On Mom Shaming

imageI’ll readily admit, before I had kids I didn’t really buy into the whole “mom shaming” concept. Of course I was, and still am, fully aware of the judgement that exists, both from other moms and myself. However I somehow had it in my mind that I would be immune to the judgment, that somehow it wouldn’t bother me, that perhaps I just “wouldn’t let myself” be exposed to situations which could leave me feeling judged. And don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of judging, I mean, this entire post is me judging others for judging for goodness sake.

But anyway, as I said before, if parenting does one thing for you it will teach you to never say never. It wasn’t until I had my own munchkins that I realized my idyllic sense of no judgement was not only unrealistic but naive. It started before I even gave birth to the twins. “Oh, you’re not scheduling a- c section? Oh, you don’t want that toy/blanket/clothing it will absolutely maim/harm/kill your child. You’re eating what? You’re walking where?!” Still I clung to my foolish belief that it would dissipate after the twins arrived and everyone saw what a capable mother I was (ha ha).

It did not. It increased, exponentially. Strangers feel no shame in approaching me to berate me on my mothering choices. “You’re not sleep training?! You haven’t gotten them on a schedule yet?! You don’t have a set bedtime?!” “Oh…you’re letting them have screen time already?” (Yes, I needed to pee. And it’s really hard to pee when every muscle in my body is tense because my children are screaming like they’re being torn asunder. Don’t worry, I’m only letting them watch The Exorcist so it’s cool). image
And then, “you’re BREASTFEEDING?! TWINS?! YOU HAVEN’T FED THEM SOLIDS YET?! You know you can now right…” (Really I had NO idea, I’ve been a mom for nine months now but have been living under a rock so had no idea of common practices and approaches to raising babies). “Oh wow, they’re not crawling yet? You do know it’s important they crawl right …” Actually I hang them from their ankles at night to prohibit crawling, but thanks for your concern.

Clearly, I have not only lost my marbles but probably had none to begin with. And my poor children, well obviously they’re hopelessly screwed, at least according to the general populace.

Moms are vulnerable, especially new moms. I am no exception to that, and despite my wonderful support team of husband, family and friends I will admit that the judgement has shaken me more than a time or two and caused me to retreat home viciously questioning my own abilities as a parent. Why weren’t they crawling?! Was it tummy time?! Maybe I didn’t do it enough/well/right?! They are stressed today, is it my lack of scheduling?! Why do they hate car rides so much?! It’s easy to have your “mama knows best” resolve shaken when well meaning friends and relatives have no hesitation in criticizing you or sharing their opinion.

What I truly abhor the most is the brag shaming. “My child is Superman, he crawled at 2 months!” “My pediatrician said my baby is basically the next improved version of Einstein, he’s speaking 7 languages at 7 months old!” While I am proud of my children and of course personally think they are the brightest most beautiful creatures to ever grace the planet, I do not make post after post about this. I know how it feels to see that and immediately wonder why your child hasn’t reached that milestone. Every child is different, and while everyone says to celebrate that and that every child learns at their own pace (which IS true) many frequently make that statement and then immediately post as to how advanced their child is compared to every other single child in the universe. And they should see their kiddo as amazing, beautiful, unequaled. They’re the parent. That’s their job. (Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in teaching your children that that they poop gold, sneeze rainbow dust and in general do no wrong, thereby giving them not only a false sense of reality but also turning them into insufferable jerks, but that’s another post for another day).

imageJudging is part of human nature, we can’t help it. But we can shut our mouths about it. So judge away, mamas, I’m right there with you, but let’s keep it to ourselves. We never know when we might be at the  receiving end.

A Place to Put Them, Gadgets and Gizmos

imageMy husband and I are not big on ‘stuff’, however it became evident to me after the babies arrived we were going to need SOME stuff. I took to Craigslist and the first item I found was an exersaucer, it’s still a little big for them and as you can see from his expression, my son thinks the flapping starfish is not to be trusted. My next find was a baby play gym, complete with kick pad piano. The wonderful lady we bought it from threw in a second play gym when she heard we had twins, and bless her heart, have we ever loved it. We ended up buying a few more things from her, namely, a crib mobile, bouncy seat, and auto swing. As she said, sometimes you just need to have somewhere to put the baby and go to the bathroom.

You’ve already heard me talk about our bassinets, wonderful whirring imageand rocking devices that do sometimes soothe and keep a wee one sleeping. When we first started out on our pregnancy journey, researching what type of gizmos and gadgets we wanted was overwhelming, to say the least. You cannot just choose color and style for anything, there are literally dozens of options no matter what type of device you are considering purchasing. Stroller shopping is equal in my opinion to car shopping, not just in stress levels but wow, do those things ever get expensive!

imageYes, it’s true, baby stuff can take over your house, but there are a few things that are so worth it. The play gyms are amazing, while they never lay there too long it gives them just the right amount of stimulation. They don’t get overwhelmed, yet it normally wears them out enough to take a nap. Sometimes my little boy will alternate enthusiastic play with cat naps, all in the same gym. It’s wonderful.

The swing is amazing, you can crank it up and hang things off the top imagefor them to look at in wonder as it goes back and forth over their little heads. And as I’ve mentioned before, the bouncy seats are the only way I ever shower. The crib mobile is mandatory to our nighttime routine, or to diaper changes in general. One baby can lie in the crib and stare in fascination at the swinging jungle creatures that rotate to alternating clips of Debussy, Chopin, and Bach while the other baby enjoys a diaper change. (These days, my babies LOVE diaper changes. Sometimes I’ll change them even when they’re not imagedirty just to break the fussy cycle).

We’ll even put both babies under the mobile to brush our teeth, etc, and most of the time it’s distracting enough to them that they stay happy until it’s time to nurse to sleep. We recently acquired Bumbo seats, (due to having a gift card we purchased ours at Babies R Us, but I recommend Amazon due to slightly better pricing/free shipping).image

My babies are still a little young for the Bumbo, but we’ve been using it in tiny increments, as especially my boy gets super excited he can sit up in it. It’s a wonderful little contraption, small and compact, even the tray stores on the back of the seat. We do have Boppy pillows, I used them like crazy for the first month but have less so as of late, I do use it to prop them up after eating sometimes but don’t use it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps I will use it more a they get older. In the meantime, I do highly imagerecommend glowing rubber duckies.

Devices I am eager to use include the Johnny jump ups my parents got them, as much as my babies like to bounce and pretend to stand I foresee lots of use in those. In short, while you don’t need to turn your house into a display case for Buy Buy Baby, I highly recommend having a few key baby gadgets and gizmos, for as a dear friend said to me, sometimes you just have to have a place to put them.

Baby Acrobatics

Of all the wonderful aspects of parenting multitasking is an area in which you are guaranteed almost constant practice. One example would be taking a shower while home alone. (I highly recommend bouncy seats for this endeavor.) Before children, showers were not nearly so exciting. Now I simultaneously scrub, sing, (this is the way we shave our armpits, shave our armpits, shave our armpits) make crazy faces and reach out with a careful toe to bounce the seat when someone gets worried where mommy is, all while reassuring my wee ones ‘mommy is almost done! Just one more armpit!’.

My husband calls it Baby Acrobatics, as seen here in this pic of him bouncing one baby, holding the stroller with a foot and shielding the other baby from the sun for a diaper change.

We are getting quite accomplished with Baby Acrobatics. At bed time we are a well oiled machine, one changes a diaper while another fastens pajamas, trade babies! Now turn down the bed swaddle that baby hand over the other, turn on the mobile and turn off the light. All while carrying on a conversation that is frequently interrupted with my husband stopping to sing a soothing bit of a song when a tired baby starts to fuss. Meal preparations, eating, bedtime, phone calls, multitasking has become the norm at our house. Need me to make a phone call? No problem! Just let me bounce this baby/feed that cat/chop that carrot while I do.

Occasionally I will set the play gyms or bouncy seats in the kitchen instead of wearing the babies to avoid spattering one with hot oil or having them near while shredding cheese or other dangerous cooking tasks.


During these times I can find at least two pairs of eyes on me at all times due to the babies and whichever cats have joined us. Cooking becomes a speedy rotation of head pats, tummy tickles, repressing mobile buttons and shaking toys. ‘Oh, you sound busy’, says the person on the phone. ‘Shall we talk later?’ No not to worry, later I will be washing diapers, scrubbing heads, slathering lotion and singing lullabies.  Busy? Always. But I love it.

Regarding Bedtime, or the Lack Thereof

imageIll be the first to admit bedtime is rather unorthodox in our house. Nap times also follow a more casual pattern, my little ones tend to do the ‘plop and drop’, rather than regularly scheduled naps. I do make certain that if they don’t sleep we at least do quiet time every hour and a half, as I have discovered going much longer than that without rest results in an acute case of windmill mode. Occasionally one or the other, (or both) will go on a nap strike despite my efforts and the dire and unfortunate state of windmill mode ensues.

Due to my teaching schedule, we eat dinner pretty late. Our usual evening schedule consists of dinner after 8pm, making an early bedtime for the kiddos very difficult if we hope to have any family time at all. After I finish teaching, we feed, change and put the babies in their jammies, sometimes giving them a quick bath. They both then usually fall asleep near us in their bouncy seats, leaving us a few quiet moments to eat dinner and catch up on the day. We all four go to bed at the same time. Diapers are changed for the last time, we swaddle them up, and they both nurse to sleep. Swaddling was something we introduced later, our first attempt was not well received by my itty bitties, (think full fledged screaming rebellion). Now they love it, it has an instant calming effect and it is an important part of our little bedtime routine. I don’t have a very set routine, we try to read a story before they pass out and we nurse and cuddle to sleep, but that’s about it.

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Now, bedtime is different for every family, and you have do what works for you. Last week I had a wave of mama guilt that perhaps I should be having the babies to sleep at a certain time every night, and that maybe my lack of bedtime routine was setting us all up for disaster. I chose a night in which I didn’t teach as late, and we did bathtime, story time, and to bed by 8pm. At first, they crashed into what appeared to be a deep sleep. However, a mere 15 minutes later, bright, eager little eyes were darting around the room and smiles and giggles were growing in volume. I got back into bed and nursed them to sleep again. A little bit later, the wiggles started and my tiny wrapped munchkins were wide awake again. (I do highly recommend this process if you desire to get your daily workout in while trying to get your babies to sleep. Up, down, into bed, out of bed. Repeat).

This process continued for over the next few hours, when they finally fell asleep for good. (Or at least for the next two hours). They woke up unusually early the next day and with a major case of Cranky Baby-itis.  (Mama also had an equally major case of  Cranky Mama-itis).

After pondering the failure of our attempted bedtime, I realized I could either commit to this process and keep at it until they learned the habit and it worked, or I could continue with our current routine which is working great. They go to sleep at some time before 10, they fall asleep fast and stay asleep, and then stay in bed until usually after 9 with a quick nursing snack or two. They wake up full of smiles and in the most wonderful moods. Thus, I determined that, at least for now, a strict bedtime was not something I deemed worthy of the effort. I get up early in the morning while they’re sleeping and that gives me a little time to accomplish some house chores and work, etc. I do like that my children seem to be learning flexibility in scheduling, and as they grow older hopefully won’t have their balance completely upset when we have events, go traveling, etc.

Will this routine continue working? I don’t know, as I said before parenting is a constantly changing learning process. I do know it worked for my parents and my sisters, and I love that growing up, while we always got our needed sleep, we also got to watch fireworks and roast marshmallows and have many experiences a strict bedtime would not have permitted us to partake in. I hope to be able for my own children to have those experiences, I know they were a huge important part of my childhood. And of course, what works for babies today may not work tomorrow, and hence why my personal mama playbook is an ongoing source of discovery.