Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Mommy Wars

So, I've been thinking about this a lot for the past few months...
I've debated whether or not to post about it, but it has been weighing on my heart so much lately.
It's a topic that NO mother can avoid these days.

The {dreaded} Mommy Wars.

I define this phenomenon simply as, "The judgement and condemnation of parenting styles or techniques because you do not personally agree with them."

I have to say that I was probably just as guilty as the next person when it came to "mommy hating" before Brynn turned one. And when I talk about "Mommy Hating," I'm talking about the comments you make, like, "I don't know why she wants to raise her child in that ridiculous way..." and "I can't believe she's still nursing her 2 year-old...", and the "Why does she have her child up so late/out in a crowd at such a young age/{insert controversial parenting topic here}..."

I'm talking about what this has brought to the surface...
well, more liked slammed onto the surface!

Thank you, Time Magazine.
I mean, I'm actually GLAD to see this come out.
Not because I parent my child in this way, and want to jump to its defense.
But because it has shown us exactly what motherhood/parenthood is turning into...
A glorified competition.
The "I'm SUCH a better mom than you..." mentality that many of us seem to have.
Fueled by the baby books preaching psychological detriment to your children if you don't parent them a particular way. Fueled by our own drive to be better for our children.

I know that I've judged, I've mumbled a few nasty comments, and I've felt inadequate at times...
{I mean, I worked in a busy PICU for four years... It kinda comes with the territory. My apologies.}

Then I joined the blogging world... Which vastly expanded the level of known parenting styles that I could have ever imagined. And as I followed along with all of these mommy blogs, I realized that a lot of these moms have completely different styles of parenting... And their children are growing up to live seemingly happy, healthy, and adjusted lives... And that's AWESOME!
A lot of these parenting styles I did not fully understand to begin with... I will be honest and share with you all that I didn't read a single baby book, aside from Jenny McCarthy's Belly Laughs, during my pregnancy or after B was born... It was so overwhelming, and I am not one to jump on a "bandwagon" and commit to something unless I fully understand what I'm getting myself into... Especially something as important as parenting. I did read a few summaries of parenting books, but nothing that ever really struck me as,  
"That is IT. That is exactly how I want to raise my child..."

When it came to my "parenting style," my role model was my mother. I enjoyed my childhood. I appreciate how I was raised. And I also observed and asked questions to other mothers who I admired to see how they managed things... Then I remember thinking, "why can't I just create my own parenting style from all of the things that I see and like from other styles, and blend them together?"

It was a no-brainer to me. Why can't I do just that? I don't really need to know all of the psychological effects of every single thing that I do to my child-- from the length of time that I breastfeed or co-sleep, to making the decision to let them watch TV, to choosing not to discipline by "spanking" them... Seriously, I'm not ignorant enough to think that I can keep them in a little bubble and protect them from ever being psychologically scarred by something or someone in their lives... Especially ME. I'm not the perfect person, nor the perfect mother. I know this... Logically speaking, there is a very high probability that no matter what style of parenting I choose, I am still going to eventually do something that's "not correct" according to the books.

And that's okay with me.
And if that's not okay with other mothers... That's okay with me too.

What my mommy-logic tells me about my style of parenting is that it will help my children learn to ADAPT to situations and people they encounter in their lives... And I've seen this with B already.
Now, I'm NOT an expert, and I'm definitely not insinuating that my child is more "adaptable" than yours, or any other child... I'm just saying that I can live with my parenting decisions thus far because I've seen the benefits. I don't feel like I owe anyone an explanation of what those are. 
They work for ME. That's what matters.

As for how other mothers choose to parent their children... 
I honestly don't feel like that's ANY of my business.

You don't want to breastfeed? Great! That's what works for you. I'm happy for you.

You want to use cloth diapers? Awesome! 
You don't agree with "spanking" your children? Fabulous!
 You don't want your kids to watch TV? Terrific!
You want to breastfeed until your child is 3 years-old, and pose on the cover of a magazine? Fantastic!
You think it's okay to let your child "cry it out"? Spectacular!
You want to go by the book? Incredible!

Some of these things I may or may not agree with when it comes to my own parenting choices... But you don't have to worry about me judging you, because I won't... I support your decisions to be the parent that YOU want to be. They are YOUR children, and I respect that.

I have enough of an open mind to know that I can never understand why you chose a certain parenting technique, simply because I have not walked in your shoes.

Each time I am in a situation where a mother is being judged, I can't help but think,
"Why can't we all just get along?"

We all have a common goal here-- raising happy and healthy children, who we love with all of our hearts!
Does it really matter that someone accomplishes that goal a little differently than you?

Let's just talk about this scenario...
When your child grows up and chooses to marry someone special... A nice person, who treats them with respect, and is an all-around great individual.
Are you going to ask their mother, "Now, did you breastfeed? Because my child can't marry someone who wasn't breastfed... I believe that children who were not breastfed are ignorant, and can never become well-rounded people because they don't know how to form a significant bond."
Chances are, probably not.

{Now, I'm not picking on breastfeeding moms here... It's just such a hot topic in these Mommy Wars, I can't help but use it as an example. And FYI, I breastfed my daughter for six months, which was my personal goal. I'll definitely breastfeed our next child, perhaps for longer than 6 months! We will cross that bridge when we get there...}

Obviously, this sort of thing isn't life or death, which is how we are treating it these days...
Cut yourself some slack.
And after that, cut off some more slack for the other mommies in your life.

 Be proud to be the mother that you ARE... 
And let's put an end to these Mommy Wars!


Amanda @ Life, Experience Needed said...

Great post!

Katie said...

Well said my friend! :)

Tiffany said...

I completely agree with putting an end to it all. I think if we could all be more open to listening to each other and not feeling that every different method was a condemnation of us, then we could actually learn.

You really hit on something about looking around you and taking ideas from other moms you see around you and following your own intuition. If we are spending so much time being judgmental and defensive, we are unable to process new methods and possibly incorporate a great new idea into our parenting.

Eschelle said...

well said, I hate it when this kind of thing happens. Moms are so judgmental, even I am. If only all of us could stop judging and start smiling. Everyone does things differently and that is okay.

Amanda said...

you said it best when you said the words: be proud to be the mother that you ARE. love that. this whole judging thing NEEDS to end. we are all doing the best we can and that's what should be taken into account. wonderful post, mama!

xo, amanda

Emily said...

this was a great post. so glad i found you through the wiegands blog!!

Kate said...

very well said, Emily.

Natalie said...

Totally agree with this girl! I hate that moms are always judging each other...let's just raise great children!

Meagan said...

Excellent post! There really is no need for the judgement - I love your thought about the future husband - it really makes sense. We're parenting for the long haul. I think so many moms get caught up in the details when our kids are little and we forget the big picture. Thanks for sharing this!

eleni said...

Thank you, Emily!