"The choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility" - Eleanor Roosevelt
Since becoming a mother, I have learned a very valuable lesson, a lesson that I believe to my core and am striving to live out daily. Some days I am successful, others I fall short, but always I know it is truth.
That although, we as mothers may do things differently, doesn't mean one is right and one is wrong.
The journey of motherhood starts when the pee stick says it starts and from that moment, for myself, I had to start making decisions. And in many cases, many people will want to help you make these decisions (whether you want their help or not).
The decision to drink caffeinated beverages, if and when announce your pregnancy on Facebook, and whether or not to invest in Belly Band or go straight to the all praise-worthy (but frightening) maternity jeans, are all minor decisions to be made in the early months. But as time progresses the decisions become more difficult, more controversial, the more complex. We face the decision to have an epidural or not, feed your baby breast-milk versus formula, cloth versus disposable diapering, or be a stay-at-home-mom verses "working-mother" (which I believe is a redundant phrase and will have to get into another time). I like all mothers faced these choices as well. And yes, they are choices. I understand that in some situations the choice may be decided for you due to circumstances, but they are choices nonetheless.
What I have sadly come to realize is that with each decision, there will be some applause and support (hopefully), but also a backlash of criticism, judgement, and disapproval. And sadly the result of this causes self-doubt, guilt, and possible resentment for a mother. This played out in my own life In relation to getting an epidural during labor. I won't go in to all of the pros and cons of this, because that is not what it is about. I went into labor "educated" and had what I considered to be resolved about my decision to "go natural". But when labor went awry and most of what we had learned in birthing class had become irrelevant, new decisions had to be made and plans changed. What I wasn't aware of at the time is the host of criticism I would receive, and the amount of guilt and failure I would be made to feel as a result. Each time I hear that woman who do things naturally are stronger, wiser, or more womanly I feel like an inadequate mother or woman. And I have to remind myself that 1.)no one was in my place but me and I made the best decision I could in my circumstances and 2.) my plan wasn't God's plan and it is only by His grace that things played out the way they did.
The greater lesson here, one I learned through this experience among many others is that all mothers have to make decisions. What is best for one mother may or may not be best for the next, that does not make it wrong. Each and every mother makes decisions based upon the knowledge we have, and the circumstances we are in. We try to do what is best for our family, for our children. And what is best for my child might not be what is best for yours. And just because someone else's decision is different does not give us the right to judge them, or think ourselves better. Motherhood should bring about a sense of camaraderie, that we are all in this battle together, trying to raise up the next generation; it is not an excuse to find fault in others. In a world full of choices and options, and in a culture or one-upping each other and fierce competition to the top judgment is too easy. I have felt the conviction to not fall into the trap. After all, we all know about walking in another's shoes.