Why does it always seem like the people most likely to criticize your mothering skills are other moms? Where's the solidarity? Which is why it was so disheartening to read this mom's open letter about buying formula at Target. A stranger saw her shopping for formula and felt that would be the time to go over to her and give her the most tired piece of mom advice ever, "breast is best!" Not cool.
The writer of the letter goes into detail about her own struggles trying to feed her baby and launches a full defense of her decision to buy formula. She explains all the crying and sleepless nights her baby went through trying to digest breast milk. And, in an emotional confession every other mom should recognize, she explains how she felt guilty about feeding her baby formula because she too thought "breast was best," according to TODAY:
And then finally, we tried the hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula you saw me buying today. And the screaming lessened. And my baby started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping. And I cried. Because I thought breast was best. I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn't be as healthy on formula. I know you think I must not care or I'm lazy, or maybe you were genuinely trying to be helpful and thought no one had ever told me the benefits of breastfeeding.
I hope that lady who just couldn't let that moment go by without a sanctimonious lecture gets a chance to read this and realizes that none of no one knows what challenges other moms are facing, but one thing is absolutely certain: all moms doing the very best they can. So let's remember to treat one another accordingly.
The mom who drops her kid off at school just about every day with his shoes on the wrong feet — she's doing the best she can. The mom who made cereal for dinner last night because she was too tired for anything else — she's doing the best she can. The mom who's using a leash so she doesn't lose her toddler in the mall again, and even the one who you just heard screaming at her kids in the grocery store — all of them are just trying to get through their days. They know better than anyone exactly where they're not perfect and the last thing they need is a reminder that what they're doing is inferior or that something else would be better. It's just about the meanest thing you can do to a fellow parent, and all moms should to do their part to help stop the judgment.
Parenthood is humbling and hard, and no one knows that better than another parent in the struggle. Parents should share their experiences freely, because that's how everyone can learn. It's the judgement that really sucks. And, somehow, when it's coming from a fellow parent, the criticism stings just a little bit more. Somehow it confirms a parent's worst fears — that they're going to totally screw up their babies. But, of course, any experienced parent will tell you, if they're being honest, that's not really possible when they're doing what's best for their child in that unique situation.
The mom just trying to buy formula at Target put it this way.
So, dear stranger, next time you see someone buying formula, try to remember that mamas should support each other. Think about everything you might not know. Remind yourself that "fed is best" and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what's best for them.
Love, Another Mom Doing Her Best and a Happier Formula-Fed Baby