When Yanice was 3 years old he spent 5 days in hospital. He hated every minute so as a treat and to cheer him up I took him into the capital city of Trinidad to experience the splendor of our carnival. I made him a makeshift costume and carried him on my shoulders for hours on end, taking him off to eat, use the toilet or when he asked to have a run around. He even had a nap while up there.
It was two days after he was discharged and I had been given the all clear by the doctors who looked after him and my sister who is also a doctor. He enjoyed it so much he asked me to take him again the next day.
There was a photo taken of us by a journalist with him sitting on my shoulders. It appeared in the online media coverage of carnival. It was meant to be a beautiful photo portraying a mother’s strength and love. Instead it was used in court during a custody battle for my son to provide photo evidence to support the accusation that I am a terrible person and should not be allowed custody of my son. MY son!
I was labelled as a bad mom. Irresponsible and selfish.
It wasn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.
We are going to get critisised for the decisions and choices we make as parents – daily. Even by the people we least expect and especially by other moms who should know better.
Like the time I bought my son a doll for Christmas because he asked Santa for one. I should not encourage him because he’s a boy and should play with cars, right?
Or the time I was so wicked to allow my vegetarian son to eat sausages because I didn’t tell him sausages are meat. I should let him go hungry and insult our host who cooked us those sausages, right?
Or the time I said I am exhausted from breastfeeding and how unenjoyable it is and how I wish my newborn will take a bottle. I should never ever bottle feed my child and worst yet, never ever admit out loud that motherhood can be hard and shitty, right?
I should not go back to work – it’s selfish but I should not stay at home either – I’m setting a bad example. I should not cosleep – it’s dangerous and irresponsible but I should not let them sleep in their own bed either – it gives them anxiety. I should not give them chores – they should be allowed to enjoy childhood but I should not over indulge them either – they will grow up not knowing responsibility.
I should not feed formula milk, I should not circumcise, I should not tell them the truth about how babies are born when they are 5 years old, I should not swear in front of them even by accident, I should not feed them a vegetarian diet, I should not pierce my daughter’s ears, I should not give them screen time.
I should enjoy every minute of motherhood as it is a great blessing and only selfish and ungrateful mom, undeserving of the privaledge would ever sometimes feel they don’t want to be a Mom today.
I should make friends with the mom sof their friends and socialise with them only, neglecting my own life and my own friends because that’s just what good moms do.
I should not wear clothes that make me feel sexy, say goodbye to cleavage because moms don’t dress like that.
I should not go on trips without the kids and I certainly should not say how much I don’t miss my kids at all while I am on one of those glorious trips.
I should forget who I once was because now I am a Mom and nothing else.
Boys should play with trucks and wear blue. Girls should play with dolls and wear pink. But remember to teach them about gender neutrality and equality at the same time!
Rules rules rules. Who makes these fucking rules?!
Motherhood is a beautiful journey that is constantly bombarded and clouded by judgement. How do you fight it?
My rule is simple. Raise good kids, kind kids, happy kids and learn to give zero fucks about what people think.
Whatever choices you make to get there is good parenting! No book and no society could teach you that.
Surround them with love in the best way YOU know how. This is YOUR journey and you know best.