They Are My Choices

. . . and I’m learning to stand by them.

Everyone has opinions. And most people are all too willing to share those opinions, myself included. And sharing opinions is fine and great, but too often it can turn into snarky judgement. And if I’m honest with myself, even sometimes I have judged and been snarky, though I’m working hard not to do that.

And I don’t know what happened when I became a mom, but something in me changed. I have always been sensitive to things that I perceive as criticism, but I have become especially sensitive since I was pregnant. I don’t know if it’s because I want so badly not to screw this up, more than just about anything else. I don’t know if it’s because of the idea behind statements like “Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion on, but the hardest thing to do.” I don’t know if it’s just a hormone thing. I don’t know if it’s because sometimes it doesn’t just feel like they’re attacking me, but sometimes it feels like they are attacking my kid. Sometimes it feels like people are saying that I’ve failed him or that I’m not a good enough mother for him even though they never say those things explicitly. But when somebody tells you that you just made a certain decision so that you could spend more time on Facebook, how is that not supposed to hurt? How is that not supposed to make you feel like you are letting your children down, like people think you are just that selfish?

So as a result, I withdrew more. I was more afraid of sharing the choices that I had made and that had worked for us than I ever was before. I left communities and groups where I felt othered and put down. There’s been a lot of stuff I wanted to post on Facebook or say to someone that I thought twice about and then didn’t. I let my fear and my insecurity control me.

And I hated it. Not only was I not being true to myself, the Melissa who loves to talk and debate and everything like that, but I was hiding my decisions, possibly from people who needed to hear about them. I avoided commenting on threads were people were asking for advice and everyone was going one direction when I thought differently because I was afraid of being ganged up on for giving different advice – because that’s happened to me and it still hurts, months later, that I felt so small and so put down by so many people. So I’ve stayed silent, even when it could have helped somebody else.

But I don’t want to do that anymore. The choices I’ve (we’ve) made, have really worked for me (us) and I want to be able to stand behind them. I want to be able to answer questions honestly. I want to not be afraid of sharing my opinion. I want to not feel like I have to be on the defensive about my choices. I don’t want to overshare (though I do sometimes, because when you find something that works for you, you want to share it with everyone you think it might help, in the same way that you want to share when you read a really amazing book) but I do want to share when appropriate. I want other people who do things that aren’t mainstream not to feel like they are the only ones doing things differently.

So here it goes. Here is as many things that I can think of that I have either a) at times been afraid to admit or b) been judged for/had mean things said about me. Here it is, all out on the table, because my opinions and my experience has a voice and a place am I don’t want to hide them anymore.

I got married at 20. I got pregnant at 20. I waited until I was married to have sex. I believe in Biblical marriage. I’m pro-life. I’m an independent. I’ve voted for Republicans. I’ve voted for Democrats. I’m a Christian. I had a natural birth. I breastfed Dominic. I’m still breastfeeding Dominic and he is 20 months old. He didn’t have a bottle until he was five months old. We waited until six months to give him any food other than breastmilk. We did baby led weaning. I babywear. He is not circumcised. I’m not a fan of co-sleeping. We did CIO (Ferber Method). We vaccinate. I’m a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes I want space to myself. I try to use gentle/positive discipline first whenever possible and I’m not a fan of spanking. We’re on WIC. We’re going to homeschool. I support the Common Core. I don’t support HSLDA. I believe that something more needs to be done to prevent gun crimes. I had prenatal depression. I struggle with worry and anxiety. I want to be green, but I’m only a little green. I eat pretty much a “standard American diet.” I feed Dominic hot dogs sometimes and he loves them. I love sex and I don’t want to be shy about it because I want to show that committed sex in marriage can be great. I am against a lot of forms of hormonal birth control. My house is rarely clean. I worry sometimes that people view me as a hypocrite or someone who is all talk and no action.

I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I can think of for now. This whole post, however, makes me think of this excellent article here. And if I have a sign, it wouldn’t say any of those above things. It would say something like “I’m more insecure than I appear” or “I’m terrified of failing.” Those are the lenses through which I view criticisms and attacks.

But today, I said these all out loud because they are my choices. And I stand by them as what has been best for my family and in some cases, for me. I don’t want to hide them away anymore. I want to not be afraid to admit these things, even though writing this post several times I’ve wanted to delete the whole thing. And if you think differently? That’s okay too, I just wish for is to have conversations about these things that are respectful and open and honest and not full of emotionally charged language designed to hurt.

These are my choices and I stand by them. And I’m not afraid to say them out loud.

Or at the very least, I’m trying not to be afraid.

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