Marla Sokoloff’s Blog: Why Make Parenting a Competition?
Since audiences first got to know her at age 12 as Gia on Full House, Sokoloff has had many memorable TV roles — Jody on Party of Five, Lucy on The Practice, Claire on Desperate Housewives — as well as turns on the big screen in Whatever It Takes, Dude, Where’s My Car? and Sugar & Spice.
Sokoloff, 31, also sings and plays guitar and released an album, Grateful, in 2005.
She wed her husband, music composer Alec Puro, in November 2009 and the couple — plus pup Coco Puro — make their home in Los Angeles.
|Caught at the perfect moment! – Cydney Puro|
Being a parent can be challenging. Many people have said that it’s one of the toughest jobs you will ever have. After a solid 16 weeks of being a mom (a mom who still fully admits to being mildly clueless), I can wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.
First you are blessed with the sleep deprivation, then it’s the temper tantrums, and before you know it, your kid is sneaking out in the middle of the night driving your car to Baja, Mexico. (Clearly I’m already dreading the teenage years!) Not only is it a full time job, but it also comes with an iron-clad lifetime membership to the worry club. It’s definitely challenging — but it’s the best job I’ve had to date.
One thing I’ve started to notice, as Elliotte gets older, is that there is an ever-present competition among parents out there. (I hesitate to say the word judgment because I truly feel that no parent should judge another parent’s way of raising his or her own child.)
|Sweet smiles – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff|
We all seem to have an opinion on everything baby these days. Bottle-feeding, pacifying, breastfeeding, vaccinating, co-sleeping, swaddling, sleep training, solid starting … the list is endless.
Every day I find myself asking the question — how did parents get by before all of these parenting rules existed? How did babies sleep without the 5 S’s? How did parents self-diagnose their children’s ailments without the fear-inducing Internet? How did parents know that if you don’t feed your kids only organic foods and milk they won’t ever get married and have children of their own?
Okay … maybe not that last one.
When I spoke out about my breastfeeding struggles, I felt an incredible sense of relief from the guilt that I had been plagued with for weeks. It made me so happy to hear from those of you who related to my struggle. Your stories inspired me and reminded me that we are all just doing the best we can and that our little ones love us no matter what.
|Bathtime for Elliotte! – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff|
Yet a few weeks after writing that blog, I was at a BBQ with Elliotte and my husband when one of his friends asked me point-blank if I was breastfeeding. (Side note: When did it become okay to ask a new mom if she’s breastfeeding at a social gathering? Whatever happened to “Is she sleeping through the night?” or “What kind of diaper rash cream do you use?”)
The question made me break out into a cold sweat and I instantly started giving a ridiculous explanation, as if I needed to spell out my every move to him. Maybe it’s because my postpartum hormones made me feel extra insecure that day or that I feel pressure from my own self because my brother and I were breastfed for 24 and 9 months respectively, but it made me wildly uncomfortable.
My confident mom attitude was being pushed away by the self-conscious mom that still longs to be the most popular parent in school. I walked away wondering what had gotten into me. Where did the empowered and confident mom go? Why on earth did I cower at the very question that I chose to publicly out myself on?
|Cuddling with my girl – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff|
Recently breastfeeding has been in the media more than ever before — celebrity and non-celebrity moms are coming out and supporting long-term breastfeeding (which I think is amazing and exciting, by the way!) and one magazine even asked the question, “Are You Mom Enough?”
When I saw that cover, I was shocked by its provocative nature. It made me uncomfortable. Not because of the image of a mom breastfeeding her child, but because it poses a question that I find to be incredibly offensive. Aren’t we all “mom enough?” Isn’t being a good parent “enough?” Isn’t this job hard as it is — do we really need to abide by a checklist of “rules” that make us enough?
Would love to hear from you all on this subject — send me a Tweet @marlasok or leave a comment below.
Until next time … xox
— Marla Sokoloff