“Don’t be THAT mom.”
This phrase haunts me. I feel ashamed that I’ve said it; and I would be willing to bet there’s not a woman reading this who hasn’t said this to a mama and meant it to be sage wisdom.
I’ve been thinking on this phrase for months, after a dear friend and dedicated mama came to visit with her family. Her sweet almost-one-year-old often has trouble falling asleep; so to help her, they walk her in the stroller or take her on a drive. One night her husband loaded their baby in the car for a goodnight drive and she looked at me and said, “I was never going to be that mom.” And my heart felt so sad. This woman is THAT mom who doesn’t want her baby crying in her crib for hours. This woman is THAT mom who pumps 5 times a day in order to feed her baby nutritious, immunity-building breast milk for the first year of her life. This woman is THAT mom who loves her baby. I learned so much about being a mom from my friend that weekend.
Before becoming a mom, I said I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who takes her baby on a drive to help them fall asleep. Guess what? I’ve done this when Grace refuses her nap for 1.5 hours and I am about to pull my hair out.
I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who shamelessly breastfeeds her baby in public. Guess what? I refuse to cover my daughter’s head in public because her eating offends you. Guess what? It shouldn’t be the social norm that I need to leave a conversation or a social situation because my child needs to eat.
I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who babywears because their child doesn’t like to be put down. I’ve vacuumed the whole house with Grace in the carrier because she would not stop crying. Guess what? I love baby wearing. And Grace loves to be carried. So it’s a win-win.
I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who lets her baby sleep in her bed. Guess what? Grace sleeps in our bed [part of the night]! Oh the horror! And I bet you would be surprised at the number of people who bed share but keep it a family secret. And for those of you concerned: No I’m not afraid we’ll crush her. And guess what? I have been getting a full night’s sleep since 2 months. Sleep regression? What is that??
And just because Chris and I have chosen this parenting style for our family does not mean we think it’s for everyone. Because every baby is different, every mom is different and every family is different.
No 16 year-old is going to need dad to drive them around the block to fall asleep. No 18 year-old will want mom to carry them everywhere (and I think my back hurts NOW). No 20 year-old will want to share mom and dad’s bed. Every stage is a temporary season which brings new challenges, new joys and new judgements.
We should love THAT mom who is struggling with a nap schedule and exhausted from driving around town 3 times a day for hours. We should encourage THAT mom who is having anxiety about leaving her child for the first time. We should be patient with THAT mom who calls the pediatrician for every sneeze. And we should support THAT mom who doesn’t want to let her baby cry it out.
I’m THAT mom. The one you’ve warned other moms not to be. The one I’ve warned other moms not to be.
And I’m a damn good one.