Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Being Confident in Mothering

Linking up again today with Kelly’s Korner, Blue-Eyed Bride, Life in the Green House, and Lil Light O’ Mine for the Build ‘Em Up Series.

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Shawnee and Moore, OK who suffered effects from the devastating tornadoes on Sunday and Monday. The devastation is horrible and lives have been ripped apart. We are praying for them in their time of need and pray that these deadly storms do not wreak more havoc this week as is being predicted.


Before I became a mom, I was quite certain I knew there were certain aspects of mothering I was quite certain I already knew how we’d handle. We’d have a nice little hospital stay, our babies would be perfectly healthy, breastfeeding would be easy, and oh, sure there’d be hard days, but we could handle it. I was CONFIDENT. Confident in my skills to mother, confident in our abilities to handle whatever situations came our way, and confident in knowing the needs of our children.  

That pretty much went out the window the day Ava was born. She had jaundice and we weren’t released as soon as I thought we were as she needed time in the NICU under bilirubin lights. When we did finally get her home, we struggled. My body didn’t produce as much as milk as she needed and we struggled through that. Then we had screaming. Inconsolable screaming. The first three months of Ava’s life were MISERABLE. Miserable for her. Miserable for us. That poor baby was suffering. We finally determined she had silent reflux, along with lactose intolerance (which pretty much meant it didn’t matter if I’d produced all the breast milk in the world, she wasn’t having it. In those days of not knowing WHAT was making her cry, my confidence was shattered. I felt like I knew NOTHING about caring for a child. Thankfully, as she improved, so did my confidence. 

As we navigated the waters of parenting a newborn, and then toddler, it became increasingly apparent that the game of parenthood is plagued with judgments. Everywhere you turn, people would ask questions about your child and things you do, and if your answer didn’t suit them, you’d see an eye raise, or a tight smile, and sometimes even outright dismay in words at your choices. For a while I let that bother me. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong for someone to disagree with me. And then I realized: No. We weren’t wrong. We were doing WHAT WE FELT WAS BEST FOR OUR CHILD. And who had the right to judge that?! 

I don’t remember at what point I decided that I didn’t care what other people thought. If I sought an opinion, I would respect those and weigh them, but try not to judge. What works for you and your family just may not work for me and my family. And that’s okay.  

Those early days of being a parent are FILLED with unsolicited advice. People mean well and are genuinely just trying to help. But man can that shake your confidence! I’ve learned that unless someone is specifically seeking some sort of advice, I try not to give them any because I know it can make you feel like you’re failing. However, if I hear someone acting like Ava did as a baby, you better believe I’ll jump to tell them about Ava, solely to hopefully save them some weeks worth of frustrations and misery.  
I was witness to a conversation on twitter the other day regarding ages that are appropriate for pacifiers. We took Ava’s away except for nap and bedtimes at 15 months. We took it away altogether at 21 months. Reed is 19 months and I’m not sure his will be gone before he’s two. He can talk with it in his mouth or take it out to talk. Yeah, maybe he doesn’t need it, but he’s cutting molars right now and it’s a comfort to him to chew on it. I’m sure not taking that away. What we felt worked for Ava isn’t even what we feel works for Reed. If our two kids who are siblings are so different, can you imagine the differences between kids that aren’t related?! 
I do think that social media, as well as ease of access TO the social media, has magnified the lack of confidence we feel as mothers. At any given point in the day, we can use our phones to look at twitter, facebook, instagram, blogs, etc and see a multitude of people and the way they do things differently than us. I also think that behind a screen, people are bolder in their decision to argue about a rear vs. front facing child, or a formula fed vs. breastfed baby, whether or not you work or stay home, etc. With the protection of not being face to face, I think people are harsher with their words and feel the need to defend their standpoint. Words can hurt, y’all. Even typed words. It’s important to weigh the words you use before speaking/typing them. 
I also think it is important that as parents, we exhibit confidence in our parenting, because our kids are smart. They can tell when we are unsure or timid. And I know that mine feed off of that. When I’m parenting alone for many hours, they know when I’ve reached my limit or when my confidence falters. And they take advantage. I know I probably did the same as a child. So it’s important to be confident for that. But I also believe that our kids are watching us, and as they see us approach life, they will begin to develop characteristics they see us exhibit. I know I want my kids to grow up being confident in who they are, but how can they be if I’m not?  
As moms, we are all just trying to do what is best for our children and our family. And there is a learning curve. It’s trial and error. And it took me a couple years, but you know what? I am CONFIDENT in my mothering. I am CONFIDENT that the decisions my husband and I make are the best ones for our children. I am CONFIDENT that you may judge me and the decisions we make all you want, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter to me. I am CONFIDENT that your judgments may hurt me sometime and I am CONFIDENT that they make me question what it is we are doing. But I am MOST CONFIDENT in the fact that I am the BEST MOTHER in the world to my babies that I know to be and I am MOST CONFIDENT that no one knows what is best for them more than I do. I am CONFIDENT that I fail and that I struggle, and I am CONFIDENT that it is okay to admit that. I am CONFIDENT that when I struggle or you struggle, we need to develop an attitude of support, not one of judgment. I am CONFIDENT that if mothers were more supportive of each other we would all feel a little better about ourselves. 
I am CONFIDENT that these two babies are my world, and that they are loved, well cared for, and that THEY ARE CONFIDENT that their mommy loves them more than anything!


  1. Good post, Sarah. ;)
    I wish women were more supportive of each other as moms!

  2. Great post! You have a beautiful family and you are an inspiration!

  3. What a great post. Stopping over from a blonde ambition.

    I'm not close to being a mom, yet. I'm getting married this year and hopefully kids in the future. Thank you for putting this out there for those expecting to be moms IN THE FUTURE!


  4. Such a great post!! I put a little graphic in my post that says "there is no way to be a perfect mother...but a million ways to be a good one." None of us are perfect!! But we can all do things differently and all still be great mama's!!

  5. Sarah, that is great advice! I have felt judged and sometimes it has been harsh judgement. I ALWAYS try to say something positive.

  6. love this blog post...all of it so so true. My babies are 13 & almost 10 and while I think they are so much easier than they were when they were little figuring out how to mom a teenager is a whole new challenge.
    But as I'm sure you would agree I wouldn't change it if I could!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring post! It was a pleasure reading it and I am very happy to have came across a very good read. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and also for feeding us with some of your wonderful tips. I love your post and I hope to read more from you soon. :)

  8. Just catching up on these, I love this post, Sarah. Your wisdom is always so encouraging to me. And if they're confident in our love for them, is there anything else?


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