I have been thinking about this post for a long time. However, our computers have been down, and blogger is blocked at work now (I KNOW!), so it is just now coming to fruition.
Recently (and this is probably because I am spending too much time looking at internet forums and blogs and such), I have noticed a whole lot of mom on mom crime. No, I haven't seen mom's going at each other with machetes. However, it is almost worse. Moms just go at each other with these silly passive aggressive arguments over parenting and lifestyle choices. Not breastfeeding (or stopping breastfeeding too early)? If I were you, I wouldn't do that. DON'T YOU WANT THE BEST FOR YOUR BABY? Have you ever used a disposable diaper on your child? If I were you, I wouldn't do that. YOU COULD GIVE YOUR CHILD A RASH/ASTHMA/DEATH. Did you give your child the flu vaccine? If I were you, I wouldn't do that. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS REPORT LINKING VACCINES TO AUTISM/SCURVY/DEATH? You get the idea.
Parenting choices are just that--choices. We all make different ones. And no one goes out of their way to make a bad one. They make the choice that is the best for them at the given time. The reasons they make the choices may not be relevant to everyone's life, but then again, not everyone else is making the decision. I'll just be honest and weigh in on the three above quandries: I breastfeed, and I'm keeping at it, but at one year, I'm out like shout. I absolutely hate to pump--hate the break it forces in my day. Because of this, I understand why anyone would stop early. Me? I'm just keeping at it because I am damn stubborn. And because I love my 6:00 feeding with Al. That one feeding keeps me going. Yes, I also cloth diaper. Have I ever used disposables? Sure. There is a package of them up under my bed that someone gave us. I love that it is there because I know that if I just don't get around to washing diapers when I should, or if something happens, it is right there. I would use one without hesitation. Oh, and yes, I vaccinated the HELL out of my kids and myself (although Al wasn't old enough at the time to get the flu vaccines). I'm sorry, but I have had the flu, and it sucks. I don't want my kids to get it, I don't want them to give it to their baby sister, and if there is something I can do to prevent that, I'm on board. I don't put a lot of trust into modern medicine--I'll just be honest about that--but this is one instance where my desires outweighed the distrust. And no, you can't send me a pamphlet about vaccines that will make me reconsider, thankyouverymuch.
Another place that this mom on mom stuff leaks in is on weight and body image. As you know if you read the sporadic postings on here, I am losing weight. I am now about 8 pounds over my original goal weight and about half way in to my goal size. It has been a hard ride, but totally worth it. However, I have been treated rudely, been told that I must be having an affair, and had it intimated that I must not be spending enough time with my kids if I am losing weight "so quickly." I even overheard someone saying that I must be "anorexic" because I didn't eat an extra slice of pizza at a birthday party the other night. For one thing, if that is the case, I'm a pretty shitty anorexic, and a fat one at that. But that is beside the point. It is so strange--if you are a big girl (which I have been for the better part of 8 years), you get treated shittily by the outside world--SA's won't help you when you shop, you get unwanted tables in restaurants, etc. etc. But when you lose the weight, thinking you will make everyone happy, people get bitchy and all of a sudden you find yourself the butt of a joke. ONCE AGAIN.
And why did I make the choice to lose weight? Was it because I wanted to look like Jessica Alba? Well, yes and no. I would be lying if I said that wasn't at least part of what motivates me. But mostly it is health related. Obesity (and the problems associated with it) run in my family. My father has been heavy my entire life, and recently underwent gastric bypass surgery because his blood pressure was sky high and he had other associated heart problems. He has also had seven knee surgeries because of his weight. His mother is so obese that she is no longer able to get out of a chair in her living room. My mother (who is very thin because she keeps these things under control) has high cholestrol and runs 6 miles a day so that she will not have to go on medication for it. To be honest, I'm scared shitless of having these kinds of things. I don't want to let something go to the point that there has to be some kind of medical intervention when I originally could have taken care of the problem by laying off the ice cream for a while. And now that I have three kids, it seems rather selfish to eat the way I want and lead an inactive lifestyle that not only could force me to not see them grow up, but also give them eating/lifestyle issues of their own.
I will not say that losing weight has been easy. It has not. I have stood in front of my TV and yelled curses at Jillian Michaels many a time. But. It is the best thing I have ever done for myself. In fact, I now live with regret that I allowed myself to be fat for so long and that I hid behind excuse after excuse when I could have done something about it. I spent my wedding fat, my honeymoon fat, I graduated from college fat. I told myself that I was a "fit" fat person, that I could dress in a way to "flaunt my curves (yeah right)", but I was just lying to myself, and that angers me. I am mostly just happy now that I see what a positive impact this has been on my life and that I know that this is a change I have to make every day for the rest of my life. Mostly because I will not go back to the way I was. Never.
And even as strongly as I feel about my own health and weight issues, I do not think they are right for everyone. I would never tell someone they should lose weight or eat healthier or exercise or any of that. Never. That is their decision--they know what their life is like, they know what issues they have to overcome and they sure as hell don't need me to tell them about it. If they ask me something about it, I would be happy to tell them my favorite workout dvd's, what the best kind of yogurt is (nonfat Greek, plain with frozen blueberries FTW), websites you can go to track calories for free. But I would never force my ideas on them. Moreover, I would never make comments about someone's weight, no matter where they fall. Just as it is not ok to call someone a "chunk" or a "fatty," it is also not ok to call someone a "skinny bitch" or "anorexic." It is also not ok to say that someone's body is not "real"--as in "I'm a size 16--the size of a real woman. That's not a real body over there." Seriously? Does anyone else see the idiocy in that statement? We all have REAL bodies--I am certainly not made of rainbows and kitten dreams, thank you. Lord.
All I'm saying is that fat or thin, zaftig or skinny, crunchy or mainstream, parent or child-free--we all deserve respect and a life free of passive aggressive commenting. If you ever start to say (or type) the words "If I were you...", I would encourage you to stop and think about it. If you were that person, you wouldn't have the same insights, no, but you would still be able to make a decision that best benefits you. Would it be the best decision? Maybe not. But you would make it, and learn, and isn't that what we are all aiming for? I certainly hope so.