The newest mommy war trend is being so over mommy wars. A group of moms in Connecticut even started a campaign to end judgment among moms, and a photo shoot of them holding up encouraging signs like, “The mom in me honors the mom in you” went viral. It’s a great ideal. It’s very PC, very puppies and rainbows. But is it realistic?
I try not to be judgmental of others’ parenting. It’s not my business, and I’m generally pretty good at keeping my mouth shut. No one wants unsolicited advice, and I respect that. But even if we don’t voice them, we all have our own opinions.
It’s kind of like politics. It’s difficult to talk about politics with people you’re close with but yet who have radically different views. Discussions like that often end with everyone taking it personally, because how could you not? It’s hard to separate your political opinions from your sense of self; they are part of who you are. So how can someone else who you in every other way respect and love have such fundamentally different values?
It’s easier just not to talk about it in the first place.
But if we don’t feel free to discuss our views and opinions, where does that leave us? I think in some form, discussions about parenting styles and what’s best for children are healthy. We could just leave it to the experts, but we are the moms on the front lines. If anyone should be an “expert” in the real-life practically and logistics of parenting, it’s us.
And even when the experts do weigh in, what then? Debates still rage over whether or not crib bumpers should be used, even though the experts have clearly said no to them. Does that mean those on the “no bumpers” side are “right”?
One night while nursing LM at 4 am I was watching reruns of the sitcom Yes, Dear on Nick at Nite. The main female characters are two sisters with very different parenting styles.
The laid-back mom says, “You always think your way is the best way.”
“Well, yes,” the uptight mom replies. “That’s why I chose it to be my way.”
And therein lies the crux of the mommy war problem: We try so hard to do what’s right for our kids that it bothers us when we see another mom doing it differently. It either means that A) Their kid is not reaping the benefits of the “best way” or that B) Our way might not actually be the “best way.”
If we were fully confident in our parenting choices, maybe it wouldn’t bother us to see another mom make different ones. I often wonder if I’m doing it right, if the choices I made, despite all my research, are the “best.”
On the other hand, I admit to giving the side-eye or secretly judging (even if I don’t say anything) choices other moms make, because some of my choices I do feel confident in. I’ve been guilty of thinking that other kids are not benefitting from the “best way.” I try to remember, though, that it’s not my kid, and therefore not my business.
But, I also want to be able to celebrate my victories. I overcame a lot of obstacles to breastfeeding. When I tell people about that, though, I worry it’s going to offend those who’ve encountered obstacles and instead chose to wean. Does my success imply their failure? I try not to make it sound that way, and instead stress that I understand how hard it is because I was this close to giving up. But does that just make them think, “What are you saying, that you’re better than us because you didn’t give up and we did?” So I find myself only talking about it with other like-minded breastfeeding moms.
The PC solution to the mommy wars is, “Everyone has to make the decision that’s right for their family.” I do practice this by trying hard not to say something that will offend others. I admit that’s harder since I’ve started a blog, a place where I want to share my opinions unfiltered. I don’t have the answers on how to truly end the mommy wars because I believe that in many ways, debate is just human nature.
What is your take on the mommy wars – are they played out or just a part of life as a mom?