Today I went to a baptism class in preparation for my son’s christening. There was a mother there with her five week old baby boy, who kept screaming and screaming. She said: “Oh, we’re switching from breast milk to formula and he has a terrible tummy ache!” I started getting really anxious. I couldn’t understand why a mother would do that to her child. I bit my tongue and said nothing. However, I was so stressed out about this that I started sweating…
She gave him a bottle and he screamed even more. Instead of trying to comfort her baby, the mother handed him willingly to the lady who was running the class. He screamed as hard as he physically could. It was just awful. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. The mother finally took him back after half an hour and he stopped crying.
I spent the entire class obsessing about this woman and her baby. Worrying about his health, what could be causing the stomach ache, etc. I couldn’t concentrate on much of what was being said up front. Suddenly I realized what I had become: A mommy-fascist!
I was judging a woman I didn’t know anything about on the parenting choices she was making. Which, for obvious reasons, is completely unacceptable and something I never wanted to do. I have so many friends with completely different parenting styles and usually I don’t think twice about their parenting choices because I trust them. I know that the choices they make are the right ones for their family.
I have been thinking about myself a lot today. One of the reasons I was so upset about the lady and her baby is because of all the reading I have been doing these past few weeks. I am studying to become a La Leche League leader and a doula. There are so many facts in the books I have been reading that tell me exactly what the right choices to make are. I have let these facts influence my subjective thinking and blind me from the reality of the western world.
Not only is it unfair of me to judge another mother because of the choices she has made, it is also unacceptable professionally. If I really want to help mothers with their breastfeeding issues, I must accept that some will still decide to formula feed. And that this is ok. It is time for me to start distancing myself emotionally from what I have learned so that I can again be accepting and tolerant of others. It will help me be a better person- professionally and personally.