Dear Atticus, on choosing differently

Atticus in May 2011

Dear Atticus,

I said the other day that I have closely guarded your bedtime since you were about 6 weeks old. In the spring and early summer, this meant that we did not do much of anything at all in the evenings. This was okay with me because it was my choice.

I went back to work when you were 10 weeks old, and at that point, I was very protective of our weekends as well. Each morning during the week, we were all up and out of the house by 7:15. I personally did not want to do that (or much of anything) on the weekends, and so we spent a lot of time at home. I didn’t want you to have to sleep in your car seat a whole lot, so we tried to be home for naps. This was also okay with me because I was doing what I thought was best for you.

A lot of people have disagreed with my choices. They think that I was staying at home too much. That I was being anti-social. That I should have taken you everywhere so you would learn how to adjust. I heard about some of the things that were said, saw the looks on some faces as we turned things down in order to stay at home. I am a first-time mom, so I will admit that I could have been doing things wrong, even with the best of intentions, but the people who were critical didn’t ask me why I was doing those things.

I stayed at home because, when I was working, I was pumping five times a day and nursing you five additional times. I stayed at home because I was exhausted, because I had no energy for reading, let alone getting out of the house. I stayed at home because I am an introvert, and because navigating social dynamics seemed overwhelmingly difficult. I stayed at home because I wanted to be at home, and because I wanted you to be at home. You were learning enough about adjusting during the week.

I also stayed at home because I knew it was not forever. Because you are not going to be a baby for that long, and it was important for me to do what I felt was right for you at the time, even if it meant being a little bit lonely and a whole lot left out. Other people have the ability to make different choices. Perhaps they are extroverts or stay-at-home moms or aren’t breastfeeding. Any combination of those things might have given them more energy than I had back in the spring.

All of your life, you will make choices that feel right to you that people will disagree with. You will probably not be given an opportunity to defend yourself. If you are anything like me, you will desperately want to defend yourself, to make your side of the story known. That is why it is so important to be comfortable and secure in your own decisions. I want to teach you to do what is right, even if other people disagree. To know and listen to yourself. And to be compassionate when other people choose differently because they are doing what they are able to do.

Now that you are bigger, we are able to get out and do more, and we are all happier for it. Still, I do not regret having been a homebody in the spring. I did what I had to do to make it. I am thankful now that our Saturdays are full of fun and errands, and I am thankful for those rainy Sundays back in the spring when we stayed in our pajamas. As far as I am concerned, life needs both of those things.

Love,
Mama

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