When Wyatt was born he was born with a pretty bad tongue tie and therefore wasn’t able to latch properly. By the time we got it clipped, I think we missed the window for him to really grasp the concept (despite my VERY large and tearful effort to make it work). So, I ended up exclusively pumping for roughly 8 months. Towards the end of those 8 months I was really struggling with navigating working from home, taking care of Wyatt full time and trying to find time to pump in between all of that. My gut was telling me it was time to start weening off the pump and transitioning to formula. However, as a lot of moms can probably relate to, this is a tough decision. I sought advice from everyone I could think of that might be able to reinforce my belief that switching to formula might make life easier and that I wasn’t making this choice selfishly.
I got advice like, “Well what about making a pumping schedule? Blocking off time on your calendar? Pumping during naps?”
Or I would get, “I know what you mean, I’m still pumping at 11 months”.
This was all fantastic advice and feedback and if this had been a few months earlier when life was more manageable I would have taken all of that advice and ran with it. But I was desperate for relief and all I heard when I was told “I’m still pumping at 11 months but I feel your pain” was that I needed to push through this and quitting at 8 months was nothing compared to how long that person was still pumping.
While I know these fellow mamas were only giving me what I asked for, I quickly realized that I actually didn’t want advice. What I wanted was for someone to hear my cry for validation that I was doing the best I could and that switching to formula to make life easier on myself WAS the best choice.
I wanted someone to say to me, “girl, yes. I was in the same boat and I made the switch and it made life so much less chaotic while juggling work and mom life. Your baby will be 100% fine.”
I think this happens a lot along the motherhood journey. Another mom comes to you asking for advice but I think if you really listen to how they are asking for it, you might realize that all they want is for you to give them something to relate to that validates how they are feeling.
For example, I have a very dear friend with a little boy under one who is still waking up quite a bit at night. She is exhausted all the time which I know there are so many of us who can relate.
During this conversation, I caught myself giving her something that may have caused her to compare her little boy to mine. While she was telling me all about how hard it’s been, I responded with:
“See, Wyatt was always an excellent sleeper and it didn’t get REALLY bad for us honestly until before he turned two.”
Right there, I gave her something to compare to and not something she could relate to.
I basically put the thought in her head that something may be wrong with her child because MINE never had sleep issues. I may have made her feel like her child still waking up at all hours of the night was not normal when compared to how my baby slept.
What I should have done, even though Wyatt was a great sleeper as a baby, was think back into the depths of my brain for even one instance that he was up all night. I should have said, “Oh my gosh yeah, I know that’s so hard when it feels like they are waking up every hour.” I should have given her something she could relate to that made her say, “Right?! It’s so hard!”
Sometimes, moms aren’t asking for advice or tips. All they want is something to relate to, not something to compare to. They want to hear you say, “yes, I am struggling too”, or “ugh, yeah I remember that was a horrible phase, my little one went through it too”.
This is why I think it’s so important as moms to find your tribe. Find those women that know you so well and know when you are truly asking for advice and when you need them to remind you that you are not alone. I have a group of girls that I truly don’t know what I would do without. Two of them have been dealing with the “sending our kids back to school” aspect of coronavirus. In our group text there have been various occasions where someone has asked for advice following by “I think I am going to do this…”. Right there, they are telling us what they want to do and all they need is for the rest of us to say, “yes, do it. You’re making the best choice for your child because you are following your gut.”
I can’t count how many times over the last 2½ years how many times I just wanted to feel like I wasn’t alone. I can’t count how many times I was debating making a choice for my child and just needed someone to tell me they did the same exact thing. I can’t count how many times I needed someone to just say, “yeah same.” This motherhood journey looks different for everyone but in some ways is the exact same so let’s make sure we’re remembering that.