The rule of absolutes: Nothing is absolute, not even this statement.

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retrochick.JPGIvy says:

I’ve been thinking lately about how I hear a whole lot of stuff presented as absolute fact, when the truth is that nothing is ever absolute. Except maybe the statement “Don’t eat yellow snow.” I don’t care if you colored it with Country Time Lemonade yourself. Don’t eat it. You’ll regret it.

Seriously, though, what works for my family may not work for your family. I’ll give you an example from my own life. I used to be one of those holier-than-thou ultra-militant breastfeeders. I went around making statements like “Formula should be prescription only” and “Why would you make an inferior choice like formula feeding for your precious baby?” I would fight the formula feeding mommies left and right on the mommy forums.

Then I met a chick named Kate. Kate was one of those mommies I totally idealized, she never fed her kids anything but the best, made from scratch, organic meals, and she was always doing fun, educational stuff with her kids, who were all on a first name basis with museum and library staff across the state. She managed to live a totally green lifestyle, the likes of which I will never achieve.

So, one day we were talking and I was going off on “those stupid formula feeders” and she said something like, “You know, Ivy, I had to feed my kids formula…I just didn’t have enough breast tissue to do so.” She told me about how she tried literally everything she could think of to get breastfeeding to work out, while her baby got thinner and hungrier. Finally, she fed the baby formula (knowing Kate, it was probably some fabulous organic brand) and her baby thrived.

I thought back to all the times I had been snotty to people who had said they tried to breastfeed and it didn’t work out. I thought about how I had told them to try harder, and how I had made catty remarks about how “only 2 percent of women can physically not breastfeed and miraculously, they all post on this forum”.

Yes, y’all, I was THAT person on the forums. I’m not proud of it.

The reason I’m posting this is because that was my moment I realized that nothing was absolute. Sure, you can throw around “2% of all blah blah blah” statistics all you want, but the truth is, nobody knows what will work best for you and your family, but YOU, and YOUR FAMILY.

This was inspired by first, this post on Frugal Hacks. Some of us might want to be so frugal you’re making your own board games from cardboard and rusty paperclips you find by the side of the road, and that might not work for others of us.

The other thing that made me think of this was this comment from Scrappy Quilter* on Heather’s potatoes post. For her family, buying potatoes in 50 pound increments works. For my family, we’d never get through that many potatoes before they spoiled.

And one more thing that made me think of it was a frank discussion I was reading (somewhere on Livejournal and now I can’t find it to link to it, grr) about using a Diva Cup vs. tampons vs. make-it-yourself pads. We are all so different. And when something works for us, we become evangelists about it. Sometimes, it ends up in arguments.

If we all just keep in mind that all of us are not the same, I think we could all get to feeling great about who we each individually are. And there’s your Friday Sermon from your pal Ivy.

Think about it. But don’t ever eat yellow snow. Seriously. Don’t.

*My apologies to Scrappy Quilter, who is a good example of something that works for her family, that didn’t work for other families. This post may be unclear as to that. She’s a good example, not the horrible warning. I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer.

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20 thoughts on “The rule of absolutes: Nothing is absolute, not even this statement.”

  1. What a great post, Ivy! I love this and I thank you for sharing the Frugal Hacks post. It came from an honest place and I know I have thrown around my holier than though attitude myself about things. I have also gotten knocked off of my own self-proclaimed pedestal a time or two.

    Excellent post!

  2. I’m a passionate mommy-poster, too. Pro-bf’ing my favorite statistic is the 99% of Norwegian Mommies bf for at least the first 6 mo. “Well, if they can, why can’t you?” is always my argument. But I never really thought about what it might be like being that 1-2% that can’t. If it’s a choice that’s one thing, but I guess I’ve been insensitive to mommies that aren’t lucky enough for the option.

    Good post.

  3. The ability to admit you’re wrong is rare and admirable. Good for you.

    It’s a fine line between being concerned and being judgmental. I know a woman who CHOSE not to breastfeed her newborn because she didn’t want the hassle while she was working. That made me insane (although I did keep my mouth shut). But women who _can’t_ shouldn’t be criticized.

  4. Great post!

    I personally have to make an interesting note here though. I was perfectly able to breast feed, but was not able to with my first child because he refused. Seriously — it was horrible. We even had a lactation nurse, etc. We finally gave up and went with formula, and he thrived.

    Well…the reason I share this story is because years later at an Autism support group meeting, a bunch of us with kids who have Autism found that those kids wouldn’t breastfeed. I don’t really know if there is a correlation, but it seemed like quite a coincidence.

    Trust me — I felt like a failure to not breastfeed. 🙁 And, times when people made me feel bad about it were just beyond horrible.

  5. So you kind of have me interested in the whole country time lemonade and snow thing…we just got a fresh two inches…it would be kind of funny:)

  6. What a great and timely post!

    I just posted on my blog last night about expecting #3 and that I will not be nursing this time. This after nursing #1 and #2 3.5 years and 2.5 years, respectively.

    I was also a militant bf-er for a time, and my “AP” approach to everything was of course the end all be all of the BEST parenting decisions one could make.

    It’s funny how 8+ years of real live parenting can shift ideas about a wide variety of things.

    A great example to use to illustrate your point about absolutes, and one that really struck home for me.

    Thank you!

  7. Um…”bout the Potato comment I left–I truly hope that wasn’t read as me being “Holier-than-Thou”. I guess I was trying to illustrate exactly what Ivy said in this post; that something which didn’t work for the Home Ec 101 gals had worked wonderfully for my family and I wanted to let others know so they wouldn’t dismiss a potential bargain without taking a moment to consider whether it would work for them.

    So, apologies to anyone who read my comment as a superior-attitude-snit-type-thing–and I’ll try to “hear” the tone of my comments before I click Submit from now on.

  8. Thank you for saying what all of us are thinking. Blogging is for sharing ideas, thoughts, and being inspired by other people. Blogging does not mean you have to be exactly like me or like someone else. We are all unique and perfectly made by our Heavenly Father. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I must do what’s works right for me and my family and not feel bad if I don’t follow the “rules” on someone elses blog. Well said!!! 🙂

  9. Scrappy, I am so sorry for being less than clear in my post: you were meant to be one of the good examples of something that doesn’t work for us, works for you! I’ve edited the post so hopefully now it’s clearer!

  10. Excellent post and point. My first comment here. My daughter had a bad latch and badly damaged my breasts. I pumped breast milk for nearly 9 months. My own decision, my own reasons. I felt guilty for feeding her from a bottle. How ridiculous is that? I have a thriving and happy child, but I missed out on sweet newborn times while hooked up to a machine. I tell women who are struggling to consider letting it go and get a can of formula, but to follow their own heart and meet their own family needs. Baby needs a happy and present mother…

    Bottom line is this: The longer I am a mother the less I know what is good for other people.

  11. Great post Ivy – well balanced and well written.

    By the way, I have a friend who once said, “Well, I tried nursing my baby, but it just wasn’t for me.” What?! I won’t say anything else. 😉

  12. Well said. I’m a member of that 1-2% who weren’t able to b’feed. I can’t tell you how many times b’feeding mamas made me feel inadequate. Now that my babies are teens & tweens, I’ve finally accepted what worked for our family. They’re thriving and happy AND their daddy was able to have bonding moments with them at feeding time.

  13. I shared your post with a few people over the last few days because new moms especially are hard on themselves and apt to be harder line on things. I know the post wasn’t strictly about BFing, but I think it was really helpful to a mom of twins I know who is really having a hard time exclusively BFing and feeling like a failure when she has to supplement with formula. Many people may feel more lenient toward her because she is a mommy of twins, but it didn’t make her any easier on herself.

  14. Thanks, Ivy!

    Fawn, I breastfed my twins for a few weeks, but one left me bleeding and the other didn’t thrive. I started using formula for every other feeding and swapped babies each feeding, so they were essentially getting half breast milk and half formula. I had success with exclusively breastfeeding my other two.

    Those twins are 15 now and my other two are 13 and 19. I don’t notice any difference in either their physical health or my relationship with them. In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with bottle feeding sometimes, the main thing is the bonding time (twins or single babies)….with twins there’s a temptation to prop the bottle feeder up with a pillow when they both want to eat at the same time, but it is possible to feed one on the breast, one on the bottle, both in your lap at once. It just takes some experimentation to find a position that keeps your arms from falling asleep.

    Hope this helps your friend!

  15. Ivy,

    I’m soo glad you aren’t “that person” any more.

    One of the things I love best about this site is the fact that neither you nor Heather preach or scold, You just share and teach things that work for you.

    We all live different lives, with different families in different parts of the country – it’s great to be able to share and learn about things that work for us.

    Thanks for all of your work here – it’s appreciated.


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