Thursday, June 12, 2008

self confidence and judgements

Well, that was a long post yesterday. I read someplace the ideal blog post should be no more than 3-400 words, and while I haven't checked, I'm sure I violated that by a country mile.

I wanted to include one more idea, but it was so long I thought I'd leave it for today. I was raised by the most (at least outwardly) self confident woman imaginable. My mom always pounded into me, be confident in your decisions, don't let people push you around, be assertive. She's incredibly practical, my mom, but not the most girl-y of moms. More of a stand on your own two feet than hush, now, let me give you a hug. I turned out more like my mom's sister - more concerned with others feelings and not rocking the boat - though I can stand up for myself when needed.

It's hard to offend me. I didn't feel like I was forced to defend my parenting choices. I do think there is a silent majority of women who enjoy working and yet say out loud they only work cause they have to. Owning that choice might help end what really is a pointless debate. Not working is not an option for the majority.

We live in a society where people feel the need to have their own choices justified - and this is magnified when it comes to parenting. We choose, for example, to live in the city, to have shorter commutes, smaller housing, and more urban life, good and bad. I can't tell you how many of our suburban friends question that choice on a regular basis. They ask, how can you live there? We counter, how can you put up with an hour commute each way? People are different and priorities are different.

There is no one right way to raise a child. There are an endless variety of options, from breastfeeding exclusively for 12 months, to nursing a few weeks, to going straight to the bottle. There's cloth diapers and disposal diapers. There's the feed them solids early camp,
the cry it out camp, the rock them to sleep in your arms camp. And different methods work for different children and different parents. Just cause cry it out worked for you doesn't mean it'll work for me. And that's ok. Whatever choices you make are your choices to make. And no one else's to question. Because whether I rock my child to sleep every night or let them cry it out, it makes no difference to you or your life. None whatsoever. Be confident in what you chose, and don't let what I chose have any impact on you. And vice versa. So because I choose to work nd you don't -well, fine. I don't question your choice, you don't question mine. My choices doesn't HARM you, and your choice doesn't harm me. And, I don't need you to make the same choices I make to validate my choices.

There's been a ton written about the mommy wars. Stay at homes versus work outside the home. I was lucky enough to forms a moms group with a group of woman I met when my daughter was born. None of us work super high powered traveling jobs, working 60 hours a week or more. Some of us work full time, some part time, some a bit here and there, some none at all. And not one of us has ever passed judgment on another's choice. Cause you know what? We're all in it together. There's enough real stuff to worry, fret, and stay awake at night over. We don't need to put any additional pressure on ourselves. Motherhood is hard - and great - enough as it is without meddling in someone else's choices. We've got plenty of our own to make.

That's my final take on it all. It just really doesn't matter. Do what works for you, as long as it does, and when it doesn't, do something else. Be confident in who and what you are and the choices you make. You don't need anyone else's approval - or copying - to validate the choices you make.


niobe said...

I basically agree with you, but reading your post made me wonder if there are some choices that others make (not so much individually as collectively) that do harm others.

For example, my mother's life was made a good deal more difficult by the fact that, back then unlike her, the vast majority of women chose not to work outside the home.

She never questioned her own choice and she's been very successful in her career, but because it was a choice made by so few other women, because it was so unusual to be a woman physician, my mother's life was much harder than it would have been if there had been a larger group of her peers who made the same choice that she did.

In other words, I'm all for choice at an individual level. But individual choices add up.

CLC said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. It's all about choice and what works for one's own family. I don't understand how some people think it's selfish for a mother to work. Some mothers have no choice, and others need the stimulation from a job. You are right everyone is different, and what I do shouldn't affect what you do. It's unfortunate that there are people out there who don't see it that way though. I choose to not surround myself with those types of people, although it's unfortunate because I work with some of them!

Which Box said...

Niobe, I don't disagree with you at all. Pioneers definitely have it hardest, no matter what the situation. I think we're seeing a new breed of working moms who are admitting they like to work.

I also thought hard about other types of choices that could harm others - raising your child in such a way that harms him/her does harm society as whole. That seemed outside my own little soapbox's scope. Though some people advocate working moms are destructive to society. Given the reality o financial pressures, though, it's just not possible to go back to that mode of family life.