A great article about how to be gentle with yourself and how destructive guilt can be to your emotional well being—except for the end:
And we should no more be dousing ourselves with guilt than we should be criticizing others who are trying to live their best possible life. As a holistic parent, it’s easy to get on your soapbox about everything from your non-toxic nursery and natural childbirth to living TV-free and avoiding junk food. But every person has a unique set of circumstances to manage and their choices may be optimal for them – at that moment in time. That does not mean we should be quiet. Raising awareness is essential to producing healthful change but doing so with positive intention and kindness goes further than with criticism. Help someone make a change for the better – don’t shout them down for failing to do so. Empower people and they will flourish. Shower them with guilt and they will wither.”
At first glance, it sounds really nice but after I re-read it a couple of times it seemed like what they were saying was: stand on your soap box all you want, but speak nicely when you judge other mommies.
I personally think that the whole culture of mommy guilt we have going is partially based on the fear of how other mamas might judge us. Guilt usually comes about because of a break committed against certain mores in society, whether it is society at large, or the society of your book club.
When I went to a mother-baby book club in my community, all the other moms nursed. The cold frozen stares of shock when I whipped out my bottle of formula….Obviously, I had violated some kind of social rule in their strict little society. My son had reflux at the time (common in preemies) and threw up all over me. Not one other mama offered to help. In fact, they kind of ignored me. I went off to the bathroom to clean me and Gabriel up and spent the rest of the time in the mother’s lounge feeding him.
Not one mom came to check up on us. This made me feel guilty because even though he was an infant at the time, it felt like my decision to bottle feed was costing him socially. Like I’d made this selfish decision that was already making him a baby outcast at our local indoor play space.
The real reason I stopped nursing was because I take pretty strong medication for my depression and anxiety. I know you can nurse on zoloft and if it worked for me, I’d gladly take it. It doesn’t. I need something stronger and what I need hasn’t been proven safe with nursing. Breast is best, except when it is full of chemicals.
That said…I know that nursing moms go through similar experiences when they have to feed their babies in public. There are a lot of angry freaks out there who think it is okay to harass moms for feeding their infants with their breasts. I can see how this might make nursing moms defensive about breastfeeding, because they’ve been publicly shamed by others for violating a stupid social more that says breasts are sexual and must be covered at all costs.
Anyhow, my support of breastfeeding moms’ rights doesn’t seem to go both ways. Formula feeding moms are looked down on as ignorant, selfish, or lazy. There doesn’t seem to be any interest in raising up moms who have no choice but to give their babies formula as fitting in with the holistic moms club.