one size fits all – or. you know. not.

i wish that i would have written THIS article. because it beautifully sums up what is wrong with people’s perceptions of what normal/average/healthy is.  for all children, and people- that don’t fit perfectly on a graph..

do you have, or know a breastfed baby that is ‘overweight’ ? read up

i have been wanting to share this for a while, trying to formulate a post about what it is like for mamas who have children that don’t fit in with the ‘norm’. children that fall below, or excel above the boring average line. mothers who have perfectly healthy babies that are underweight, and those with babies that are over. children that take longer to reach milestones, and children that laugh at milestones as they race past them.

it’s all such a personal thing, this mothering life.. and it’s also so very public. we raise our babies together, we live in society together. we rely on other mamas and build our tribes.

after receiving a comment from a woman- i’m still puzzled by what her intention is exactly

‘I seriously love your webpage and I’ve been following you for months….but I gotta say….your daughter is so OVER-WEIGHT. I understand how you feel about breast-feeding, I totally get that. But she’s got a bunch of teeth now, right? She’s eating real food. Why are you still breast-feeding too? She’s been so so big for a long time now. Usually babies get chubby before they learn how to walk, but once they are up and running, that weight falls off. Claire is still big, so that means either she’s getting in too many calories or she’s not running around enough. I am betting she’s taking in too much calories. I really don’t want to come off as a bitch and I know it’s none of my business. But I am sure I’m not the only person who see’s the pictures of your adorable daughter and wonders why you think it’s so beautiful that she’s so large. Being healthy is one thing, yes your breast milk DID ALL THAT. But she’s this big now, I really hope you don’t continue on thinking that over-weight is fine.’

 

when i first read that, my heart started pounding.. deep in my stomach. the heat rising to my face, flushed.. embarrassed almost. feeling vulnerable and like a protective mama bear. and as i’ve been sitting here going through different emotions on how to approach this.. well, i’m making very public- because i know that too many other mamas deal with discrimination, nasty comments from friends, family and strangers about their parenting style, their child’s development and so on. i generally try to be very honest and open about things that society doesn’t always accept- from beauty and health, to parenting.

‘i really don’t want to come off as a bitch and i know it’s none of my business’
correct, it IS none of your business. and congratulations, you totally came off as a bitch..
‘i am sure i’m not the only person who see’s the pictures of your adorable daughter and wonders why you think it’s so beautiful that she’s so large’
i don’t really care what people think i think. and i think that my daughter is beautiful because she is. i would think she is beautiful if she was tiny and petite, or average, or exactly what she is.

what is most disturbing about strangers passing remarks to mothers about their children- is that they act as if they come from a place of well meaning- and the remarks and unsolicited advice are actually hurtful, and downright ignorant. what’s even sadder- is that there are so many mamas that are unsupported, in their household and in their community. they don’t have the tribe to reach out to for reassurance, and so they cave to the pressures of what idiots are telling them. regretfully, going against their best judgement and instincts- because someone thinks that they know better, and decided to take the time to ‘not sound like a bitch’.

i’d also like to bring light to the fact that breastmilk is the very best food for babies and children- and that whether they are walking, or talking, or have teeth- is absolutely no indication that they should stop breastfeeding. in fact, there is NO medical reason that you should stop breastfeeding before your child naturally weans, unless there is a cause of distress in the breastfeeding relationship between mama and child.

if a medical professional advises you to end your breastfeeding relationship- and it goes against your instincts, please seek a second and third opinion.. contact your local la leche league or lactation consultant, they are everywhere- and can help to arm you with information, scientific evidence, and ways to deal with discrimination.

mama, only you know your baby best.

and to those who would like to ‘not sound like a bitch’ then stop.
when the words ‘i know it’s probably none of my business but…’ come out of your mouth- stop.
when ‘i don’t mean to sound like a bitch’ comes into your head- know that whatever you are about to say, regardless of the intention meant- makes you sound more than a bitch. so. just don’t.
think. and think again. and probably just keep your thoughts to yourself, because only a mama knows her baby best. and who are you anyway?

27 Comments

  1. Cass said . . .

    Perfectly said.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Cat said . . .

    stereo types
    shards from a world trying to control whats normal, right, acceptable……
    funny
    when I saw those pictures I admired you as a mother
    I love what you wrote Darcy about loving Claire because she is…
    powerful
    each of my boys came in different packages
    different wiring
    different challenges
    different
    different
    but I am with you
    I love them because they are
    and they just make my life a better one!

    love and light

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  3. Niamh said . . .

    Hear Hear!
    You are a wonderful, inspirational mother, and a beautiful person inside and out, and so is your perfect daughter. Every atom of her being resonates with love, because she has been fed with love, raised on love, she IS love, the very embodiment of it.
    You are doing such a beautiful job of documenting her life, and your love for her, the greatest gift to her will be sitting down some day and showing her this blog, allowing her to read your words, your tribute to her.
    You are followed by (I’m sure) hundreds of kindred spirits, people who love to celebrate in the joy of your life, and delight in watching Claire grow and develop. Please don’t let one mean-spirited, insecure and obviously jealous person take away from any of this. Show Claire how we deal with the nay-sayers, we pity them, and move on.
    Love and strength to you Mama
    xxx

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Jen said . . .

    Claire is beautiful, and you are a wonderful mother who loves her daughter very, very much. Parenting is hard enough without the judgmental pokes and jabs from others. These comments really hurt when they’re from friends and family, but truly sting when they come from someone that does not know you at all. They leave you feeling vulnerable and judged when you should be enjoying every fleeting moment with your growing child – moments that will never come around again. I breastfed my two children as long as they wanted, and tried so very hard to ignore those that were trying to steal from me what was truly none of their business. And the fact that you continue to remain so public with this is something that I admire.

    All children, like all adults, are different, wonderful and perfect in their own individual ways. Erin, we’ve never met, but I’ve admired your art and your thoughts through this blog for a while. This post is another example of why I keep coming back. Thank you.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
  5. Mairead Murphy said . . .

    That’s an extraordinary remark from that woman re your daughter(who is gorgeous).There is a huge range of weight and height in babies.They are all individuals ..not little robots.I was about to weigh my daughter but the scales needs a new battery…she is 8 years old -was a 9 lb baby and she is now about 2 and a half stone-absolutely tiny.She breastfed for 5 and a half years and eats small meals.She is very adventurous in her tastes.So does that lady think that i am depriving my little one of food ??Always amazes me that other women are so nasty to each other.Be strong Erin!

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Sue said . . .

    Claire is just perfectly beautiful as is her mama :)
    I love reading your lovely blog for all its honesty and find it unbelievable that someone could think they have a right to be so utterly judgemental!
    I breastfed my little boy for 3 years and am proud of it, you are a wonderful mother :)
    Love sue x

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  7. Cat said . . .

    OMG
    I can’t believe I wrote your name as Darcy instead of Erin!!!!!
    I think I have been doing that for a while!!!
    LOL
    what a nut bar

    love and light

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  8. Georgia said . . .

    Wow.

    “But I am sure I’m not the only person who see’s the pictures of your adorable daughter and wonders why you think it’s so beautiful that she’s so large.”

    I just. Don’t. Even. What. The. Heck.

    Seriously fucking rude. What the hell. Thank fuck that ladies child presumably fits into what is considered ‘normal’ so she isn’t shaming that poor thing about being healthy and beautiful. WHAT. THE. HELL.

    I am so glad that Claire got a mama who understands what is healthy and what *is* normal and beautiful for her daughter.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  9. Sarah said . . .

    My little mama tribe and I think that this was a great response. It’s no ones business and you know what is best for you baby. I read this to my girl friends at work and we are always so impressed on your insight and your words. Love ya

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  10. Nicole said . . .

    This was an awesome post, Erin. I love that you took someone’s negative remarks and turned it into something positive and encouraging for mamas everywhere. Bravo! (From the mama of babies who fall off the charts and get tinier the older they get and breastfeed as long as they want to. Not everyone is going to fit onto a chart that is all about averages. We are individuals.)

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  11. Michele said . . .

    I am not a mother…..but I’ll go ahead and voice my opinion on this topic.
    There is an old, old Twilight episode I saw years ago….a woman had surgery. All the nurses and doctors around her were bemoaning the fact that they hoped the face surgery she had was going to work…that she would look normal….. otherwise they’d have to send her to the place where the abnormal people lived (mind you … you did not see the faces of the nurses and doctors…camera is on the lady with the bandaged face.)…..the patient bemoaned the fact that all she wanted was to fit in….to look normal…… Anyway cut to the end scene once the bandages came off …the dramatic music tells us what we already know….SURGERY WAS NOT A SUCCESS…camera goes to the patient and she is drop dead beautiful …. camera goes to the nurses and doctors….. and they had pig snouts for noses. Episode was called “The Eye of the Beholder” and it is a powerful message desperately needed in this day and age more than ever. How dare *anyone* pass judgement on another such as that commenter did………**especially** a child who knows nothing but love. No wonder our children grow up with low self esteem and confidence issues!!!!!

    Claire has – since I saw the first photo of her posted here – looked as if she was straight out of a Renaissance painting. If you spend any time in a museum you witness paintings where the women and children are not skinny but plump….where statues show the real lovely beautiful joyful body. Where rolls of fat were celebrated and were a status symbol …. you were wealthy enough to eat!

    Sorry for the long post. Her comment was ridiculous. Erin … you are a beautiful and caring mother. Give your cherub daughter a big fat kiss from me and rejoice that she is PURE LOVE! xo michele

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  12. Mary said . . .

    Very well said.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink
  13. Marme said . . .

    That’s my strong girl, I raised you not to take crap and you don’t. Some people just weren’t as lucky to have a wonderful Mom that taught them to be kind and strong. I love you

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  14. brooke said . . .

    thank you for addressing this. it is so difficult to deal with unsolicited advice, from any quarter, well-meaning or otherwise.

    every time I see pics of your daughter I love how confident, thoughtful and happy she seems. what an inspiration. :)

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  15. Erin said . . .

    Wonderfully said! Seeing pictures of of Sweet Claire brings joy to my heart. She is such a beautiful soul!

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  16. d said . . .

    I’ve always been happy to have a physicians opinion as a parent. Everyone else’s opinion doesn’t really resonate with me. I work with babies every day who have syndromes like preder willi, pica, things id never known existed. I’ve always been very aware of what my loving health care provider shares with me, because as a mom, I don’t always know best. I’m happy that you know that Claire is healthy because she is cared for, and so well loved. I’m certain your doctor confirms your doctor has confirmed your mothers insinct. It always makes me feel as if I’m doing my best to ensure im right. my mother’s instinct made me aware that my son has a learning disability . the s chools child study team thought me .. the only thing I have to confirm my mother’s instinct was a neurologist . thank god I found that doctor . because my son is now thriving in happy . I am grateful. we are all built differently, and it is so nice to have people who help us navigate the beauty of morherhood. Happy 18 months to you both.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  17. Brooke said . . .

    Your beautiful daughter is perfection. Perfection. The kind of stunning that makes me want to jump through the computer screen and kiss her.

    We’ve got a few things happening here. 1) Judgement & Presumption 2) Ignorance and 3) Irrelevance.

    1) Good for you for putting nosey, judgemental people in their place. Let squirrels natter.

    2) The most important way for humans to find their natural weight is to – as babies – eat freely, hopefully from mama but if not, from another nutritious source in the arms of someone who honors their appetite and signals of appetite.

    3) Every seriously yummy chubbo healthy breastfed human I’ve known as a baby has become the leanest, most natural weight adult I know. Often petite and dainty. It’s almost an opposite correlation :) (My sister, niece and one of my best friends are perfect examples.) And if not, there is nothing wrong with robust girls like me!!!

    I’ve shared with you before about my feelings around the wisdom of breastmilk – my own experiments of how it changed composition by child and person. I believe it. You are making the perfect milk for your babe and she – in her innate wisdom – alters her appetite to accept all forms of nutrition. There is a reason – a REASON – that both the WHO and AMA have recommended breastfeeding until age 2. Long after a human can also eat food. Hello????

    With two children of totally different body types and my own unique breastmilk composition, the only thing I did *right* was to offer them the breast as long as they wanted. Sometimes nutrition, sometimes antibodies, sometimes comfort…it was worth every cuddly moment.

    How I wish this conversation did not even need to happen. That people would understand how to embrace and love. That’s it. Embrace and love. Without qualifiers or explanations or defense or justification. Just love. Not to mention crazy weird bizarre projections of adult concerns on a baby!

    I am proud of you for speaking your truth. But I’m sad you even had to have a moment of that ‘ugh’ in your gut. Especially over something – someone – as perfect and gorgeous as your daughter.

    If you could only count the number of us who see her as you do….pure perfection. I hope you know you are not alone in your adoration of that gorgeous girl.

    Posted March 1, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  18. toni said . . .

    Love you and claire.
    as you both are.
    beautiful.
    inside and out.
    xo

    Posted March 2, 2012 at 12:11 am | Permalink
  19. Sid said . . .

    I’m so sorry some ignorant “concern troll” decided to so helpfully (note the deep sarcasm) express her concern about your beautiful healthy child. But sadly I’m not shocked. So much knowledge about how normal healthy human babies should look and grow has been lost. Believe me, those of us with smaller (but healthy) exclusively breastfed babies also get to deal with this type of utter BS.

    If it helps, I’m actually a terribly envious of the obivous quality of your milk :)

    Posted March 2, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  20. Nicole said . . .

    YAY!! I get to comment! I read every entry you post and I feel SUCH a connection to you and yet I never comment.

    I have 4 kids and my experience has been the polar opposite. My kids haven’t met the “chart”. They’re so far below the chart that they’ve made their own chart down there (for both weight and height, incidentally). For the first 2 my ped was absolutely lovely. She’d laugh and say that clearly the kid was healthy and breastmilk was the best thing for them so as long as we were nursing she wasn’t worried (I nursed my 1st 2 to 4.5 and 4, my 3rd is almost weaned at almost 4 and my 20mo is still nursing strong). But then I had my 3rd (and 4th) kid at home and to my ped that was the most negligent, abusive thing a mother could ever do. When my 3rd ended up below the charts she diagnosed him as “failure to thrive” and accused me multiple times of starving him or just not understanding how to feed him. FTT is a mandatory reporting dx for social services so I lived under the threat of being investigated. I was referred for test after test and to specialist after specialist. Every specialist said the same thing: this child is THRIVING, you’re doing great, keep doing it!! But my ped would not let it go. I finally switched peds to a ped who looks at the chart, laughs and says clearly my kids are thriving and have small genes.

    So I don’t get what it’s like to get that kind of hateful message, but I do get what it’s like to have your child grow exactly the way your child needs to grow and be accused of being at fault for that. Really. Awful. Feeling. I’ve been told countless times that I must not have much milk (uhhh, at one point I was BFing 2 kids and pumping for a friend who had to wean abruptly. Lots of milk here). Or that my milk must just be low fat. Do people not get how destructive these comments are?! My milk is perfect for my perfect babies. I don’t want to feel like I’m hanging on the edge of a cliff, with inadequate milk starving my babies. What a shameful feeling :(

    The thing is that even the “chart” is just an average. There will be people who fall above and below it. Just like a man could be 5ft tall or 6ft 7 and we don’t fall all over ourselves freaking out and telling them to change, people’s weights have natural places. And to me, this is the beauty of breastmilk. It’s the perfect food. Unlike cow’s milk or formula or food I don’t worry that it’s too much or too little. It’s breastmilk. If your child (and my children) are getting breastmilk you don’t have to worry about it. They’re getting what they need.

    And let’s pretend for a second that a breastfed baby COULD be overweight. OK then. I read once that the #1 predictor of future weight gain is whether a person is currently dieting. Having researched dieting I now understand how much it messes up your body. I would never, ever, ever restrict a child or tell them that they needed to lose weight. Ever. I would instead work to change our society’s f-ed up weight bias. Your daughter, like all of us, is beautiful and worthy of love no matter how she looks. To tell a CHILD that they aren’t perfect? How fucked up is that? Seriously.

    I really dislike how being a mother opens you up to this kind of criticism.

    Posted March 2, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  21. Lilia said . . .

    Hello lovely mama…I’ve been wondering when this was going to come up, and I’m so sorry that I was right to anticipate it. Claire is such a lovely, healthy little one, and it has been healing to my heart to see you accepting and celebrating her just as she is. Your response to the commenter was rockin’ awesome (as always), and I just wanted to tell you that the feeling you described was pretty much textbook shaming…I’m not sure if you’ve read Brene Brown’s work – she is an amazing lady who has some great things to say about how shaming is used on and by parents, and why that’s a really bad thing for everyone involved. Her website is http://www.ordinarycourage.com/ …my only quibble with her is that she doesn’t really get HAES (she uses language that situates obesity as a scourge alongside addiction and depression…but we’re working on her on that front ;-)…and when it comes to the mental games we play with one another, and the hope and healing that can come from authentic sharing and vulnerability (something you do in such a powerful way), well, she’s beyond awesome.

    Finally, I just wanted to say again how amazing I think you are, and how awesome it is that Claire has a mama who will stick up for her right to be exactly who she is. You rock.

    xoxo,
    Lilia

    Posted March 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  22. Lauren said . . .

    Wonderfully said. I agree with every single word you have said. Only mama bears know their baby bears.
    Whoever would be so nasty as to say or write such hurtful words… really they are probably just jealous. But so so low — and unclassy. I hate crap like that. But you and your daughter are beautiful just the way you are. Everyone is different and special in their own way. How boring the world would be if we were all the same. Thanks for being such an inspirational and encouraging mama bear! :)
    I need to visit your shop soon… I am breast-feeding our newborn and I am needing (wanting) some pretty mama art. :)

    Posted March 4, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
  23. Shana - mother of many said . . .

    I have a blended family of 6 amazing kids, all so very different it makes my head spin sometimes. I gather children to me like most women acquire shoes. I’d rather have the kids, I’m the “crazy, Mother Hubbard” of my family. And there is nothing I love more than a baby with meat. I just wanna tickle and munch on them! I know it’s crazy, but I do. I loved munching on my own and my family’s babies. I was sad when their baby fat “fell off after learning to walk.” That meant they were growing older, more independent and less inclined to snuggle. Enjoy the time you have now, because it goes so quickly.

    You are an amazing mother and it makes me laugh at how eloquently you answered her. Never rude.. just precisely what needed to be said and nothing more. Congrats on your healthy baby girl, continue what you’re doing. Blessed be!

    Posted March 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  24. Shana - mother of many said . . .

    I have a blended family of 6 amazing kids, all so very different it makes my head spin sometimes. I gather children to me like most women acquire shoes. I’d rather have the kids, I’m the “crazy, Mother Hubbard” of my family. And there is nothing I love more than a baby with meat. I just wanna tickle and munch on them! I know it’s crazy, but I do. I loved munching on my own and my family’s babies. I was sad when their baby fat “fell off after learning to walk.” That meant they were growing older, more independent and less inclined to snuggle. Enjoy the time you have now, because it goes so quickly. You are an amazing mother and it makes me laugh at how eloquently you answered her. Never rude.. just precisely what needed to be said and nothing more. Congrats on your healthy baby girl, continue what you’re doing. Blessed be!

    Posted March 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  25. Arianna VK said . . .

    Thank you for sharing this! I birthed two little babies (both in the 6 lb 6 oz area) but once they started nursing they both gained weight quickly, fitting into clothing at least one size up. My 2 month old is in 3-6 month size any my toddler was the same. Now my 2 year old is tall and thin, so she actually doesn’t really fit in any specific size. I heard it when they were born little, I heard it when they were chunky infants, and I hear it now with a thin toddler. Ha, I just have to laugh and keep those “ideals” away from my girls. Your daughter is lovely, and that is the first thing I thought.

    Posted March 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  26. Natalie Mitchell said . . .

    In the Bible, there’s a story of a woman who, long story short, decided to sacrifice her son to ministry once he weaned. According to the way they word it, he was like…6 years old. Also, translated in that time, baby teeth are, I kid you not, called “milk teeth.” My little girl just turned 6, and she has yet to lose a tooth. Just saying! By the way, I have ALWAYS thought Claire had the most amazing, incredible body and I just want to kiss her all over! And her HAIR and EYES!! Wee!

    Posted March 30, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  27. Michelle said . . .

    I just found your blog and before I read this post I was smiling at how much your daughter reminds me of my sister when she was a baby. She is sooo gorgeous and looks so healthy and loved. I look forward to reading more of your posts xo

    Posted April 1, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

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