The other day a friend and I were at an event, and we bumped into another friend who had just had a baby. While new mom friend and I chatted about the glorious and not so glorious aspects of having a newborn, we talked about breastfeeding and the pitfalls one can find themselves in. I volunteered the information that I was still nursing baby Talley, who will turn one year old in a couple weeks. The new mom friend didn't bat an eye. My other friend however interjected with, "Dude, you're still breastfeeding Talley? That's gross."
To say I was taken aback would be an understatement, and although I was a little flustered, and felt my face get hot with embarrassment, I think I mustered something indignant along the lines of "It's not gross...". My friend responded by pointing out that Talley was almost 30 pounds, wasn't she? (True, she's a chunk). And that her being that big meant she was actually bigger than this woman's two year old (Also true). And she was walking already, and eating solid food, right? (Yes and yes, lots of it in fact). So because of all this, my friend deemed it gross for me to still be nursing. Fair enough, I suppose, everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how rude or misguided.
But still, the comment stung. Because really, we never win as mothers do we? Especially with breastfeeding, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you formula feed, you're in the wrong, if you nurse too long, you're in the wrong. I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Here I was, this mom blogger who wrote about being judged about breastfeeding for not long enough, and now I was getting judged for breastfeeding for too long. I mean, seriously?
What really hurt though, was the fact that here I am, a 37 year old mother of four (that's right, nearly TWENTY years out of actual high school), and I'm still getting bullied. And for a little bit, it was actually depressing, the feeling that we are still trapped in that mean girl high school nonsense where we have to tear each other down, even with little comments that can be passed off as just "snarky". That we really haven't come that far as adults, or maybe some of us have not, that we aren't above tearing someone down to build ourselves up. And to hit right where it hurts, your job as a mother, that's the lowest.
We teach our kids not to be bullies, but what we really need to do is to lead by example. My advice? Take a friendship red flag at face value and move on. If someone wants to make a nasty comment about your parenting choices, probably best to just jump ship and steer clear. There are countless reasons why someone would make a judgmental comment, some parents may be insecure about their choices and are looking for validation; other people feel that they need to prove that their way of parenting is the “right way.” And unfortunately, just like in every other area of life, some people are just jerks. Just like on Mamatoga, I have developed a no tolerance policy to unnecessary negativity directed at other moms, other women, and I have had to realize I haven't actually practiced that in real life as well. Up till now.
The bottom line is, just like I aim to teach my daughters and my sons, be kind. Think before you say things to someone else. And no matter what, if you are kind, you can always sit at my table.