From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was scouring the Internet for articles, downloading apps and talking to seasoned mothers in search of advice on how best to prepare myself for the life-changing experience of becoming a parent. At first it was exciting receiving so much guidance coupled with personal anecdotes, but it quickly became overwhelming. Everywhere I turned, listened or clicked there was conflicting information.
“Babies should be alone in their crib the day you bring them home.” “No, babies should co-sleep to foster familial bonds.”
“Babies should breastfeed until they self-wean.” “Babies don’t need to nurse after three months.”
“If you choose this car seat, you might as well be arrested for child abuse.” “All car seats are the same except for the price.”
No one agreed on everything another mother said, but when I read blogs or comments, it sure looked like they did. Those who offered a different perspective were often attacked for sharing their contradictory experiences.Those who offered a different perspective were often attacked for sharing their contradictory experiences.
In the mommy world, there is this sense of guilt and shame that I believe we all take on at some point, and it starts early. We are judged for being a working parent and having to leave our babies with a sitter. We are lazy if we stay home. We are shamed when going through the drive-thru for a less-than-desirable kid’s meal in lieu of a perfectly balanced nutritious dinner. We are rigid and need to lighten up if we only make balanced, nutritious meals. We feel guilty as we lay in bed listening to our baby learning to self-sooth. We are indulging them if they are allowed to lay in bed with us as we constantly question whether our technique is the right one.
But for all of these feelings and self-doubt, somehow we manage to successfully raise our babies. We watch their little personalities develop with love and see them exhibit respect for all living things. We hear them form words, then sentences, then thoughts and jokes. And one day we realize, in the midst of all of our parental insecurities, that we are the experts in our own lives and have known what was best for our family all along.
The two tiny humans I’m raising are my life. They are pieces of my own heart walking around outside of my body. I knew from the moment I held them in my arms that I would do anything to protect them. And I suddenly understood the gut-wrenching agony my own parents felt the morning they got the call that their 20-year-old baby girl had been unable to protect herself from a man who broke into her college apartment.
There is nothing more precious to a parent than their child’s life. And to assume that anyone is more capable of protecting that life on a daily basis than ourselves is downright frightening. It is my responsibility as a mother to guard them as long as I am able, and then I must teach them how to protect themselves. They will not be raised under the privileged guise that legislated “control” of a tool will somehow save them from the evil in this world. Guns are not necessary for the commission of crime—and sadly, they’ll have to understand why Mommy knows that firsthand. … to assume that anyone is more capable of protecting that life on a daily basis than ourselves is downright frightening.
They will be taught to respect law enforcement, to take responsibility for their actions and to stand up for what is right—including our National Anthem. And they will learn these things not because I’ll tell them to, but because I will show them how it is done. Leading by example and offering them the choice to grow up and become who they truly are is the greatest gift I will ever give to them. And millions of parents throughout the world simply strive to do the exact same.
Mommy-shaming must end. I am equipped to raise my own children and do what I know is best for them, just like each and every one of you are. When I look at groups like Moms Demand Action or even Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a mom herself, I see a campaign of shaming those mothers who do not believe what they tell us we should believe. It’s as if our life experiences are somehow less important than their control-seeking agenda. But as our children’s mothers, we do not need someone telling us what to do—much less taking away our right to choose how to protect our kids.
I am a mother. And I’m demanding to keep my right to choose how I defend myself and my family. Don’t let Hillary Clinton take that right away.