Before we talk about today's topic at Build 'Em Up, I want to share my overwhelming grief at the tornado devastation in Moore, Oklahoma. I have reached the point where I can watch no more because there but for the grace of God go I. After the 4.27.11 tornadoes that ravaged our county and most of the South, we have a very personal understanding of what these twisters can do. Our county still shows the signs of the tornadoes that day-the landscape of trees are now reduced to barren spikes. But what we saw then pales in comparison to the total destruction in Moore. I am horrified.
I am a Methodist and when tragedy happens, as it has all too much lately, I turn to my faith and to the United Methodist Council on Relief, which has mobilized to assist. If you want to help, please consider Donating to UMCOR, where 100% of your donation goes to relief.
Today's topic over at Build 'Em Up is Being Confident in Your Choices, which strikes a sharp chord with me. What Kelly wrote was spot-on, and I agree with her that everyone is different and everyone parents differently. That is why I have never been one to subscribe to a specific parenting philosophy when shepherding these two very different children.
When mine were babies (especially the Big Kid), I constantly worried about my choices. Did I send him to school too early? Is it wrong to take a kids-free vacation and leave him with my mom? Does he receive too many presents for birthday/Christmas/Easter/Wednesday? (He was the first grandchild on both sides - enough said.) By the time his little sister rolled in, I was more confident.
And then there was breastfeeding. Oh, the breastfeeding.
I had every intention of breastfeeding. I took the classes, I read the books, I stocked up on the supplies. But then I got sick after Big Kid was born. REALLY sick, as in, ending up in the ER in the middle of the night with a five-day-old baby, sick. To this day, it is the worst that I have ever felt in my life. When his sister came along a few years later, because of that experience with my first child, I did not breastfeed. I was terrified of getting sick again, and this time instead of being able to rest and recover, I had an energetic toddler to take care of in addition to a newborn. I was not prepared for the vitriol thrown my way. My parenting was reduced to one choice. Never mind anything else that I did as a mom, I was a bad parent because I did not breastfeed. It was cruel. It took my watching my children grow up to be healthy and smart as a whip for me to truly accept that those hurtful people were wrong. I 100% support breastfeeding, and I think that it is a wonderful thing to do for your child. I also believe that it is a choice, and there are many variables to consider.
For those of you who chose not to breastfeed (or are unable to), that same little boy is completing the third grade this week and just tested at a 5th grade, 7th month level in mathematics. So if it does not work out for you, rest assured that your baby will not grow up to be Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.
I did bow to peer pressure once in regards to a parenting choice. Do you have a picky eater? Well, I have two, and they get it honest (giving my husband the side-eye). I will eat anything and I love vegetables, so I know that it is not something learned. Well-meaning people kept admonishing us, "If you put it in front of them and tell them that they are not getting anything else, they will eat it." After one frustrating night of feeling like a short-order cook, I put a pork chop in front of Big Kid (at the time, Age 5) and told him to eat it. He must have sat at the table for hours, and after many tears-his and mine-he finally ate the pork chop.
And promptly threw it up.
I decided right then and there that I was not succumbing to parenting peer pressure anymore. And in the four years since, he has expanded his culinary tastes on his own, and I believe that he will continue to do so.
We all bring something different to the table - strengths, weaknesses, support, talents, personality traits. You have to find what works for you. If your child is happy and healthy, then pat yourself on the back, momma. You are doing it right.