I recently read about something called The Mom Pledge, on my friend Elizabeth's blog, and it really piqued my interest.
She's written this great book about ceasing and desisting from the colossally ridiculous Mommy Wars, where we moms beat each other up mercilessly for making different choices than we ourselves did. Stay-at-home vs. working, breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding, co-sleeping vs. cry-it-out, spanking vs. no-spank, cloth vs. disposable, jar baby food vs. grow your own, circumcise vs. intact, baby-wearing vs. exersaucers.....the list of these battles never ends. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of us are all doing the very best we can with our kids, from day to day, doing what we believe in our hearts is the best thing for our own families. Who can find fault with that? Why must we not just critcize, but crucify, those who make different choices than we do? What makes us the authority on someone else's child? What right do we have to demean and excoriate someone else's mothering? Is ours so perfect? Really?
So, I have a few things to say about the Mommy Wars and the Mom Pledge. You knew that was coming, right?
I've pretty much laid out my feelings on the Mommy Wars. But in case there is any doubt, I think they are stupid and destructive. Motherhood is a gift. It's a blessing. And until you are there in it, no one can tell you how unbelievably difficult it is, at the same time it is so rewarding. It's so hard, to be so sleep deprived with a new infant, a colicky baby, a stubborn toddler....it's shocking that such a small person can literally bring a grown woman to her knees. But they do. Daily.
Which is why we moms need other, more experienced moms so desperately to help us navigate the rough waters. And we don't need their criticism. Especially as a new mom, you need to know that you're doing ok. Even if you can't nurse, or if you have to go back to work, or if you simply need someone else to take the baby out of earshot for 20 minutes so you can decompress. So what if you aren't following whatever the latest baby book of "wisdom" just got published, because there just aren't enough hours in the day to grow your own organic garden to make your own organic baby food, hand-wash your baby's organic cloth diapers in spring water and lovingly prepare perfectly balanced meals for your adoring spouse and perfectly-behaved older children who never complain about what's for dinner and beg for the pizza delivery man? So what if you're flying by the seat of your pants? So what if you haven't showered in two days? So what?
I remember vividly when my boys were babies, and I stayed awake at night, when I should have been getting the sleep I needed so badly. I stayed up worrying because some other mom on a message board told me I had irrevocably scarred my son and he would fault me someday because of choices my husband and I made for him. Other moms proclaimed against those of us who had taken pain medication in labor, that we had all made conscious choices to drug our babies, and that they would suffer for it and we'd have no one to blame but ourselves. There is no limit to the ways mothers can wound other moms, and frankly it makes me angry.
Why? Seriously, why? Are we all that insecure with our choices that we need to beat up on someone else to make ourselves feel better? Do we really think we're so much better than others who choose differently?
Only in the last couple of years have I come to truly appreciate the depth of my need for my circle of girlfriends....my village. I lean on them and they lean on me. Dude, I NEED them. And I have been blessed, BLESSED, I tell you, with a phenomenal group of friends and acquaintances that help me navigate, whether they realize it or not. Some moms I know a little bit....we chit-chat in the school parking lot waiting to pick up our kids or on the sidelines of the soccer field. Some moms I know better....we attend Bible study, prayer groups, or book clubs together and share more of ourselves. And some moms I know really well: we've helped each other pick up pieces of broken relationships and comforted each other through real losses.
All of them are crucial and all of them, I need. A lot.
Which is why I've chosen to take The Mom Pledge. Not that my little blog gets much traffic or many comments but I don't tolerate bullying or being mean for the sake of being mean. I don't tolerate it in my kids' school or in their behavior, I don't tolerate it in my life, and I really don't tolerate it in conversation and interactions I happen to be a part of. I like a good healthy debate and differences of opinion are welcome.
But the bottom line is respect, people. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
We moms have another choice to make. Right now. Do you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution? Do you want to help other moms and offer advice and friendship or criticize them and make them feel worse? Do you want to help create and be part of a supportive community or a playground bully, a "mean girl"?
Play nice :)