"Nobody was more shocked then I was to learn at 43 I was pregnant."
The best way to respond to your mother is directly and upfront. I don’t know a single mother who has made such a major decision lightly. I know you respect and value your mom’s opinion and recognize it’s coming from a place of maternal experience, but at the same time you deserve to be respected as a grown woman, a wife, and now a mother. Your mother must appreciate and recognize your decision is based on what you feel is beneficial to your family. The decision to return to work after the birth of your son was not flippantly made on the fly, I am sure. Express to her all the effort and planning that went into your decision. Let her know how much thought and prayer went into this decision and ask her to respect that.
Tell her plainly how toxic her comments are and that they are affecting your health. Perhaps she is unaware of how deeply and adversely she is hurting you.
Lastly, earnestly ask her why she feels the way she does. Often times people lash out when they feel slighted or threatened and end up projecting those feelings negatively on others. You can assure her that you value her thoughts and think she was a wonderful mother but that you’ve just decided to do things differently and that decision is not a reflection on how she parented you.
You must stress that the negative comments have to stop immediately because you need her encouragement and positive guidance to navigate this new chapter in your life. Tell her how much you need that guidance on the other things that will come up, despite you two not agreeing on this one thing right now.
My last bit of advice is to you directly, be open to the idea that there may come a time when you decide to change your mind. Don’t stubbornly cling to your decision because you feel like you have something to prove to your mom. Continue to do what is best for your family and if you have any doubts about your decision discuss them with your husband, not your mother. He is your partner in this.
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