By Aubrey Hirsch
Motherhood has brought about a number of changes in me. But perhaps the most unexpected change is that it has made me the most non-judgmental person on the planet.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Having a baby is hard. And I mean hard. Without hesitation, I can say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It is also my favorite thing. In these last fifteen months, I have been irreversibly altered. Becoming a mother has made me stronger and more sensitive. It’s made me powerful and new. And it has made me more open-minded and accepting than I have ever been.
I didn’t go into motherhood naively. I knew that people had opinions—strong opinions—on the right and wrong ways to birth and raise a baby. I had my own strong feelings, my own uncompromising ideas on how I would raise my son. But those had all faded into distant echoes by midway into the second week of his life, when just grabbing a quick shower required a day and a half of advance planning.
There may have been a time when I would have glanced sidelong at a woman making a choice I didn’t understand. But now that I know how tough it is to be a mother, I simply can’t wrap my head around judging anyone for her decisions. This job is so hard, so hard, that I have nothing but admiration for anyone who’s taking it on.
To me, criticizing another mother for letting her kid cry or not letting her kid cry, for breastfeeding too briefly or too long or not at all, for putting her kid in time out, letting him eat this, dressing her in that, or birthing in a way that would have made me uncomfortable—to do any of these things would be like critiquing someone for her hair moving out of place while she was being eaten by wolves.
That is not what I want to do. I want to say, “Hey, Mama! You looked like a badass bitch taking on those wolves!” And “Aren’t these wolves crazy?!” And “Tell me how you’re surviving these wolf attacks.” And then I want to hug her, and tell her she’s doing amazing, and that I’m proud of her.
Because I am. I’m proud of all of us.
I know the love that’s emerged between me and my own little wolf pup. It’s ferocious and wild. It will not be tamed or suppressed or caged. I know all the other mothers are feeling it too. So it is proof beyond anything else I could observe that we are all doing everything we can to make sure our children grow up happy, healthy and loved.
So I won’t be enlisting in the Mommy Wars. I’m tearing up my draft card and burning it in protest. And if someone on the playground or the doctor’s office or the mall tries to recruit me, I will tell them I’m a pacifist. A conscientious objector. I’ll tell them that we’re all just doing our best—and look at these children. Aren’t they beautiful? Aren’t they the most exquisite things you’ve ever seen? I mean, come on Moms, we all must be doing something right.
Aubrey Hirsch is the author of Why We Never Talk About Sugar. She has also written essays on pregnancy and motherhood for TheRumpus.net. You can learn more about her at www.aubreyhirsch.com.
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