When it comes to our children, we want to do everything right, and sometimes we don’t. I think we can move forward by admitting parenting mistakes to do better.
We cannot turn back time or undo irreversible decisions. We are stuck knowing that we chose wrong- even if it did not feel like a choice. How do we move forward from this?
Sometimes we choose to pretend that the facts are not true- we decide that people are making up stories because they have an ulterior motive; maybe to make us feel bad or show off their perfectness. We do this as a defense- because what will it mean if we admit that we made such horrible decisions on behalf of the beings we would give our lives for?
So we must perpetuate the lie. We gather all the information that we can to support it. We share it, we tout it, we get angry when someone tells us differently. If we stop doing this, if we accept that there was a better way, we might crumble with the overwhelming emotion of knowing we hurt our child.
And what can we do now? It is done. It is over. We can not go back in time.
I subscribed to this belief for too long. Instead of being defensive, I selectively chose what information I took in. I avoided books and blogs that talked about circumcision and babies being assaulted at birth. I turned the station when new information was shared about how drugs during birth affects babies.
When I hear these things though, I know they are true. I know that my babies should have come into this world naturally, quietly. They should have had the umbilical cord attached for a long time and rested comfortably on my chest until they found my breast. They should not have been vigorously scrubbed, stuck with needles and had their eyes shoved with drops.
They should not have been taken away from me.
I do not need a study to confirm that this is correct.
These practices are routine and so I can pretend that they are acceptable. I can talk about how really, none of this is a big deal. I can shout that people who say this have too much free time. I can preach that those who complain about their children’s birth experience lack gratitude for their children’s health. I can call this a “first-world” problem.
Instead I admit that I made uninformed choices, and that I am the only one to blame.
If I continued to pretend that my choices were good, my language would be different. All of the people with whom I interact would be encouraged to follow routine hospital procedures for the birth of their child. I would tell them that it is CRAZY to consider a home birth, and that those who tell you not to circumcise have adopted a cause because they are bored.
I would say these things only for my benefit though, so that I did not have to admit to myself and my children that I chose wrong.
Instead, I have admitted my mistakes. It is painful. When I think of my children’s births I am filled with sadness of what their first hours on Earth were like. They were assaulted. It was traumatic. It was violent. Never. Ever. Again. Not for a child of mine.
Maybe you formula fed and suspect deep down that if resources had been available you could have been a successful breastfeeder. Maybe you left your child to cry and knew with your innermost being that she needed you. Whatever it is, consider admitting it. Contemplate putting down your defenses and trusting that you will work through the gut-wrenching emotion.
When we pretend things are different than they are, it limits our opportunity for growth. Once we admit what we did wrong, it opens up a whole bunch of room to do better.