For longtime period follower Laura Rafferty, becoming a mom brought out her rebellious side.
The Ballston Lake resident has published a book about how she became a ‘rebellious mom’, eschewing some of the common child-rearing methods in favor of following her instincts. The book mixes memoir and non-fiction, covering topics such as co-sleeping, circumcision, separation anxiety, mother guilt and more.
“It’s not meant to be a how-to guide for parents. It’s just me helping you understand that it’s okay to feel different,” Rafferty said.
Growing up, as the North Troy native writes, she was adept at doing everything right.
“I was raised Roman Catholic and my 8 year old self was grateful to Moses for putting stone to the table, giving us direction for life.”
She dreamed of becoming a writer, although she delayed her dream in favor of studying business at SUNY Albany and getting a job at General Electric, where she has worked in the human resources technology department for 15 years.
“If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be a writer,” Rafferty said. “I always had that in mind, a goal . . . to write a book.”
The inspiration for the subject of the book came when she and her husband Justin welcomed their son Jack into the world in 2019. While Rafferty entered motherhood with the intention of following all of the many established parenting guidelines, she quickly discovered that some just didn’t work. for his son.
“He was just a really tough baby,” Rafferty said.
In 2020, she decided to “write about all the challenges I encountered throughout this process and [about how] which people [told me] do was the opposite of . . . what I felt I had to do,” Rafferty said.
She wrote whenever she found bits of time between work and Jack’s education.
“I wrote a lot when the baby was napping on me [or] at night in bed. A lot of it was written on my phone and in the notes section of my phone,” Rafferty said.
It’s written in a conversational tone and gets personal as she discusses everything from conception to breastfeeding.
“I wrote it like I was talking to a good girlfriend. If it was something I would share with a good girlfriend, it caught on there,” Rafferty said.
Beyond the personal anecdotes, Rafferty provides data she has found helpful in her parenting research.
“Each chapter is a topic that I thought I really had, like the outline of . . . And then once I did that, I was like, ‘This is so against my heart,'” Rafferty said.
Co-sleep was one such area.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents sleep separately from their babies for safety reasons. Prior to Jack’s birth, Rafferty planned to respect this and have him sleep in a crib at first, then move him to her bedroom at the end of her maternity leave so she could get a good night’s sleep. .
“So naive,” Rafferty said, looking back. “[When] the baby has come. . . all of a sudden, it didn’t make sense to me anymore.
She also diverged from her original nursing plan.
“The book [covers] until he was about 18 months old, but I nursed him until he was about 2 years old and that was something I had no intention of doing,” said Rafferty. She was going to follow the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and wean him at around 1 year old, but after struggling to switch him to solid foods, she extended that.
Since releasing the book in September, she said readers have contacted her to thank her.
“A . . . reached out to me and said, ‘Your book has literally given me a sigh of relief and I now keep my son in my bed with me without feeling guilty.’ And I was like ‘My day is done; my job is done,’ Rafferty said.
The reformed follower welcomed her second child, Benjamin, earlier this year and already feels like she has enough material to write another book (or two).
“I had a hard time adjusting to this little toddler who needs me but [also] this helpless baby who literally needs me in the truest sense of need; balancing that emotionally was really a challenge.
This led to a bit of maternal guilt, a topic Rafferty addresses in “Rebel Mama.” She achieves this by trying to give herself some grace.
“One bad day or one bad patch doesn’t ruin all the good you’ve already done with your child,” Rafferty said.
She also noted that taking care of herself helps her take better care of her children.
“I don’t have to feel bad because I’m taking a nap or taking a shower or anything, those are actually just essential parts of being human,” Rafferty said.
“There has to be some kind of balance where you prioritize yourself. Every day is not an option; the glory days of personal care and massage [are gone] so you have to be realistic with that. But if you need a night out with your girlfriends, or just need to catch something on Netflix, you don’t have to blame yourself.
Being a mother comes with a long list of challenges.
“No matter where someone is on their motherhood journey, whether they are pregnant, trying to conceive, having a newborn, whether their children are teenagers, whether their children are married, the work of . . . a mother is like an unsung hero,” Rafferty said.
“Tell all the moms they’re doing a great job because no matter how confident they are in their decisions, no matter how good they feel, I think every mom is always [wondering] ‘Am I doing the right thing? Can I do more?’ ”
“Rebel Mama: Breaking Free From Motherhood Norms and Parenting From Within,” is available on Amazon and at the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady.
The best advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t let anyone get to you. It’s advice Rafferty credits Pinky McKay, author, breastfeeding expert, and TEDx speaker, who wrote the foreword to “Rebel Mama.”
“If someone tells you. . . ‘You shouldn’t do this, you should do this,’ if that’s not how you feel, then let it go,” Rafferty said.
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