You Don’t Have to do That

I really hated breastfeeding. This isn’t news or revelatory – lots of people also hate breastfeeding. It isn’t a secret; I’m pretty open about it. It just wasn’t for me. The problem is that I did it for a time despite the fact that I hated it.

I did it because I felt pressure. From myself, from others, from society, I felt like a disappointment constantly. When my second baby would cry, I would become irrationally angry. I would think, “I don’t want to do this. Please don’t make me hold him and do this.” But I would do it anyway because I was supposed to. This is what was expected of me. I had a home water birth with my first child and a drug and intervention free hospital birth with my second; no one even asked if I wanted to breastfeed. It was expected. And so I did it.

I hated it for many reasons – which I won’t totally go into here – but with each feeding, I fell deeper into depression. Until one day, my husband gave me the permission that I didn’t realize I needed.

“Just stop. If you hate it this much, you don’t have to do it. He’ll be fine.”

Immediately, I felt relief. I don’t need to do this. I can stop! Someone said it’s okay. So it’s okay. Even though I knew deep down that it was fine, I somehow needed an external force to relieve me of the invisible pressure. This is giving my husband a lot of power – and that is not my intention. It’s inconsequential that it was him giving the permission – it could have been anyone. Even a total stranger. But I got that relief regardless (and my son is completely fine – better, even.)

So, here’s a list of things you don’t have to do anymore or things that are ok to keep doing – in case you need someone, even a total stranger, to give you permission:

  • You don’t have to defend giving your child Lunchables.
  • You don’t need to breastfeed if you don’t like it. 
  • You don’t need to have a drug/intervention free birth if you don’t want to. 
  • You are allowed to be sad or mourn if you didn’t have the birth you planned on. 
  • It’s ok to be sad if you are having a girl but wanted a boy, and vice versa. 
  • No one needs to like the names of your children except you and your partner. 
  • It’s ok to send your child to daycare and still take the day off work.
  • You don’t need to sacrifice your feelings for your kids or partner.
  • You don’t have to give your child well balanced meals each and every day.
  • You don’t need to throw elaborate, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties.
  • You don’t even need to throw them a party when they are tiny babies and won’t remember.
  • You don’t need to buy the crazy expensive, matching outfits.
  • You also CAN buy them if you want – you can have permission for that too.
  • You can send your kids to school in a stained shirt – they’ll live.
  • If your son is only eating chicken nuggets for dinner and fights you tooth and nail on it – it’s fine to give him the chicken nuggets.
  • It’s ok to have frozen pizza at least one night per week (or more, if you want).
  • You can shove your laundry mountain into your closet or a room you can close a door on so you don’t have to see it.
  • You can go that extra day with dry shampoo.
  • You don’t need to make sure your child is entertained at every second on the weekend.
  • You can lay on the couch and binge Netflix while your partner covers bed and bathtime. You don’t need to use that time to be useful and clean or cook or pack lunches.
  • You can hide those cookies from your kids so you don’t have to share.
  • You do not need to do elaborate Elf on the Shelf antics.
  • You do not need to participate in every school event or party.
  • You do not need to go crazy finding the perfect green shirt for random green shirt day at school.

But what you DO need to do?

You need to love yourself and love your kids. The rest is just noise.

Laurel Hess
Laurel Hess is a mother to 2 young boys, a rescue pup, an off-balance cat and likely a few foster pups. She spends her days as President of a local marketing agency, helping craft integrated digital strategies and leading a team of creative collaborators. Once at home, however, Laurel is just trying to find peace with being the World's Okayest Mom. A Dallas transplant in a Louisiana world, Laurel graduated from Loyola University New Orleans in Broadcast Production. She met her husband while she was evacuated in Lafayette during Hurricane Katrina. They lived 5 wild, kid-free years in New Orleans while Laurel served as the Sales and Marketing Manager for the Superdome, Arena and Champions Square, before finally returning to Lafayette and into the wildest phase of life yet ... Parenthood.


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