Do you ever think about all the labels we wear; as women, as mothers - some of them self-declarations, some of them imposed upon us by others. All a result of decisions we have made. I remember back when I was pregnant and frequented Babycentre and other parenting forums, people would list their decisions in their signature 'co-sleeping, cloth bumming, baby wearing, anti-cio, blw-ing, attached parent to 6mo little angel' and similar. I think the biggest ones were always to do with how you chose or had to feed your baby (bottle, breast, express, combination etc) and whether or not you were willing to let your little one 'cry it out' or Gina Ford-it.
Now our kids are older, our decisions are probably less cut, maybe they have less significance now. There are still big labels, stereotypes and identities we face - working mother/ stay at home mom being the biggest two that spring to mind. For me I face another label, I have talked before about my new role as a Single Mother.
And in my attempts to make this situation feel 'ok' and not just ok, but something I truly accept and embrace I think back to all those labels I have worn so far in my parenting 'career'. Those are all decisions I made at the time, decisions I am proud of and that I mostly stuck to and still believe in. They are things that have caused massive debates in the media - the case for and the argument against extended breastfeeding or breastfeeding in public for example, the decision to co-sleep, the choice not to return to work after maternity leave. Those were my choices and those are my labels. I was proud to breastfeed my son, not because I felt superior to anyone who chose not to, or couldn't breastfeed, but because that was right for my family. I am proud that through my decisions to co-sleep and babywear and not to let my son cry, Vinnie and I have a great attachment - I'm not proud because I think my way was the 'right' way, but it was the right thing for my family. I am proud every day of my son, and as much as society loves modesty and humbleness, I am proud of myself, for making informed decisions, fighting for what I believe in, doing the right thing by my son and my family - for having done an ok job so far.
I didn't exactly make the decision to become a Single Mom, it was a situation brought upon me, and one I was not prepared for. But now I face a decision, I can be confined by my labels, I can live up to stereotypes or I can live in my new role. I define myself, here in this space, as a Single Mom, and while I am not limited to that label, it is one of the biggest challenges, roles, plates to step up to, in my life right now. I can make it something I am proud of.