Rules. Some people are definite rule followers. (Me.) Some people believe all rules are meant to be broken. Or at least bent a little. (Daddy Darnell)
When I became a mom I quickly realized there were SO. MANY. RULES. And for a rule follower like me, it could be so stressful.
Bye stress. Bye guilt. Bye shame. I have no time for that shit.
So today I am breaking down some of the mom rules and how I feel about them. Prep yourself.
I firmly believe that you should do what is best for your baby, even at the expense of yourself sometimes. That’s part of the deal as a parent. However, I also firmly believe that a stressed mom, a mom with anxiety, a mom with anger, a mom that just can’t handle anymore judgement, is not what is best for baby. Mom’s sanity matters.
Let’s just start with WHEN you get pregnant. Sure, it’s harder and involves more risk to carry a child later in life. But if you want to wait until you’re actually ready (not when society thinks you should be ready) then by all means, wait. If you decide that you don’t ever want to have kids, then don’t. See friends, it’s your life. Having a baby will COMPLETELY change that life. Want to have a baby when you’re 23? Cool, get ready, it’s a wild ride. Want to have a baby when you’re 33? Cool, get ready, it’s a wild ride. Want to have a baby when you’re 43? Cool, get ready, it’s a wild ride. Don’t want to ever have a baby? Cool, I get it, it’s a wild ride. Or just be like me wing it.
Next on my list of glorious rules, how much weight you gain while you’re pregnant. However, all women carry their babies different. I am a fairly small person and I carried my babies HUGE. I have a small torso, so those babies had nowhere else to go except out. I gained more weight than I planned with both. I also watched what I ate (while still enjoying a cupcake or five) and worked out at least 3 times a week with both babies. My body just knew what it needed in order to nourish my babies. People need to stop asking moms “When are you due?! You’re huge!?” or “Oh, you’re about to pop!” Get off people. Growing a human involves some extra weight. It’s a damn HUMAN in there.
Rule number 3: How you birth your baby. Y’all. No one gets to tell you what is best for your body. (Except maybe the doctor. Maybe.) I chose to have natural births, in a birth center setting. It was what was right for me and my family. I loved every single minute of prenatal care. I was obsessed with the beauty of the birth center. (Seriously though if they would let me move in, I would. It’s GORGEOUS.) Some women choose to have a natural birth at home. Some women choose to have a natural birth in a hospital setting. Some women choose to have a normal ol’ hospital birth with all the drugs. Some women choose to schedule their C-sections the moment they find out they are pregnant. Some women want a certain type of birth and things take an alternate route. None of these choices make you a bad mom. None. It’s your body, which means you’re in charge. Each choice has benefits to mama and baby. (Now don’t you guys even think for one second this means I am not an advocate of natural birth. I love it. It is powerful and primal and so good for baby. But bringing a baby into the world is powerful, no matter how you do it. You still grew a human.)
Rule number 4: Breast is Best. Most who know me will agree that I am a strong advocate of breastfeeding. Because science. That being said. Formula will not kill your baby. Formula will not make your baby stupid (I am a formula fed baby and somehow still managed a college degree. I am even putting these sentences together with almost no assistance.) I see the pressure to breastfeed your baby eating away at some moms. Again, the sanity of a mama can impact baby just as much as boob milk or cow milk can. I once asked in a Facebook group when nursing stay-at-home moms pumped milk. I knew I needed a date night with my husband and needed a minute away. (I loathe pumping. Hate it. Special shout out to pumping mamas.) One mom sweetly chimed in that a stay-at-home mom should never need to pump because there was no reason for her to EVER be away from baby. No date nights? Ever? No girl’s night out? No alone time while strolling the aisles of Target? Not going to work for me. I would be the ultimate crazy bitch. If that works for you, sweet. But not me. Judge me.
Once you start bottle feeding, there is a whole new world of judgement. As a non-formula mom I get stressed in the formula aisle. So many options. And bottles? Glass, plastic, long nipple, short nipple, anti-colic…stop. Just feed the babies.
Next up: Development and baby milestones. This is another one where, of course, science comes into play. But. Believe it or not, babies are human, and all humans are a little different. Babies crawl at different ages, walk at different ages, get teeth at different ages, gain weight at different paces, the list could go on forever. Baby comparison can be the death of all things fun about being a mom. My first baby was TINY for the first year of his life. He wore a 6 month onsie at his first birthday. Second baby? She is two months old today and already busting out of some 3 month old clothes. Same mom. Same boobs. Very different babies. If I give ANY advice to new moms, it is to remember that your baby is human. As long as they are moving forward in development, don’t fret. (Side note: My doctor never pressured me about Hixon’s weight being low. I appreciate that more than anything else he has done for us. If your baby is “low” in weight categories don’t feel pressured to formula feed if you don’t want to. Get a few opinions first.)
Babywearing. It is a life saver at times. But so is a stroller. Both are ok. Stroll on moms. Wear all the babies. Whatever works for you.
Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers. I consider myself a little on the hippie side and I had no desire to cloth diaper. None. I want to roll that shit up and throw it away. Judge me.
Screen time. I struggle with this one almost every day. Of course I want Hixon to grow and play and develop in all the best ways. We love playing outside. I also really love Moana and her power to get him to sit still. Why can Moana and Elsa get him to sit still and I can’t? They really are the best babysitters around.
To circumcise or not. Don’t even get me started on people telling me what was best for my son’s penis. “Won’t he wonder why his penis doesn’t match his dad’s?” Are we really talking about matching penises? Stop.
Healthy snacks or donuts? I tend to be picky about what Hixon eats. Sugar is a HUGE issue in our society. Feed my kid ice cream before bedtime and I’ll cut you. I also don’t ask for a full rundown of everything he ate while with grandparents. It’s called balance. Carrots are good for your kids. One hot Cheeto won’t kill them.
I am not even going to touch on if working or staying at home with your kids is best. There is soooo much judgement in this department. Again, humans are involved here. Not robots. All moms are different. All jobs are different. You do you.
Car seat forward facing or rear facing. Do your research. Don’t forward face your newborn. Don’t judge others choices. Unless their kid is in the trunk. Then judge all you want and call the police. (Did y’all know the Tesla has a five point harness seat in the trunk?! Like a station wagon. But better. Space car.)
Co sleeping until college or crib sleeping from day one? Sleep is the goal. Babies need sleep. Toddlers need sleep. Moms and dads need sleep. I don’t want any extra bodies in my bed. Not the babies, not the dogs, sometimes not even Daddy Darnell. I also have zero desire to walk to the other room to nurse a baby every two hours all damn night. So, she sleeps in our room. Some people have “family beds.” All the snuggles. Everyone is invited. You do you.
Pacifiers? Well, Hixon currently carries around two at all times. So there’s that. When I taught kindergarten, not one kid ever came in with a pacifier. Not one.
Vaccinate or not? People I am going to stop here. I won’t touch this one. For now.
Ultimately the goal as a parent is to not raise an asshole. However you do that. Crunchy mom? Cool. Helicopter mom? Cool. Free range mom? Cool. You do you.
Daddy Darnell and I have a saying: Everyone has their own freak flag. It’s your flag. Let it fly.