09/26/2014 05:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What 'I Support You' Really Means

Juanmonino via Getty Images

Want to know a secret? Shhh. Come close.

We don't care how you feed your baby.

We don't care. We don't care because there are women taking their babies for chemotherapy and women struggling to scrape up enough cash to buy dinner and women who feel so sh*tty about themselves that they think it would be better for their children if they just disappeared. Mothers are falling so deep down the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety, because they are sure that they are failing. Because that's what it seems like they're hearing.

When we started the I Support You project last year, we heard from hundreds of women who finally felt seen, heard, and understood. They saw their stories reflected in our mission. Breastfeeding moms and formula-feeding moms reached out to each other in kindness and friendship. But there were whispers of discontent. Over the last year, the whispers have grown louder. This is my party! I'm the birthday girl! Some of you want to make sure that everyone knows that support is only relevant if you're supporting what you personally feel is right and true. Look at me! Look at me, Mom!! No, no... look over heeeeere! Some have complained that I Support You lets everyone join their exclusive club, even the mothers who haven't earned it. These are my toys. All of them. I'm not going to share.


We will say it again: this mindset is hurting people. I Support You isn't just about discussing how we feed. It is us, pleading with you, to take care of each other. We are begging you to step outside of your own experiences, and be kind to each other. Stop talking about yourself. Stop preaching. Stop telling other women what to do with their bodies. You know what's anti-feminist? Shaming other women for not using their breasts the way that you do. Telling other moms how to care for their babies, because that's what has worked in your family. If you believe that you are in charge of your own body, then please don't tell other women what to do with theirs. If you believe that you know what is best for your family, then don't assume that you know what is best for ours. This is the principle we've been promoting from the beginning.

Support isn't about celebrating one way of parenting while stomping on another in your combat boots. We're on a hamster wheel -- spinning around and around, the same scenery whirling past our eyes, going nowhere. One step forward, 20 steps back.

But we know you're out there, too. The ones who want to see real change. The ones who are as fed up, bored, exhausted, and angry as we are. And we hear your whispers, too:

I am a breastfeeder, and I care about your feelings.

I am a formula feeder, and I don't give a flying you-know-what how you feed your baby, because I trust that you love him and are doing what you know is best for your family.

I am a breastfeeder, and I don't care how you feed your baby or what you feed your baby. I will mind my own business, because your personal choices are not mine to know.

I am a formula feeder, and I would never presume to know your experience, or judge your parenting philosophy, because what the heck is a parenting philosophy, anyway? Who has time to think about this sh*t?

I am a breastfeeder who has supported moms while they leave their abusive partners, while they struggle to learn a new language in a new country, while they cry on the floor at Mommy Group because they feel so alone. I do not care what they are feeding their baby, as long as they are not drowning in the deep end of depression.

I am a formula feeder, and I want my choice to be seen as normal and acceptable, instead of something for which I am supposed to feel defensive and ashamed.

I am a breastfeeder, and I have more important things to do than tell you how to take care of your kids. Like sleep. And eat something that is not the crust of what my kids just threw on the floor.

I am a formula feeder, and I will support breastfeeding women because they also should be made to feel like their choice is normal and acceptable, because (duh) it is.

I am a breastfeeder, and I am ashamed that some of my breastfeeding sisters make you feel bad.

I am a formula feeder, and I believe we ALL deserve support, regardless of which way the public opinion/scientific consensus pendulum sways, because how we use our female bodies should not be up for public discussion, full stop.

I am a breastfeeder, and my kids will grow up knowing how fiercely I love them, and how fiercely I fought to feed them. Both of them. The formula one and the breast milk one.

I am a formula feeder, and I don't champion a way of feeding, or the biological norm, or a highly marketed, commodified product, but I will champion your right to parent with love and autonomy, because my support is not conditional.

I am a breastfeeder, and I will not use that privilege to shame, isolate, or judge you.

I am a formula feeder, and I will not use that privilege to shame, isolate or judge you.

I am a formula feeder, and I Support YOU.

I am a breastfeeder, and I Support YOU.

If you are interested in learning more about normalizing kindness, and how we can lift each other up on this journey of motherhood, then please visit I Support You. We hear you. It's OK to raise your voice. Maybe it's time we did, too.

This post was co-written by Suzanne Barston, Fearless Formula Feeder and Kim Simon, Mama By The Bay, on behalf of I Support You.

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