As most you know, I am pretty new to this whole blogging thing. My first blog post was just over a month ago. I actually started blogging shortly after I started tweeting because 140 characters was not quite enough to say what I wanted to say. I started tweeting because I love that it is called ‘tweeting’ and I wanted to participate in the conversation. Staying at home is lonely sometimes and I wanted to connect. Blogging has become an outlet for me, the opportunity to get something off my chest or just share, whether or not someone is listening.
It has also become something more: Therapy. I entered the blogosphere with a pretty big chip on my shoulder about motherhood. Actually, one particular aspect of motherhood- my inability to breastfeed. When I started blogging I had no idea just how much this was bothering me and impacting how I felt about myself as a mother. Through the process of not just writing for my blog, but also reading other blogs and commenting (and therefore participating in a community), I have gone through a number of stages. A therapy of sorts. I thought I would share.
1. Self awareness. I started to realize just how much of a sore spot the breastfeeding issue was for me when I found myself getting really upset by the conversations I was seeing on twitter and some blogs. When I first got on twitter I started following popular “mommy bloggers” out of interest in what they were saying. I soon figured out that some of these bloggers were essentially saying I had messed up royally and was harming my child with formula. Instead of just letting these opinions of totally strangers just roll off my shoulders, I felt really hurt.
2. Expressing myself. I wrote two post on my breastfeeding experiences and feelings. (And now it gets personal… and Breastfeeding and Feminism: Let’s Move on to the Third Wave.) I got what I had to say, for the most part, off my chest.
3. Realizing that I was not alone. When I wrote that post about breastfeeding and feminism and amazing thing happened. The Fearless Formula Feeder found me and put a link to my post on her blog. This meant so much to me. Not only to be recognized, but also to have someone reach out to me and help me realize I was not alone. Through her blog I connected to a bunch of other women who have been through even more difficult challenges then I had.
4. Anger. But there was something about realizing I was not alone that also got me more upset– because it made me realize just how widespread and devastating the effects of the prevailing attitudes on formula feeding were. Now I wasn’t just upset about what I had been through, I was bothered that so many of us were being judged so harshly. Especially because many of us, who really wanted to breastfeed and did everything we could to make it happen, were no being told a) didn’t do it right/didn’t try hard enough and b) were harming our kids intelligence and health by ‘giving in’ to formula. I wanted to take on the ‘big players’ of lactivism directly and question their approach. Tell them to not use fear and guilt as a tactic to promote something so good. Somehow change their minds.
5. Understanding. Luckily I had to the good sense to re-evaluate this approach pretty quickly, so as to avoid going overboard and get myself into an un-winable argument with anyone. (The Fearless Formula Feeder is much better then I at engaging in this debate in a reasonable and respectful way! I just get upset.) Also, I started to realize that many of these Mom’s who I felt were judging me were feeling judged themselves, just on different issues. Furthermore, a lot of what they were saying wasn’t coming from a place of judgment, but rather a bigger context of the injustices they see in the world. Yes, they come across judgmental sometimes, but I realized I don’t think they realize or mean to.
6. Healing. And then, just when I was feeling overwhelmed by all the judgment, a lovely thing started to happen. All of a sudden I kept seeing all these blog posts about acceptance. Posts urging each other to stop judging. After weeks of seeing so many posts that seemed harsh and judgmental the blogosphere started to balance it’s self out. (I should note that I have always been lucky that all of you that comment on my blog and all of your blogs that I often read had always been non-judgy. I am talking the wider blogosphere.)
(Here are some of those posts. I am sure there are some more great ones out there, feel free to post some more links in the comments.
From Cloth Diapers, a blog post from Cotton Babies.
From Nummies Blog, a blog post from Nummies.
From The Bad Mom’s Club, a blog post from motherbumper.
From Strocel.com (not specifically about judgment, but refreshingly supportive of a cause without being judgmental.) : http://tinyurl.com/ygly5st
7. Accepting. I have started accepting that discussions about parenting are going to rustle some feathers. And that sometimes others will say things I don’t like. When they do, I can either choose to politely disagree or I can ignore it. Sometimes it worth it to say something and sometimes it isn’t. Realizing that I may not like someones stance on one issue, but I can still respect them and agree with other things they are writing about.
8. Forgiveness. Of myself and of others. But most importantly of myself. I really really did do everything I could. And it is okay.
So all of this in a month? For free? Certainly a good deal as therapy goes! I wonder how I will feel after I have been blogging for a year?
Also: Thank you. It is amazing how quickly I have found such a wonderful, accepting and intelligent group of bloggers and parents out there to talk to. Thanks for all your comments and for reading. You guys all rock.