Moms are complete paradoxes.
On the one hand, we are confident that we’re doing a great job and have everything figured out. On the other hand, we often find ourselves staring in bewilderment at the child with a crayon in her mouth and wonder how we’re going to transform that into a well-adjusted, capable adult.
And yet, despite the fact that none of us really knows what she’s doing, we still feel compelled to give our unsolicited opinion:
“Have you tried Attachment Parenting? CIO? Cloth diapers? Goat’s milk? Soy milk? Almond milk? The Ferber Method? The 5 S’s? Coconut oil?” (Why is the answer always coconut oil?!)
Or—worse yet—we judge.
“Well, if she’d tried [insert fad method here], her kid would eat vegetables.”
“Maybe if her husband was more involved they wouldn’t be having a discipline problem.”
“See, that’s why we sleep trained.”
When we judge other moms, we sometimes forget that they’re just doing whatever it takes to make them feel like a better parent. Whether that’s bottle or breastfeeding, co-sleeping or CIO, cloth diapers or disposable. They’re just trying to be the best mom that they (not you, me, or anybody else) can be.
It’s About Priorities
Not too long ago, I was on the phone with a good friend of mine. She mentioned hearing someone say that they tried to breastfeed, but stopped because they “weren’t producing enough.” Now, my friend and I both know that it’s normal to feel like you’re not producing much. After the initial engorgement, there is a sudden drop in supply and pumping output isn’t an indication of how much milk your baby is getting. Based on what she and I know, 97% of women are able to breastfeed. It’s hard work at first, but totally doable.
My friend expressed that she was disappointed that this woman wasn’t able to reach her goal. But I saw things a little differently. I told her that what that woman was really saying (probably without realizing it) is, “I chose not to prioritize breastfeeding.” If she had (like my friend and I did), she would have done the research/taken the class/talked to a doctor or lactation consultant and found out that, yes, she could breastfeed. But she chose to prioritize something else: time, energy, sex life, etc.
So, yes, moms might say that your advice “doesn’t work” for them or their family, but what they really mean is that it’s not a priority for them or their family.
AND THAT’S OKAY. We don’t all prioritize the same things.
For example, I chose to prioritize sleep. As a result, my daughter sleeps very well (12 hours a night). It’s tempting for me to force my sleeping guidelines on those women who say their child is still waking up at night, but then I remember all the sleepless nights I went through early on to get to this point. I can’t blame those other moms for having different priorities when their babies were 4 months old. (And I didn’t “get out of” dealing with sleep problems. I just dealt with them at a different time.)
Another friend of mine has a baby the same age as Bear (they are literally 2 days apart), who says far more words and was walking at 9 months. Her family chose to prioritize language acquisition and motor skills and, as a result, they understand what she is asking for while I’m still smiling and nodding at whatever “deehhh?” is.
For all I know, she may be tempted to shake her head in pity at how few words my daughter is saying, but I don’t feel like I am suffering. I’m totally happy with my priorities. And I’m sure she’s just as happy about hers.
Whatever Keeps You Sane
Now, I could switch up my priorities any time I want. But I can’t imagine spending most of my time drilling Bear on her letters and colors. I would be simultaneously exhausted and bored out of my skull. I’m an introvert, so I love being able to recharge my batteries with a book while my daughter plays (and she is not lacking for mommy time, believe me). I’m sure my friend enjoys teaching her kid how to speak and recognize colors. Maybe you love sharing a bed with your 3-year-old so you can soak up all those baby cuddles while they still want them.
And here’s the real shocker: Maybe, just maybe, you and every other mom on the planet knows what works and what doesn’t work for their own family.
Maybe you’re not a “better mom” than they are. Maybe you just have more time. More money. More energy.
Maybe you lucked out and got easy kids.
It Takes a Village to Support a Mom
Parenting is a tough gig, and we need all the help and support we can get. So, rather than telling your mom tribe everything they are doing wrong, build them up. Tell them what they are doing right.
And try not to get upset when you hear the judgy advice. Cuz who knows? That coconut oil just might work.