Monthly Archives: July 2012

True Choices and Banned Bags

There is a hullabaloo happening as hospitals all over the United States are “banning the bags”, basically saying that infant formula samples should not be handed out to each new mother in hospitals.

Words like “choice” are being thrown around.

Choice is what a mother chooses to do, what a mother wants to do, and what a mother sets out to do. Her choice is her initial goal. Statistics show us that most moms at most hospitals want to breastfeed, and that their breastfeeding goals are measured in months rather than in days.

Statistics also show that large numbers of those moms who have “made their choice” are unable to go through with their choice.  They crash headfirst into barriers, are sucked under by booby traps, are sabotaged by misinformation and a lack of support.

When a woman has a goal and is given a gift that lowers her chances of succeeding at that goal, that is not “choice”, that is sabotage.

If a woman pays a lot of money to go to a weight loss clinic where she is given gift bags full of sample sized candy bars and coupons for snack foods in a trendy little bag with a token nod to her goal in the form of an inexpensive food scale for counting calories.. That is not “choice” that is sabotage.

Hospitals are not banning formula, they are banning the practice of handing out gifts that undermine a choice that mom already made. Hopefully they are also handing meaningful support with follow-up options for moms that are struggling. Hopefully they are handing out meaningful expectations on how long it might take for mom and baby to get into a groove. Hopefully they are handing out the tools that moms need to follow through with their choice.

When mom has made the choice to formula feed, formula is still available. When mom or baby have a health condition that makes formula necessary.. Formula is still available. It is just treated differently and with the respect that it deserves as something that can save a baby’s life when needed rather than something that is handed out in pretty little bags to moms who said that they really don’t want to use it and they want to make breastfeeding work.

When formula is available to mothers who wish to formula feed and to mothers who need to formula feed, and when it is not being handed out to moms that do not wish to formula feed… Whose choice does that remove?

Look beyond the rhetoric. The ban on the bags doesn’t remove choice from anyone other than the formula marketing companies that want those bags on the nightstand of every single woman who struggles for a minute.

The ban of the bags, the push to make education and support readily available, and the public awareness campaigns that are happening are not intended to remove the choice of mothers. Rather, they are intended to chip away at the damage done by decades of overzealous formula marketing that has gone unchecked and that has sabotaged the efforts and wishes of many women in this country.

Choice happens when women have access to the education, the means, the knowledge and the support to make the decision that they feel is best. Choice does not happen when we shy away from providing education that might be seen as “judgy” of mothers who had their choice removed. Choice does not happen when free samples are given to moms that sabotage their efforts.

Statistics say that moms want to breastfeed. Statistics also say that most moms “fail”. How is it giving women a “choice” when we give them gifts that sabotage their chances rather than gifts that maximize them?

Choice is what a mother decides, not what she is pulled into by a free gift in a moment of self doubt.

Roll With the Punches

Dear Sons,

You have taught me how to roll with the punches. How to accept broken things offered up with tears, and turn them into discussions that somehow make you at ease with their broken-ness, or even delighted with the things that we can learn from something that otherwise hid its secrets. You have taught me to look outside of what I know and the words that I have for describing things. Both to you and to myself. You have taught me that the most perfect things in life are are complicated things.

Sometimes I am that mother caught in the middle of three very different children who need three very different things, and I’m forced to go through triage in the middle of a very public situation as I have no quick and easy escape since I’m a taker-of-public-transportation and have no car that I can flee to. But those moments teach me how to read each of you better, how to anticipate your needs better, how to cajole you, how to engage you in missions of distraction.

Sometimes I am that mother turning seventeen different shades of bright red when the waiter brings our food and you loudly declare “FART TREES! MY FARTS WILL BE SO STINKY” when you see the broccoli that came with your dinner. But I am also that mother whose kids are eating broccoli. (And the mother who will make a point of serving “fart trees” that precious first time that your first girlfriend comes to dinner. I promise she’ll find the stories cute. Plus I’m curious if your faces can turn as bright red as mine has.)

You have taught me a different sort of diplomacy that I might never have otherwise learned. You have taught me to listen to the words of someone whose goals are very different from mine, to try and understand the root of their desire to do something that I would never want to do, and to negotiate with someone so completely and totally illogical that it is very tempting to just pick them up and carry them somewhere else or to resort to the simple “DO WHAT I SAID”. (Which never works long-term.)

You have taught me how to go with the flow of things while laying building blocks for the things that I want you to someday understand. How to demonstrate the behavior that even I as an adult find difficult sometimes.

This week you both made me ridiculously proud.

I., at five and a half years old you listened to me calmly explain that Gramma had made you something new because she was excited to share a new food with you, and that when you yelled at her that you didn’t want it, you might have hurt her feelings.

You turned to her unprompted and said “I’m very sorry, Gramma. Thank you for making that for me, but I really don’t want it right now.”

A., at two years old you listened to me explain that your brother was upset because you turned off the TV show that he was watching. And you marched back into the room and said “I’m sorry, I.”

At five and two, you guys are learning how to do the things that adults have a hard time doing. Not by force, not by requirement, but by example that I confess I sometimes find difficult to provide. And at thirty-two I’m so very grateful for the example that you set for me in turn. I’m so very grateful how you teach me to let go of things that I’ve struggled to hold onto in the past.

Together we’re learning to roll with the punches.

Thank you.

<3 Mama

Not For Me, Not For You

I’ve seen a trend lately of people getting agitated over articles discussing how you will absolutely positively harm your child by ________. Fill in the blank with pretty much everything imaginable and once you’ve filled in all the blanks go back and find the antonym for every word that you’ve used and fill in the blanks again with all of those opposites.

Life is not so simple. Life is a balancing act. We should speak less about what others MUST do, and more about the reasons why certain things work for us, don’t work for us. We should talk about why something is FOR US or why something is NOT FOR US. But we should draw the line at saying “not for you”.

It is no better to say “You should not be feeding your baby formula” than it is to say “You should not nurse your baby in public.” It is no more right to say “You should never Cry It Out” than it is to say “You should not nurse your baby to sleep.”  There is an error in your statement. You used the word “you” and not the word “I”.  “I will not be feeding my baby formula”. “I will not be nursing in public”. “I will not use cry it out”. “I will not nurse my baby to sleep”.

Parents all filter information through their lives. They choose what fits, what doesn’t fit. They filter with their memories, their experiences, how their experiences colored them.

One parent who was spanked as a child will be a proponent of spanking because they see it as having been a positive influence in their lives.

Another parent who was spanked as a child will never raise a hand against their child because they see it as having been a negative influence in their lives.

One parent who understands the guidelines for safe co-sleeping will say “This is for me”. Another will say “I feel it would be dangerous for my child.”

One parent might feel that time outs put distance between her and her child, and another parent might feel that that space is necessary so that they both can cool down and address the situation from a place of calm.

Declaring that no one should ever be allowed to talk about anything ever is a bad solution. I recently had an eye-opening experience where I published a letter to my daughter on the subject of “Waiting It Out” and sleep training. Many people felt that it was helpful to them as they struggled with feelings of guilt over following their instincts. I also received some comments suggesting that my letter might make others feel guilt or sadness.

I ultimately decided to leave my letter as it was because it spoke about my filtering process, how I listened to what people told me, looked at my child, and did not see how it applied to her or to me.

I think that many in the attachment parenting communities get lost in their thoughts and discover things that feel deeply true to them based on their experiences with their own children within their own lives. And then other people in non-AP circles get lost in their experiences and find things that they feel deeply true to them based on their own experiences with their own children within their own lives. Then they all state the truths as they see them.

I think that we all need to pause and remember that just as our children are not exact replicas of us, no one else is. As attachment parents or gentle parents or peaceful parents or whatever labels we choose to use for ourselves, I think that we need to use the same ideas in our writing as we use them in our parenting. Would we portray our ideas as being such absolute truths if we were speaking to our own children? Or would we talk about our experiences and understand that their experiences might be different from ours?

We have all been upset or annoyed by articles of proponents of methods that differ from ours telling us that we will somehow damage our children if we don’t do something that just feels WRONG. I know that when I’m told that my daughter is manipulating me into picking her up at 3 months old, I raise an eyebrow.

People can learn through our positive stories and our positive words about the things that we find helpful. They can learn from positive example, or they can choose their own path which feels more right.

Speak your truths, but consider drawing the line at “Not for me” rather than “Not for you”.

 

I Am Not a Better Mother Than You.

I am not a  better mother than you. I am not a worse mother than you. I am a different mother than you in some ways, and the same mother as you in others.

We are different. We make different choices based on our lives, our needs, the needs of our child, our support systems, the number of children that we have, and the needs of our hearts.

I do not love your baby as much as you do, and you do not love mine as much as I do. It is impossible, because we are bonded to our children through having carried them, birthed them, sought them out to adopt them, held them near as soon as were able.

We can speak of our experiences, our wishes, our feelings, our dreams, our reasons. We can speak in happiness, in misery, of the things that we are confident in, and the things that we question.

My words on nurshable are meant to offer encouragement to those whose hearts are similar, not to critique those whose hearts are different or wound those whose lives make them make difficult decisions that I do not envy (but that I do respect).

You are the only one inside your head. You are the only one that knows your reasons for doing things. You are the one that knows the pain and responsibility of difficult choices.

An informed choice made out of love is never a bad choice. Do not take the guilt that others offer you. Do not find guilt in another’s joy. Quiet the voices of others, look at your life with honesty, see your circumstances clearly, understand what can and cannot be changed. Understand YOUR life the way no one else can. And make your choices with love.

The letters that I write on Nurshable are not meant to cause you pain. They may speak of things that are not attainable. I am sorry. I mourn many difficult choices that I was forced to make against my heart, even as I understand that they were necessary. I understand. Those choices do not make you a “bad mother”. They make you a wise woman who loved her baby SO much that understood that certain wishes of hers were things that needed to be let go.

I’m not a better mother than you. No one is a “better” mother than you. You are the parent that your child loves. You are the parent that your child needs. Make your choices with love. Find the beauty in them. Seek out the happiness, and feel it deeply. Do not focus on the things that you wish that you could do differently unless change is realistic and attainable without sacrificing something else that is more important.

Life is a juggling act for most. If we allow others to look over our shoulder and dictate how we juggle the balls, we will drop most of them. Listen to your heart, look at your life honestly, look at your child. Parent with love. You answer only to yourself, your partner, and your children.

Take your joy and your peace without robbing mine.

No informed decision made out of love is ever the wrong one.

A Heartfelt Thank You to Granola Babies

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Granola Babies for sponsoring this blog by purchasing ad space on the sidebar. Please check out their site and support a mom-owned business that supports other moms in the community as well.

I visited the Granola Babies website for the first time today and absolutely love how it helps shoppers by providing information about different product types (such as the different types of cloth diapers and how many you might need.. What the benefits of carriers are..) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the “rental” option for baby carriers where you can try a baby carrier without committing to buying one. I now know where I’ll be trying and then likely buying my Ergo in a few months when my daughter outgrows her stretchy wrap. :)

Thank you, Granola Babies, for being actively involved in parenting communities, and for your support.

This is Not About You

Dear Children,

I write you letters, but these letters are not about you as you are in the distant future, but what you are today and what I am today. I do not yet know who you will be, and while I can imagine and dream, my imagination is not all-encompassing. I wouldn’t want it to be. Part of the joy of having children is seeing them exceed your imagination. My favorite things about each of my children are the things that I was never able to imagine.

I write to you about breastfeeding, sleep, choices, my mothering of you.

You may make very different choices from the ones that I have made. You are not a clone of me. Your life will be different from mine. The things you read will be different from the things that I have read. The studies that you can pull from will be different from the studies of today. Your children will be as different from you as you are from me.

You may have different abilities than mine. Already I know one area in which your body does things better than mine. My ears are broken. Yours are perfect. You react to sounds that I have not heard since I was a child, since before I became deaf. Maybe you will be more graceful than me, maybe you’ll be more clumsy. Maybe you’ll discover musical talent, or maybe you will be as tone-deaf as I am. Maybe you’ll be an artist.

I don’t see the future beyond this: I love you. I will support you. I will delight in the things that you do well. When you seek out my advice, I will offer it, and when you do not, I will not. These letters to you are not my judgement of the mother or the father that you have yet to become. These letters are not a judgement of your future husband or wife. These letters to you are not a blueprint of the mother or father that I feel you must be. These letters are simply things that I wish to tell you someday. Things which may or may not be of use to you.

Maybe you’ll circumcise. Maybe you’ll formula feed. Maybe you’ll CIO. Maybe you’ll spank. Maybe you’ll exclusively pump. Maybe you’ll need a c-section. Maybe you’ll homeschool. Maybe you’ll be a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. Maybe you’ll be an atheist. Maybe you’ll be petite, or maybe you’ll be large. Maybe you’ll grow vegetables in the backyard the way I do, or maybe you’ll hate vegetables with a passion.

I do not know who you will be, what choices you will make, what type of a mother or father you will be, or if you will be a parent at all. Your life is YOUR life, as my life is mine. This is my turn to make the choices that I make. When your turn comes it will be your turn.

Please never feel judged by the ways in which I did things differently.

No one will ever love your children more than you and their other parent do. Not me, not your father, not your friends who do things differently.

If you learn better, do better. But no informed choice made with love is ever the “wrong” one. Guilt is the domain of people who make easy choices for reasons other than love or necessity. Anyone who offers you guilt offers you something of themselves rather than of you. You do not need to accept it.

You know your life, you know your children, you know the partner that your heart has chosen, you know the truth of your thoughts and your feelings. Nothing else matters. Do not take on the guilt that anyone else tries to offer.

Make your choices with love, and listen to what your heart says. Nothing else matters.

<3 Mama

The WIO (Wait It Out) Method of Sleep Training

(Please read this first: I Am Not A Better Mother Than You.)

Dear Daughter,

You are three months old, almost everyone agrees that you are too young for “sleep training”, “cry it out”, “Ferberization” and all those other methods of sleep training that the parenting circles buzz about. Others say that three months is plenty old enough. Everyone has their rules, their ages, their advice, their books, their suggestions.

With your oldest brother I became anxious and felt like I was doing “nothing” to help him learn to sleep. With you, I smile peacefully when offered advice about getting you to sleep. I know that I’m not doing “nothing”, I’m laying the foundation slowly and gently.

Chances are pretty good that you’re reading this as an adult and thinking “I love to sleep! Sleep feels awesome.” and snuggling under your covers hitting the snooze button repeatedly.

You’re at the infant stage where to be held is comfort. When I put you down and you cry I don’t k now why it is that you’re crying. I’m told that you “want to be held” and that you are “spoiled” and that “you need to learn to self soothe”.

The thing is.. Sometimes we want comfort because something bothers us. Sometimes we’re rocked by the waves of life and battered by stresses. Sometimes we cling to those we love because we seek solace in comfort. Sometimes we cry because of pain or discomfort but find peace and calm in the arms of someone that we are close to. This applies to adults who have all the words in the world to communicate their needs and to understand them. To adults who have had years to fine-tune their ability to self comfort.

Since you have no words, I do not know the meaning behind your cries. And since you are an infant, I do not choose to attribute malice or aforethought to your cries that soothe as soon as I pick you up. I do not view you as a cunning little creature that wishes to interfere with my life by insisting on being near me.

Maybe you have reflux that makes laying down painful. Maybe you have a belly ache. Maybe you are anxious because of a noise, or afraid of the dark. Maybe you simply do wish to be held because my arms are the safest and warmest place in your world. Maybe your instincts speak loudly to you in ways that you do not understand and you simply know that right now you need to be held in order to be calm.

I cannot think of any reason why I should feel okay letting you lay there screaming. Yes, I need sleep. Of course I need sleep. And I snatch that sleep where I can. Yes, I like sleep. I love sleep. I’ve acquired that taste for lazy days of lounging around in bed. Lazy days that I can’t remember the last of. I have words to vocalize these needs of mine. I have people that I can speak with, and I can even make a stab at  saying it eloquently. “I need sleep.” Sometimes I’m so tired that I could cry with that need for sleep.

I am grown. I am strong. I understand the passage of time and that THIS will pass. You will sleep. Your infancy is the briefest part of the brief time that you are a child in need of my arms.

I can wait it out so that you don’t have to cry it out.

I can wait until you have the words to explain your needs and until I can use my words to help you understand the deliciousness and safety of the dark warm place that is your bed in the night in your room in your home with mommy and daddy just a door away. I can rock with you in the dark and let my thoughts and dreams wander and savor the stinky sweet baby smell of your hair and feel the wakings spacing out and coming together as you grow through growth spurts and phases.

I put you down and smile at you in your bed as you stare up at the ceiling fan and smile. You learn that your bed is a safe place to be while awake. When you fuss or cry I pick you up and tell you “I know, you want to be held right now.” You learn that your bed is not a place where you are abandoned, but rather a place that you can happily be while awake.

I nurse you when you need to nurse, trusting you to know your needs and your hunger.

I smile at you and talk to you about how snuggly and warm your pajamas are. How sleepy and relaxed you look. I stroke your cheek and let you savor the sleepiness as you drift off feeling safe.

As you get older like your brothers have, I will do these same things. I will stretch things out and treat bedtime with no urgency or anxiety. I will talk to you as I have to them about relaxing every bit of your body and how your bed is so safe and warm and snuggly and how you can feel the sleepiness in your feet, your legs, your belly, your arms.. How you sink into your mattress and your pillow and how finally your eyes are heavy and sleepy and they barely stay awake because you are so tired that you just… fall… asleep.

Then I can simply remind you “You need to close your eyes and relax.” And I can start telling you that I will be back to check on you as I need to do my bedtime chores.

I’m more worried about how I will convince you to get out of bed when you’re a teenager than I am about the idea that you will never self soothe or that you will never sleep in your own bed. I want you to truly enjoy going to sleep at the end of your long and eventful days, I don’t want you to simply lay there with your eyes awake waiting for sleep while counting sheep as I do the same thing one room over. I want to teach you all the things that I’ve learned about falling asleep, rather than leaving you as an infant to somehow figure it out on your own.

I can savor bedtime and wait it out, because this will not last forever. You are a little creature that is bent on independence. All I need to do is help you see sleep for what it is. Safe, comfortable, and lovely.

<3 Mama

Follow up: “Learning to Self Soothe (WIO)

What You Pump is What Baby Eats (Myth)

Dear Daughter,

One day you will be nursing your own child. One day you will inevitably be told that you should pump to see what your baby is getting from the breast. It will sound like very good advice. I will give you better advice: Don’t do it.

Unless you also open up the refrigerator and assume that what is in there is what you need to eat for the day. (And go hungry on the days where there isn’t much there, and stuff yourself on the days when it is full.)

Breasts are not pre-fab meals that are filled up at the beginning of each feeding as though they have ounce markers. They are not containers. They are not measured by what is in them, but by what baby gets out of them. What baby gets from the breast is what baby has gottten out of the breast at that feed when the baby stops nursing and pops off. That amount is unknown and does not NEED to be known. And if that amount is something that you are curious about, then pumping is the WORST POSSIBLE WAY EVER to know that mysterious number.

Pumps are ineffective. They mash your breast into a hard or soft plastic thing and use a vacuum to push the ducts up against the plastic thing while sucking and trying to extract milk with all the grace and ease of an elephant dancing the ballet. The pump goes fwip-fwip-fwip-fwip in letdown mode then FWIIIIIIP-FWIIIIIIP-FWIIIIIIP-FWIIIIIIP in pumping mode. It is a robot.

A baby nursing is a combination of many things. The tongue works the breast, the jaw compresses the breast, the baby applies variable suction. When the milk flow changes the baby’s nursing patterns change. Depending on what your breast is doing at the moment baby might go fwi-fwi-fwi-fwiiiip-FWIIIIIP-fwi-fwi-fwi-FWIP-FWIP-FWIP-FWIP-FWIIIIIIP or baby might go fwip-fwip-fwip-fwip-FWIP-FWIPY-pause-FWIP-FWIP-FWIPFWIP.

Your baby is not a robot. Your baby has a body that has needs and a brain that processes those needs real-time as the baby nurses. Milk coming too fast means baby slows down. Milk coming too slow means baby works harder.

The pump is dumb. The pump does not know your body’s rhythms and patterns. The pump simply repeats a pattern of ineffective nursing in the hopes that your body will release milk. For some women it will cause milk to be released, for others it will fail miserably as it can only do two of the dozens of things that a baby does in order to get the milk out of your breasts.

Not only is it horribly ineffective, it  has very different needs than your baby does. The pumps “need” is whatever size bottle you have attached to it, with however many ouncey-lines it has. Got a gallon bottle attached? Got a 4oz bottle attached? Those are the needs of the pump.

Babies are biological critters whose needs vary across the day. Just as you might want a tall glass of water after you’ve been outside jogging on a hot day.. Or a huge breakfast if you’ve slept a long time and woke up ravenous. Imagine if you were given a huge breakfast of dry toast after you just ran three miles. Or if you were given a glass of water when you were REALLY FREAKING HUNGRY. Baby knows what baby wants, and knows how to get what baby wants, and will communicate that to the breast.

The pump will just go fwipfwipfwip FWIIIIP FWIIIIP FWIIIIP no matter what. Because the pump is a dumb robot.

There are sometimes problems with supply, but they are NEVER EVER EVER something that you can diagnose with a breastpump. Just as you can’t diagnose cancer with a psychic.

Your oldest brother nursed exclusively until he was 6 months old, never had a problem. I couldn’t pump more than a half ounce most of the time. (He nursed for three years and never had formula.) He needed more than what I could pump, and he worked for it and got what he needed.

Your middle brother nursed exclusively until he was five months old. I had no problem pumping but he had weight gain issues. Turned out he was tongue tied and needed to have the tongue tie released. (He nursed for 18 months and never had formula.) He needed more than what the pump could get, and he needed for his tongue tie to be released in order to get it. (He would vomit when he used a bottle, as his tongue tie would not allow him to effectively eat from a bottle either.)

You nurse wonderfully and I can pump enough to feed three of you. It’s called oversupply and it makes you miserable sometimes. If I were to gauge your needs by the pump instead of by your behavior then you would easily consume upwards of 48 ounces of milk per day and be miserable and unhealthy rather than consuming what you need. Whatever it is that you need. I don’t know what you eat. I’ve never measured. Instead I look at the number of wet diapers you churn out with enough frequency to cause me to have a never-ending source of cloth diaper laundry. You need much less than what I can pump. And when you  nurse, you nurse for what you need.

The pump is a pump. Your child is a baby. What you can pump is exactly that: What you can pump. Don’t extrapolate from that.

What you need to know is that your child will not make enough messy diapers each day if your child is not “getting enough”. You will see a diaper count that does not reflect a baby whose needs for “amount” are being met.

And if the messy count is good but there are other issues such as weight problems? The problem is NOT “amount”. It is something else that the breast pump cannot see. It is an allergic baby, or a tongue tied baby, or a baby with reflux. It is an undiagnosed baby.

The breast pump will tell you nothing other than “This is how much you can pump today at this time with this pump.” Don’t base your success or failure at breastfeeding on what the pump tells you any  more than you would happily accept failure as predicted by a fortune cookie.

Those who suggest the pump mean well, but they are repeating a myth. Success is in facts, never in myths. And the measure of your supply is in your baby, never a  pump.

<3 Mama

 **Please note: This is NOT about moms that are exclusively pumping. This is about the myth that a mother who is exclusively breastfeeding should pump, see what she gets, and that is what baby eats per feeding. (Ie: if mom pumps 9oz in a session, that’s what baby is getting each feed. If mom pumps a quarter of an ounce in a session, that’s what baby is getting. That is a myth.

If anything, I hold Exclusively Pumping moms in high esteem. Pumps are annoying and cumbersome, so for a mom to EP when that is the only way to provide her baby with breastmilk.. I am in awe. They work much harder than either EBFing moms or formula feeding moms.)

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

Dear Daughter,

The things that we hear as children leave deep imprints in how we see the world as adults and sometimes for the test of our lives. We guard carefully the things that people have said about us. Both good and bad, truth and fiction.

Many of those things are transient and escapable if we learn to question rather than to repeat. To look for the truth and the falsehood in the ideas that we hold deep and dear every time they cross our minds or escape our lips.

I hear myself sometimes as I repeat things said about me as though truths set in stone. I catch myself sometimes as I settle into patterns established for me by someone else. I hear your oldest brother tell me the truths that he has heard pass another’s lips which he holds dear, despite those truths being negative things that make him reluctant to believe a happier thing about himself and his abilities.

I hear women talk about the reasons why their mothers failed to breastfeed, and how those same things apply to them. They cry about their failure and feel deep guilt and regret about not being able to do the thing that they want so badly to do. These are not the truths of their situation, but they are unable to move past the self doubt that was given to them through innocent stories told by loving mothers, and so the natural ups and downs of a normal breast feeding relationship are markers of failure rather than of success and change. Amount pumped, fussy baby, bottle bonding, bad latch, breast blisters, spitup, clinginess, growth spurts, mastitis, growth curves, night time feedings.

I do not know how to teach you to own yourself, your story, to seek the positive, accept only the affirmative, to understand the process of trying, of struggling, of succeeding, of finding your own level of excellence in each area of your life without internalizing the self doubt of others.

Everyone speaks so freely of their failings and their limits, or their fatness or scrawniness, of their weakness and inability. We self depreciate, self mock, angst over the curves we have and the ones we don’t. We assume that we cannot do things because we tried a few times once a long while back and it didn’t happen automatically. Or we struggled a brief while with only unhelpful advice and then deemed ourselves failures rather than accepting that this particular thing might require more effort to master at this particular time than we are willing to devote.

One day when you are all grown up, stand in front of a mirror and look at each part of you. Rattle off the good and the bad as you look. Then question yourself. “Who told me that?” It is a liberating feeling to strip yourself of the sad and negative things, to smile at your reflection and realize that words are not truths. To settle into the shape and form of who you are, and to recognize that all of the little freckles, paleness, crazy flyaway hairs, the crookedness or stick-outedness.. Those are all the subtle little details of our body that make it so that those who love us can spot us in a crowd. So our parents can smile at our faces. So our future husband or wife can trace our faces with their fingers and recognize the shape of us in the dark, or so that they can snuggle up to us in the sunlight and love how unique we are, how we are theirs and they are ours. So that those who love us could never dream up the level of tiny details that form us as who we are. Details that would be lacking in cookie cutter perfection.

People say things in moments of happiness or in frustration. About themselves, about you, about others. Things filtered through the type of day that they are having, or the type of day that you have had, and those things are transient observations of a moment in time, not hard worn truths that are un-alterable by effort or even simply by a different sort of day. Do not absorb negative judgements that are based on a tiny moment in time.

Life is anything but black and white. Life is not even a multitude of shades of gray. It is a dazzling array of colors and shades of textures and of time. It is a fabric in the process of being woven rather than a fossil set in stone.

Even if true today, tomorrow brings changes.

Hold on to the things that bring you joy and that motivate you to do better, be better, try harder, and to fill yourself and your life with experiences that help you grow.

Life is yours to conquer, don’t let the words of others convince you otherwise.

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