Why do people think that because they do said "insert blah blah" here that they are better parents that you? Can you tell me exactly when "Parenting" became a competitive sport? I'm sure that you've been the object of (dis)approval at one time or another from a observing spectator, er, parent. And with the amount of skill, finesse and even teamwork required to raise a child, it really should be considered a sport.
The competition started when I first began announcing that I was pregnant (wow, over two years ago!) with random questions ranging from if I was going to breastfeed to how long I was planning to stay at home. I didn't consider those questions to be judgemental then, but in retrospect, the rebuttal from the interviewee is what tweaked me. Was I irked because I had no confidence as a new mom? Perhaps. But now as a veteran (ha!) mom of a busy 18 month old, I see those same questions as judgement or a way to rack up points for their 'team.' Just because I was doing something that was different than what they did, it was wrong. Does everyone on the planet take their coffee the same? Of course not- there is not one cookie-cutter choice for everyone.
"Oh, you're not going to breastfeed? Your baby *needs* breast milk to thrive!" Actually, she needed nourishment and milk period to thrive. Where it comes from was purely my choice. There are all kinds of organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA) and even the World Health Organization (WHO) that recommend breastfeeding, but also recognize- and don't chastise- that this isn't going to work for every Mommy for a multitude of reasons. Mine was because of a personal comfort level, I was going to return to work and didn't want to have to pump and I wanted to be able to eat and drink the same as I did pre-pregnancy. (Go ahead, call me selfish, or whatever you want.... I'm so over it.) Formula would be a black market item if it were a required part of parenting. As far as thriving, Little K just had her 18-month check up with glowing remarks; the same as all of her well-baby visits where she was above the 70th percentile with her measurements. I'm also aware that studies have shown that breastfed babies have better immune systems, but aside from a minor cold every once in awhile; she is the picture of health.
"Good moms breastfeed. It will be harder to bond with your child if you don't." I am a good mom; I know that because Little K shouts my name with excitement and glee every time she sees me. I was also able to share bonding with Jason; and her grandparents and our wonderful extended family also had prime opportunity at feedings to build a relationship with her. Furthermore, I feel that these opportunities have helped with separation anxiety issues and she knows that our family can provide for her needs whether it's from Mommy, Daddy, "Mammas" or BopPop or her many Aunties.
"Are you going to return to work?" This was the interesting one and divides a nation. In fact, I remember even seeing an Oprah episode on it a loooong time ago about the two camps. I was always planning on returning to work- I love my job; we need two incomes and for me, working outside the home is what makes me feel fulfilled and complete. I feel that I am a better mom because of it. This choice works very well for our family. We are also so very fortunate that our daycare situation is primarily K's grandparents or a very close family friend; I know that she is in great hands while I'm off at work. Can you believe that I was even shunned from a "Mom's Group" because of this? Yes, those judgemental beyotches were quite appalled that I was planning on being a 'working mom'- please note the dramatic air quotes that accompany this stereotype. Like crack mom, only worse....
And now there are lots of questions about how Jason and I actually parent her. I take most of these with a grain of salt and do consider the source. Or turn around and ask why they want to know- if it is from a soon-to-be parent, I know it's curiosity; if it's from an 'outsider looking in,' I know it's probably well-meaning but I don't feel like explaining and instead let them do all the talking as that's what they wanted in the first place- to tell you what their experiences were like. She's clean, healthy and well fed; furthermore, she is also sweet, affectionate and extraordinarily happy- and in the game of parenting that's worth more that a World Series pennant, the Super Bowl Trophy, a Stanley Cup or a gold medal.