I had to learn this myself, and now that my daughter’s a little over a year old, I’ve somewhat mastered my own mother’s mantra, “If you have nothing good to say, shut up.”
I have my share of opinionated friends, a chunk of them are new moms like myself who dish out parenting advice as if they’ve raised 10 kids with guidance from the almanac of life.
For a month, I only breastfed my child on one side due to complications with my left boob. I switched to formula eventually, knowing that it’s what will keep me sane, and help me get a grip on the crazy my life was turning into.
“If you waited just a bit longer your milk would have increased and the pain will eventually go away.”
Sure, says the mom who pumped a whopping four ounces the minute her baby was born, and continues to produce milk that can feed an orphanage. “You should ask for milk donations just until she reaches six months.” Sounds fantastic if said hyper-lactating demigod would offer her own extra milk.
Still, I went with my gut feel and followed my baby’s lead, and judging by her pretty much PMS-y attitude (oh, I can’t wait for the teenage years) and glass-breaking wails, attachment parenting worked wonders for her disposition. Of course, there had to be doubters.
“Naku, wag mo sanayin na binubuhat yan. She’ll be clingy for life. Kaya siya iyakin ‘cause sinanay sa buhat.”
I almost flipped out on that one because it came from someone whose child is barely a month older than mine!
But the realization didn’t hit me until a friend asked when to confront her officemate about some parenting style she doesn’t agree with. Without thought, I barked, “NEVER!” Who are we to judge what parenting style is right? Paediatricians alone vary their opinions and stick to the science they want to believe in.
In the end, I just couldn’t take these many painful iterations of, “You just didn’t try hard enough.”
Our struggles are different. Our babies are different. Unless the child is in harm’s way by some parenting irresponsibility, and I mean literal harm and not some speculative outcome yet to be proven as fact, then keep it to yourself.
But what I learned—and am learning—in navigating motherhood is that if we want to master it, it starts with shutting up our own negativity. I was once as judgmental as they are. I would even mutter comebacks under my breath, often soliciting for my husband’s side whenever I’m being whiny. But I knew I had to stop if I wanted real help.
We need to support each other, not judge our littlest quirks. Let’s constructively share beliefs, and simply agree to disagree when needed.
There’s already too many shaming issues in this world, and the most innate, beautiful thing that can happen to our lives, such as motherhood, should just be.