March 14, 2015

My Take on The Mommy Wars: Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've only been a mom for eight months but I've observed and participated in the mom community for nearly 15 years now. I've been a member of BabyCenter, TheBump and CafeMom and love a number of honest mom blogs including ScaryMommy, RenegadeMothering and MommyShorts, so I guess you could say I've had a wide range of exposure. As an observer years ago I started noticing something weird. Now that I am a mom it's glaringly obvious. We're all stuck in freaking high school only now we call it "Mommy Wars"!

What the hell happened? Somewhere along the way we started putting ourselves in these little boxes, complete with our own labels, just like the cliques from back in the day! And then we label others based on what we think they believe? Too many of us are way too crazy about our ideals that instead of just being moms we are now "crunchy" or "silky." What the heck? I know my mom never labeled herself as "free range" or "attached."  She was just a mom. Now it's actually a thing - "What kind of mom are you?" And heaven forbid you meet someone who is the total opposite "type" of mom, who knows what will happen?!

To sum up, moms can be mean. This is especially true when coming across a mom whose beliefs shock, disgust or confuse while online. That's when the bitches come out.

Well, with an aim to help others, and through careful research and observation I subjected myself to this behavior (ok, I just sit in different parenting forums and watch the drama unfold and love it) and I have identified and chronicled each type of mom that you may come across PLUS how to handle her. This should solve all of the mom wars from here on out. So without further ado here's what I've learned:

The Super Mom - 

She has four kids all involved in different activities, works full-time but still signs up to chaperone a field trip, has a happy husband and a fantastic group of best girlfriends. She has it all and seems to be practically perfect in every way. You want to hate her but she's just too damn nice and you can't quite put your finger on it but something about her reminds you of your own mom. She can be your best friend or your worst enemy - it all depends on how you treat her because she sure as hell doesn't need you in her life. She is confident and, above all else, she chooses to be happy, and that is what gives her her power. She doesn't really have it together any more than you do, it's all about the way she handles the curve balls. Get into her fold and watch how she does it or get out of her way. But above all else, support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Wounded Mom - 

She's been through hell and back. Whether it's childhood trauma, sexual assault, infertility, loss, developmental disabilities or chronic health problems she has been hurt and as a result she parents with a vengeance. She is often fierce and proud and she will fight but may still be vulnerable and scared and seeking connection. Don't judge her, don't upset her and unless she wants to talk about it don't pry on her personal details and you will be friends. She may not take kindly to differing opinions, especially if they come off as dismissive of her own, but it's mostly because she has figured out the hard way what works and what doesn't and wants the world to know how much she knows. She's a tough nut to crack but if you can get her to connect she will inevitably be a source of admiration and hope for you in difficult times.  Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Picture Perfect Mom - 

This one is sneaky. I remind myself all the time that every Super Mom I come across could really be The Picture Perfect Mom.  She works her ass off to make sure the world thinks her life is awesome when in reality the shit hit the fan months ago and she's barely holding it together.  She might be barely making ends meet but her kids are always clean, fed and dressed in the best. She may hate her husband and want to leave but tell the world she's lucky to have such a wonderful man. She might despise spending all day every day with her children but post online about how fulfilling it is being a stay-at-home-mom. She is just barely getting by emotionally but you won't ever know it unless you can get her to drink a bottle of wine and bribe her with your own embarrassing life stories. She will be a good friend if you can break down the wall but it's hard to get close enough to see the truth. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Terrified Mom  - 

She second guesses every single choice every single day regarding her baby and constantly seeks outward approval from family or peers. Even when she tells herself she's doing the right thing she doesn't truly believe it unless it proves to have actually worked. This started very early in her pregnancy and isn't likely to go away so just roll with it. Encourage her and remind her she's doing great and that there's a lot to be said for maternal instinct. Allow her to take charge when she can to build her confidence, don't step in and coach her just because she's unsure of herself. Let her learn and make mistakes and show her that everything will be ok and she'll start to believe it really can be. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Crunchy Mom - 

She is all natural from conception to college. When pregnant she will tell you about her plans for an all natural homebirth followed by extended breastfeeding, baby led weaning and homeschooling. She likely co-sleeps, babywears and probably would not circumcise. She adheres to some specific parenting choices although the variety of these can span a pretty wide spectrum and she will fight like a beast in support of them (do not ever, EVER stumble into a circumcision debate. You will not emerge unscathed). She's smart and alarmingly well-researched. It could be science-backed and it could be anecdotal evidence, either way she knows her stuff and why it works for her family. She might know a shit ton about babies and child development or she might just like doing things the old fashioned way. She could probably teach you a thing or two about anything you'd like as long you're open to it. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Chill Mom - 

She really doesn't let anything get to her. Ever. She might call herself "free-range" but back in the day they would have just called her a mom. She loves her children but is pretty hands off and you really worry that someone might get seriously hurt but miraculously no one ever does. Her house may be a mess sometimes but she usually has it under control before it becomes too much and her kids probably help her clean with no complaints too. She doesn't yell or spank and although her kids might have a lot of stuff or a lot of privileges they're polite, helpful and usually not spoiled. She is always good to call up and have a laugh with because she isn't stressing over dishes or laundry or misbehaving children because despite having such a chill mom her kids are angels. You want to be her but you also kind of fear her. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The "Mom" Mom - 

She is battling against all these labels and refuses to be put in a box. She fits in all of and none of these categories at any given time and she recognizes that she is learning as she goes. She accepts it and does not diminish others for their choices. She's just doing her Mom thing, doing whatever she sees fit, keeping her kids alive and well and herself moderately happy and healthy. She's just Mom and if we let ourselves we would finally see that she is all of us.


There isn't a mom out there who starts off this journey with all the answers. She may have good intentions but you just don't know until you know. We spend every day of our children's lives hoping that the choices we make are "right" and "good" but no one knows anything for sure. And yet we debate things such as birthing and sleeping choices? We vilify each other over breastfeeding or car seats and circumcision or ear piercing.  Why the heck do we allow this?

Aren't we all striving for the same thing? To raise our babies the way we see fit?

Not the "right" way. Not the way "they" say we should. Not in any way but the way we see fit, as mother to those children. Same thing, for everyone, and yet we are so quick to call out a fellow mom when the way THEY do things does not mesh with the way WE do things. Just because we disagree.

It's not everyone, thankfully. Most of us are trying to build the Mom community up but there are these others. We'll call them Sanctimommies for the sake of continuity. They are filled with judgement and hate and ignorance and they just want to watch the world burn.  And the internet makes it a thousand times worse with the guise of anonymity and lack of repercussions. I am so sick of it. 

This is what makes parenting in the 21st century so unique (read: such a pain the ass) compared to anytime in history. We possess the ability to, in the blink of an eye, compare one's parenting choices to someone else's and pass judgement without even a second of consideration for the other person's perspective or experiences. We can even say it right to their face(book)! But instead of being kind and helpful we say:

"You're a shitty mom!" or
"You're a moron and you're going to kill your kid!" or
"Well my kid did this and he's fine but my sister's did that and he now has {insert some super sad or terrifying thing here}!  Good luck!" or
"No more babies for you!"

Dude. She asked if it was ok to give her baby honey nut cheerios. Seriously?

How sad is it that?  Rather than choosing to support, teach and encourage our fellow Moms we feel the need to compete or condemn and tear each other to bits?

We don't even realize how we are harming ourselves and our children. Instead of holding steadfast to our views in the face of opposition we should all take a step back and see how the lines blur.

We have the exact same goal.
We all need support and understanding, no matter what we believe.
We must banish the doubt and judgement and replace them with trust and support.
We need to love each other and ourselves. 

When we are able to do these things the entire community of moms around the world will feel the shift, the weight we burden ourselves with will lift and we can just be moms. No shitty labels or rules that come with them.

As long as we're not hurting anyone we should be free to be whoever we are and do whatever we believe, however we want to do it without getting backlash or advice or a lesson or judgement from someone who just doesn't get it or wouldn't do it themselves

Think about this: Will our children will thank us more for showing them what it is to be a good person or for doing things the "right" way based on what we want them to believe?

We need to model what it is to love no matter what and how to share, learn and grow from each other, rather than how to build walls around ourselves and our ideals.

Because at the end of the day the only thing our children (and all of us) really do need is each other.


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