It was the fall of 2015. I had been a parent for exactly 7 years and 9 months. I was walking in the door to my 132nd mom event (but who’s counting?) in which yet another “mom topic” was going to be addressed. As the MOPS meeting began, I asked myself why I was there. We were in a rather intense season of life, having recently sold our home and preparing for a move in just 3 days. The event was really the last thing I had time for. Besides, I had attended about every “mom talk” I could in the past 7.75 years – what new topic could there possibly be to explore?
Thankfully, the friends I wanted to see one final time - and, I’ll admit, the fabulous breakfast food - lured me into the building on that October morning….because it turned out there was another important lesson I had yet to learn. And it was a rather freeing one.
The topic that day wasn’t actually one topic, but many. The leadership team had assembled a mentor panel – a group of seasoned, experienced moms. You know, the ones who come up to the younger moms in the Target line and tell them to cherish these years because they pass so quickly. (More on that in a later blog post.)
These moms handled a variety of questions from us “younger” moms. The topics ranged from meal planning to maintaining intimacy in marriage to decisions on kids’ sports and activities. Each mom clearly warranted being on that stage. Each offered wisdom and perspective sprinkled with bits of tangible take-aways for those of us in the thick of it.
But what struck me most that day was how the emcee concluded the session. She summarized the time in a simple yet profound way. After thanking the panel, she said to the audience, “As you can see, there’s no ‘one way’ of doing things. One mom may do it this way, while another does it a different way. And both ways can bring about success!”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that summarization had a freeing affect on me. Mostly in regard to decision-making. It has helped me as I decide whether to sneak veggies into their diet with spinach pizza or outright force them to try peas. It has helped as I decide if we should encourage my oldest to try a sport - even though it’s not what he’s most drawn to - or simply sign him up for Lego and engineering classes. The list could go on forever. But whatever the scenario, I’ve realized the odds are - there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer, as long as I have my child’s best interests at heart.
So, dear expecting/new mamma – this is finally the part of the article that applies to you. As you navigate the stroller aisle, the bottle aisle, the diaper aisle – ANY AISLE! And make product choices, please take the pressure off of yourself of yourself to make the “right” choice. Indeed, do your research and make a well informed choice. But then head to the checkout line and make that purchase and don’t think twice about it.
As you agonize over whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, keep in mind there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer. Make a choice, run with it and examine how you feel about it after a few weeks of diapering.
As you decide whether or not to co-sleep – ask around, read up on it and try it one way for awhile. Then do what works for you.
As you decide whether or not to supplement with formula and/or involve daddy in the midnight feedings, try it one way and see how baby responds.
As you debate over whether or not to quit work after having baby, know that there are pros and cons with each. Seek counsel, do some soul-searching and make your decision in freedom.
I don’t mean to negate the importance or weight of some of these decisions, but I really and truly do want you to know this – if you ask a thousand moms how to do something, you could get a thousand different answers, and guess what? They all could be right. So, be a good mommy – read, ask, observe and decide. Then, take a deep breath. Whatever decision you landed on, it was the right one.