There is an article that went viral about an OBGYN who wrote about why she failed at breastfeeding. She talked about how she always told her patients that breastfeeding is best, but when she had her own children, she couldn’t do it. She goes on to talk about how she felt like such a failure because she always encouraged her patients to do it, to struggle through it; after all, it is best. Now, she tells moms who are having a hard time that it is ok not to do it. It is ok to stop.
Well, you can imagine what happened on the breastfeeding group I belong to. It honestly made my blood boil. "I would never choose her as a doctor," they said. "I can’t believe she is telling people it is ok not to breastfeed," and so on and on. I wanted to chime in but I had learned my lesson from last week.
What I wanted to say is that this woman was not writing as a doctor, she was writing as a mom. She was making herself vulnerable. She was sharing her experience at what she felt was a failure. She was doing something so important, something all of us should do more often for others; she was letting other moms off the hook.
Off the hook. What a concept.
This isn’t about failing at breastfeeding. This is about support. The breastfeeding group I am a part of is sometimes the most unsupportive place I have ever known. The only support that is given is to the other women who are doing exactly as they are doing. Like I said, my breastfed baby sleeps so I’m shunned. God forbid I chimed in about the OBGYN. God forbid I praised her courage to share her story.
What I learned is this. Sometimes we need others to let us off the hook.
So, your daughter only eats 3 vegetables? Well, those vegetables give her everything she needs to grow and be healthy. Off the hook.
Your son won’t sit in the stroller. Well, one day he will. It is just a moment in time. Off the hook.
You forgot to give your daughter lunch money today. Well, I forgot last week. Off the hook.
We are not perfect. We are human beings full of mistakes, especially as parents. My mom lets me off the hook, constantly.
“Mom, I lost it today.” Well, “you aren’t getting much sleep. You are just tired. Tomorrow will be a better day.” Off. The. Hook.
We should all be so strong and brave as the woman who wrote that article. We should all share our struggles more readily, not to make others feel better, but to unite one another. After all, we all have struggles. We all forget to do things. We all drop the ball from time to time. We fail. We suck. We give in. We don’t do it by the book.
Friends remind me to get tap shoes, sign up for art, check the portal for teacher assignments. I have friends who will send me videos of their kids throwing tantrums. Friends who consistently let me off the hook, should know, it unifies. It makes us feel as one. And from time to time, it is in the failures that parents can find their hidden strengths and their lessons.
Sometimes, there is more courage in admitting failure. And in that admittance, there is something that peeks through so strongly, hope.
Try to be great. But, if it is one of those days, know that you aren’t alone. I mean, I have 3 sick kids on a week-long vacation. Sore throats. Tantrums trying to take Tylenol. Losing my cool. These things don’t make us failures. They make us human. It IS ok when things don’t go exactly as planned.
You are off the hook.
~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies.