my daughters on the lips all the time; that Victoria Beckham came under fire doing exactly this with her daughter only came to my attention when others defended her. Is there a point when our defenses only serve to fuel an obviously unnecessary fire?
At what point do we recognize that there are many parenting styles, cultures, values, and sheer differences in kids themselves that affect these parenting styles, making them unique but not really worthy of fighting about?
My own two kids are about four years apart. They share many of the same features, a lot of the same mannerisms, and they have several armloads of things that are nothing in common. The foods they liked as babies, when I began mushing up and nourishing them with my cooking in addition to my breasts, could not have been more dissimilar. So many things about them force me to continually remember I’m not raising two cookie cutter kids, even if they are raised by the same parents, albeit surely changed in four years and on and on as we grow as people, ensuring our kids aren’t always being parented under the “same” mom and dad. How hard is it to comprehend that because something works or doesn’t work in our lives, that it may or may not work for someone else?
Debate is good. Communication is great. Thinking, and particularly questioning, standards and stubborn beliefs is beneficial and healthy for society. Yet there’s a not so fine line where our opinions of how others are living stop mattering.
Why should I care if another mom doesn’t choose breastfeeding? Her child is growing, and is healthy and loved. Could I argue the merits of breastfeeding and the reasons why I chose it? Yes. But let’s face it. This mom already knows. That information is out there. My opinions aren’t wanted, and they aren’t new or influential.
As a parent in our modern culture, I’m as concerned with teaching my two white kids that black lives matter as I am the alphabet. In teaching my white kids that black lives matter am I saying that white lives don’t—that their lives don’t? Obviously not. But parents are masters of knowing that we need to pick our battles. We need to make better choices about what conversations need our voices, and which ones really don’t. Because, at the end of the day, moms and dads are putting our hearts to bed when we kiss our children goodnight. We’re working each day to be good parents and to make the best choices for our families. We’re all trying. Most of us really are.
And I am trying. I’m trying to not collapse after a long day and put boxed food on the table. Instead, my husband and I force ourselves to cook healthy meals—most of the time. There are definitely evenings when speed and ease are bigger factors than how many servings of fruits and vegetables I offered my kids today. Does that make me a bad mom?
Because the honest truth is that I love my kids. I love my husband. I love myself. I love so many people outside of my little family, both extended friends and family and people in general I’ve never met but share this planet with. And still, on a descent handful of days, I’m trying to survive, live and enjoy this process as much as possible.
Having little kids is exhausting at worst and filled with staggering amounts of love at best. There are a lot of under-eye circles involved, sure, but the love is always there. Always. That includes the love for myself.
Maybe if we spent more time questioning our own choices and lifestyle we would find significantly less energy to spend dissecting someone else’s. Maybe if we focused more on the living part, and less on the evaluating and judging part, we would enjoy it all more and be less bitter and critical. Maybe we’d find more acceptance. Maybe we’d see that there are so many beautiful parts of life in addition to the sadness making story headlines.