When we first had Blake, I worked part time at a music store. Henry would get off at 4:30, come home, and I would leave and work 5-9 or on the weekends. This became too much. Not only was my baby asleep when I got home, but I never saw my husband. So, Black Friday of 2012 was the last time I was a permanent employee anywhere. I went back and helped a couple times when they were in a pickle, but I never worked more than a couple days. Anyway, when I told people that I had quit my job and chose to stay home with our baby they thought I was crazy. They didn’t have to say it. The looks I got were enough to make me uncomfortable. Why were they judging me? Who the hell died and made them the judge and jury on other people’s life decisions? Why did we choose to do this? Many reasons. Child care is expensive and at the time I didn’t have my degree yet. Why pay someone to raise my child if I can do it myself? I didn’t want to leave him. I didn’t want to miss things. I know people think I’m lazy, a “gold digger”, or not living up to my potential in the workforce. I tell you this: There is plenty to do around here on a daily basis (if you don’t believe me come hang out for a day), there is no gold to be dug out (we do without many things, because things suck in comparison to nurturing a family), and my full potential is to be the best mommy and wife I can be despite what jealous bitches think about it. Really, though, there’s nothing to be jealous of. I’m not going to lie, we do without some things. We don’t go out to eat, we shop at Aldi, we shop at thrift stores and if I buy clothes for Blake they are never full price. It’s doable. Sometimes I wonder what our lives would be like if I worked full time during the day, and I instantly get sad that I would have to leave Blake with someone else full time. It’s not worth it to me. We have a budget (which I must admit we need to get better about following), we meal plan for each pay period, we buy modest gifts for birthdays and Christmas. LIfe is not about things, it’s about what we have to offer each other as human beings. I don’t enjoy have to scrimp and save some weeks, but looking at Blake and listening to his laugh when he discovers something on his own, that makes it worth every “thing” we don’t have. I often tell people I’m an old soul. I really believe that I was born in the wrong decade because our lifestyle is pretty old fashioned. Ask me if I give an eff. Because I don’t. I don’t regret any decisions we’ve made in regards to our family’s lifestyle. We enjoy each other and enjoy the fun things we do that much more. We also know how to just enjoy each other.
As the mother a premature boy, I get very frustrated by the “milestones” that children should hit at certain times. Not only was Blake a month early, but he also suffered from infantile spasms in early March of this year. He’s fifteen months (fourteen adjusted) and is starting to take steps on his own. He had trouble learning to sit up because his body took some time catching up to the size of his noggin. He’s been in physical therapy and is still in developmental therapy for various things. I think he’s perfect. There’s no doubt in my mind. But, it really creams my corn that he is compared by doctors to children who have had nothing more major than a common cold. It shouldn’t. I know it shouldn’t. I should be able to just say ‘he’ll walk when he’s ready’ or ‘he isn’t interested in stacking blocks’. But his development is judged based on things he has no interest in. I try to stack blocks with him. He picks them up and puts them back in his toybox. Literally. I love watching him play. He’s so interested in so many things.
Now, I realize that as a mother I need to be aware of what he’s doing and what he’s not. And trust me, I am fully aware. But, I hate having him lumped into the norm because some doctor, a long time ago, says that is where he should be. Sorry, not sorry. I will continue to work with him on things, and I will continue to nurture him and love him, but, I have no magic wand (unfortunately)! I can’t make him catch on. I can’t say ‘you have to be interested in stacking blocks, because this piece of paper says so’. Do I worry? Of course I do. But, I try not to let it be something that I focus on everyday. I can’t spend everyday worrying about it or we will all go crazy and he won’t progress at all. They say by two his development should be equal to his peers (for preemies). Okay, great but what about his seizures and the shots he got for six weeks after to correct the chaotic brain waves? There’s an endless list of questions. But, if I focus on that list too much I lose sight of what’s truly important, and that is that he is a healthy growing boy. He makes his daddy and I so happy. He is constant joy and is truly the best part of me (mushy mush). Nothing they ever tell me could ever make us love him less. He’s one kick ass little dude and I look forward to our shenanigans every single day.
I formula fed Blake. Why? Because breast feeding scared the shit out of me. I still haven’t fully decided if I want to breastfeed when we have another one yet. I never grew up around people breastfeeding. It wasn’t a norm for me. Plus, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want my husband to shoulder some of the responsibility. What I still don’t get though, is on these mom groups and across the country moms are bashed for choosing not to breastfeed their babies. My question is, who the hell cares and why is it your business? I’m not saying one method is better than the other, because I truly believe that. I have known breastfed babies who are sicker than formula fed, etc. Why can’t we just celebrate that we fed our baby? Because I promise you I don’t care how you do it. And if you care how I do it, I’m sorry that you have nothing better to worry about. I hear about the taboo of breastfeeding, how people find it “offensive”. Seriously? And I hear that formula is poison and I used my son as a lab rat. Seriously? Shut the F up. Do I want to see your boob? Nope. But, it’s a free country and you can do what you please. I can’t really compare that to anything when it comes to formula feeding, because I never had to whip something out to feed Blake. I think what I find offensive is the whole debate about it. I would never make anyone feel bad for choosing one way or the other. It’s really none of my business. The most I will do is ask what you chose. And that’s only because I’m super nosey and sometimes I can’t help myself. But beyond that, I don’t give two shits. I’m more worried about what’s for dinner or why we need commercials for toilet paper (who isn’t purchasing toilet paper?). I enjoyed feeding my son his bottle when he needed it, and it’s obvious that breastfeeding moms enjoy that bond. But, I’ll never believe that one makes you closer to your child than the other. We’re all kick-ass moms who have no idea what we’re doing in the beginning. You feed your child? Congratulations, that’s normal!
I am by no means a “crunchy” parent. First of all, who the hell made up that term? What does that even mean? Well, Google, don’t fail me now. Okay so, supposedly, it’s the people who are anti-vaccine, baby wearing, breastfeeding, and eating all organic stuff that is grown on the free range farms. Cloth diapering, drug free, co-sleeping, etc…I think you get the idea. Obviously, I don’t let my son squirt red food dye in his mouth at snack time. But, seriously. I baby wear and we cloth diapered for awhile. I make things from scratch as often as I can. It doesn’t always happen because sometimes frozen pizza is what’s for dinner. I will always get my child vaccinated (not going to start a war on that) and I will never cosleep (Blake sleeps like an octopus–arms and legs everywhere!). Do I think you’re weird because you do? Absolutely not! Do I think you are better or worse than I am? Absolutely not. Now, I know that no matter what I say it’ll piss someone off. Which is fine. If I was worried about that I would never be able to open my mouth again (Blessing? Curse?). I didn’t know breastfeeding made you “crunchy”. You feed your child. Congratulations. I fed my child formula, he’s alive and well to tell about it (well, he will when he can talk). There always seems to be this war between the breast nipples and the silicone nipples (maybe yours are silicone, too, not for me to judge). But that is a story for another day. Can’t we all just agree that whether we are “crunchy” or smooth (is that the opposite?) we are all amazing. We get up and take care of our babes and nourish them and take care of them. That’s what mommyhood is, y’all. Being the best we can be for our munchkins.