It’s Time to End the Mommy Wars
When I was born, it was 1987, and my mother was 25. She was a stay-at-home mom to me while my father worked nights driving a forklift at a warehouse. We didn't do play dates or Mommy and Me gym classes. Instead, we stayed home, read books, played in the backyard, and I attempted to exercise with her to Jane Fonda workouts.
There were no Mommy Wars. None. She didn't feel bad that she didn't breastfeed or that she didn't make my baby food from scratch. Actually, as a one-income family, sometimes she shared my jar of pureed bananas to go with her white rice for lunch.
All that mattered was that her baby was happy and healthy. The end.
Now, fast forward to 2015 in all of its sharing, judging, shaming, jealous, competitive glory, and in comparison to way-back-when, life kinda sucks for moms.
I cannot log on to any social media account without seeing a breast vs. bottle comment war or a debate about whether it's OK for kids to climb up the slide at the playground. It's not just the big topics like breastfeeding or vaccines making the rounds, either … it's everything.
Gender stereotypes: How dare you call your daughter a princess!
Lazy parenting: Your child gets how much screen time in a day?
Procreation choices: Your kids are going to hate each other being so close together in age.
Further procreation choices: Don't you want your child to have a sibling? They'll end up spoiled as an only child.
School decisions: Preschool is a necessity/waste of time.
Food choices: That macaroni and cheese is just full of hormones and processed materials and artificial flavors. It's terrible.
And those are just the opinions I've seen in the last 24 hours during my normal casual glance-through of my social media feeds. (Yes, my kids were watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse during breakfast while I looked at my phone. SUE ME.)
It needs to stop. It's time to end the Mommy Wars once and for all.
When did we move from the simplicity that parenting afforded us 30 years ago to complete hostility that every other mother on the planet is not making the same parenting choices we are?
My oldest was born in 2011, and it wasn't until I started posting pictures did the Mommy Wars reveal themselves to me. Suddenly, I had friends and family commenting on every aspect of my parenting life, offering me new statistics or research at every turn. Thanks, second-cousin-that-I-vaguely-remember-meeting-one-time-in-my-life — I'll be sure to look into placenta recipes if I have another baby. Absolutely … not.
I'm not innocent either. I grew up with the Internet and had a personal computer in my room from a young age. It's natural to me to share my thoughts and opinions with the world, and I have inevitably been a part of the Mommy Wars myself; it sort of sucks you in.
But I am making a personal promise to take a step back from the front lines. We should all make that promise and never let another new parent see the ugly side of mommyhood that is revealed once they are wheeled out of the hospital. Nothing is more daunting and scary when you're a new mom than to feel attacked and ridiculed for decisions you spent a lot of time and energy researching for your child.
We should be confident in our choices, but if you remember your first few months as a mother, you know how overwhelming literally everything is. Support, encouragement, and friendly discussion should be the goal of all parenting conversations, whether you are holding your brand new baby as a first-time mom or navigating the hell that is junior high and high school with your not-so-little-anymore babies.
Social media has made it easier for parents to connect to each other all over the world and has helped alleviate a little of the isolation that can sometimes creep in when you're the one staying home with the kids. If we make it a point to use social media for good instead of as a vehicle for judgment and shame, we can end the Mommy Wars for good.