“Mommy Wars… what?”
That was my reaction a few months ago after a blog post (from scarymommy) that I read that had several negative comments attacking another mom for a parenting decision she made. Others responded by pointing out that Mommy Wars is still rampant. Until this time this term was unknown to me. And I thought it was silly… then when I read up on it I realized that is really does exist.
I’m left wondering, why?
Why is it that when we have so many other things to worry about in life, our children, marriages, finances, home, work, health etc that we have time to exert effort to not only care about but to cut each other down about each other’s decisions? My daughter and I are out in the community all of the time and I am happy to say I have never experienced this in person. However, it seems that online, when we are only looking at a computer screen mean things easily flow from our finger tips.
This has really been weighing on my mind.
As an example, I don’t understand why someone deciding to bottle feed their child with formula deserves criticism from others. I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they don’t intend to be critical (in some instances cruel) and are just typing their initial reaction or the first things that comes to their mind. But then I go back to one of the first lessons my mom taught me, “think before you speak,” and “treat others as you wish to be treated.” People who share things about themselves online are real people, with real feelings and deserve respect and understanding.
So I have decided to make myself vulnerable (pretty scary!). As a regular contributor for BVTMB I want to demonstrate that I am a real person with thoughts and feelings.
This is me. I am 29 years old.
I’m a mother to my 13 month old daughter Caroline and dog Copper.
I’m a wife to my husband, Jason.
I grew up in NH with what I consider a complicated family whom I love very much. I attended the University of New Hampshire getting a BA in Family Studies and a Master’s in Social Work. Until I had Caroline I worked as a child protection social worker with the Department for Children and Families. It was through that work that I decided that I wanted to be a parent that was always present with their child, showed love unconditionally, made educated decisions about my child’s health and welfare, and was connected to my community.
Full disclosure about my parenting:
- At 13 months Caroline is still breast feeding and will continue to until she indicates she is done.
- We use disposable diapers.
- Caroline wears pink, skirts and sparkles on a regular basis.
- Although we try to eat local as much as possible, being organic is not a prerequisite for Caroline (or us for that matter) to eat it.
- Caroline has always slept in her own sleep space. First in our room and now in her own.
- I talk to Caroline all day, every day.
- Caroline has received all recommended immunizations for her age.
- She wears an amber necklace around her neck at all times except in the bathtub.
- We read several books a day, they are Caroline’s favorite toy.
- Caroline has a consistent nap and sleep schedule, but we can be flexible when need be.
- We have used the CIO method.
- Caroline watches/is in the room for 1-2 movies a day.
- I wear Caroline on a regular basis but am happy to let her roam.
- Caroline eats food off of the ground all of the time, and usually we don’t stop her.
- Caroline will ride backwards in her car seat until at least age 2 years old.
- Although we prefer wooden toys, or plastic toys from the US or Europe, Caroline has and plays with plastic toys made in China.
- Even though I am very happy with my family’s choice for me to be a SAHM many times I feel the need to throw in there that I work part time from home for BVTMB and facilitate a playgroup, for fear it doesn’t seem like enough (or who knows why???).
- We brush Caroline’s teeth twice a day with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
- Caroline is bounced to sleep every night and for most naps unless I drive longer so she falls asleep in the car.
- We inadvertently followed baby led weaning when Caroline refused purees, and thus she has been eating solids since 6 months. We often follow her lead in all areas.
- It makes my heart happy that when either of her grandmothers are around I become a second hand citizen and she prefers them over me (until she wants to cuddle or nurse).
- I look forward to going to Barre classes 2-3 times a week because they are my 1.5 hour escape to be alone and focus solely on myself.
- I am not a perfect parent and in moments of weakness sometimes I’m not sure I’m even a good parent.
So here’s the thing. That’s a long list of items I just shared. Maybe some of them are similar to things you have done or believe… maybe not. I bet no one reading this post will say that they 100% believe in or do the same things as me. And that is okay. It doesn’t matter.
I truly honestly believe that all parents make the best decisions for themselves and their children with the information that they have, and it’s not my job to change your mind or criticize you for your choices. Even as a DCF worker I was supposed to meet a parent where they were at and build off of the strengths they already had to ensure that their children’s basic needs were being met.
I breastfeed, my cousin doesn’t. Are both of our children fed? Yes. Are they both thriving? Yes. What else matters? I might think myself lucky I don’t have to warm a bottle in the middle of the night, but she might think herself lucky that her daughter is happy to be fed by other people besides herself.
When I meet another mama or caregiver, what do I hope for? I hope to find a friend, someone who gets the big “IT.” Someone who maybe doesn’t believe in the same things as me, but who is able and willing to have discussions that enrich our abilities to be parents, and maybe most importantly someone who is there.
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Thank you for this post. I too wonder about Mommy Wars and why it happens. We are all coming from different places and have different personalities but we are all moms.
I cried when I read this: “I am not a perfect parent and in moments of weakness sometimes I’m not sure I’m even a good parent.” Me too.
Awesome perspective on parenting in today’s world. I can totally relate to how you feel, and wonder “why all the bickering back and forth”? It’s so nice to hear and see different parenting styles and choices and then be able to pick and choose what things I would like to incorporate into my own mothering.
And there are many things that I’ve chosen to follow my children’s lead on, including formula-feeding both when they had severe food allergies as infants. That was a REALLY hard thing for me to come to terms with, and something I swore I would never do before becoming a mom. It has also helped shape my thoughts when I see other parent-child interactions now, because I know that no matter what that parent is (or isn’t) doing in my eyes, they have a reason for it and that’s OK!
I was actually in the grocery store the other day picking out some cereal, including a box of Lucky Charms because my husband likes it and I had a coupon so why not!? Anyway, a woman my age walked up to me and actually said “If that’s for your child you really shouldn’t be feeding that to them. You should try the organic Oat Mallows instead because there’s less sugar and no added dyes”. I wanted to laugh out loud because I couldn’t quite believe her audacity! Once I told her they were for my husband she looked pretty embarrassed, but really I shouldn’t have had to justify the purchase to her.
Kudos to you for your openness and attitude in this parenting journey!
Jordan thank you for the comment and feedback. It’s funny that you mention your story about the lucky charms and even though you obviously don’t have to (and the audacity, really!) explain your choice of cereal you still did… when I made the list of my parenting choices originally I had to edit it down because after every choice I found myself explaining why I chose to do those things. I decided not to include that, because it doesn’t matter why I do them! Really. And ps. If you ever do decide to get lucky charms for your kiddo, good for you, they can be a yummy treat 😉
I just love you. Your parenting list matches mine almost exactly, and I loved this most, “It makes my heart happy that when either of her grandmothers are around I become a second hand citizen and she prefers them over me (until she wants to cuddle or nurse).” Yep! Haha!
I was chatting with a some-day-to-be-momma the other day, and she was already talking about all the ways she wanted to parent. I could SO relate to that. We all have our parenting ideals and have it in our mind how we WANT to raise our kids.
Then they come along, and THEY lead our parenting styles. I love that you “often follow her lead in all areas,” and I find your parenting and I’m-OK attitude so inspirational!
And I’m a firm believer in the fact that, if you sometimes think you’re not a good parent, then you probably are a good parent. 🙂 Much love to you!
Gretchin thank you for all of your positive words! I totally had ideas of how I wanted to parent and then I think day 2 in I realized that letting Caroline lead how we did things made for a much happier baby and mommy and daddy. I am so grateful that I had the good sense to be flexible… I think I surprised people who knew me, as I wasn’t this flexible in my professional life 🙂 Oh motherhood, the biggest life lessons of all!
Spot on Josilyn! I think the isolation that often accompanies being a mother of young children coupled with hormones, sleep deprivation and the increased role of tech/social media in our lives has been a breeding ground for two things: support found in friends and groups curated on line, and bullying/mommy wars, sadly, also curated on line… Thank you for reminding us to “Think before we type”!
Thanks Nancy for your comment. It’s funny to think that our moms didn’t have the same access to the internet the way we do and sometimes I wonder how they were able to get support from others as easily we can. But I bet that the competition and negative feedback that can come from the internet didn’t exist either!