Mommy Wars

When I first announced my pregnancy back in April, I was instantly ushered into an elite, secret society of women that I had never known existed.  I wasn’t asked whether or not I wanted to join, because one doesn’t have a choice in such matters.  Once you’ve announced that you’re expecting, you’ve paid the dues… and you’re IN.

Of course, up until the moment that you actually give birth, you’re in this purgatory level where you’re fought over by fiercely-divided, opinionated women who try to convince you that their position is not only the right choice, but THE choice.  And all I can say is this…  If Benjamin Franklin was correct in stating that “A house divided cannot stand,” well, it’s a good thing that we don’t all live together in the same house.

That would be a mess!

The breast-feeding position is no joke.  Granted, women who decide to do so have scientific evidence backing their claim of ‘breast is best’.  There really are countless health reasons (both for mom and baby) to support such a choice, and it’s something that I fully intend to try.  And since my position is that I plan to do it, I have been welcomed into this community with open arms.  This is how I know that there is a lot of backstabbing in the direction of those who decide to feed with formula.  Women who decide to use formula are talked about as though they’re selfish or weaker.

Still being in the decision-making level, however, I thought I’d use my unique position by defending moms who feed with formula and get their take on things as well.  After all, I intend to try… but I also know that – although natural – it’s not an easy process.  I have many friends who couldn’t breastfeed due to medical issues, work situations, or other difficulties.  I also have friends who outright chose not to breastfeed, because doing so made them feel restricted and unhappy.  They were happier, more confident moms when they switched to formula; and I’ve always respected their decisions (because I can’t help but feel that moms really do have to make the decision that is best for them and their families).

But much to my surprise, there was a very strong contempt for breastfeeding moms on that side of the playing field as well.  I was told things like, “Oh my goodness, breastfeeding is just so gross.”  Or “I fed my baby formula, and he’s doing fine… so breastfeeding is so overrated.  It’s just a club that women want to be a part of.”  Or “Breastfeeding moms think they’re all that.  If they want to be oozing milk for months on end, then good for them.”

The harshness coming from both sides shocked me.  (Obviously not from everyone, as I have surrounded myself with very supportive women and mommy friends.  But still, the opinionated mommies are quite loud and growing in number).

The strong opinions didn’t end with feeding.  At this level, there are many positions waiting to be chosen.  Whether to work or to be a stay-at-home mom.  Whether to use cloth diapers or to buy Pampers.  Whether to buy baby food or to invest in a baby-food processor.

Oh, and whether or not to chose pain medication during labor…  That’s a huge point of contention.  Women who do get pain meds accuse other women of being ridiculous and trying to be heroes.  Women who don’t get pain meds accuse other women of being weaker than them and say that these women didn’t have ‘natural’ labor.  As far as I’m concerned, if you grew a baby for 9 months and then pushed it out, that’s as natural as you can get (pain meds or not).  But I also believe that a labor without pain meds is an amazing accomplishment and a healthier experience for both mom and baby.

Soooo, why does there have to be a competition between decisions?  Why can’t we accept that every single labor is different and that – at the end of the day – women make the decision that they feel is best?

There’s even a battle as to how soon is too soon to take baby out into public.  Nate and I already told our families that we can’t make it to the family Christmas gatherings this year, because Brady will be under 6 weeks old, we have large families, and the holiday will be smack-dab in the middle of flu season.  (Three different doctors already urged us to make this decision, telling us that it would be much safer for Brady if he wasn’t subjected to enclosed spaces with so many people).  So we plan to have our immediate families over on Christmas Eve and Christmas… but – just for this year – we won’t be able to make it to the get-togethers for aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  We feel that it’s just too risky, even if it was a difficult decision to make.

Mothers who have made similar decisions cheer us on, welcoming us into their corner.  Other mothers are crossing their arms and protesting, telling us that they took their babies out much sooner and – look – they’re fine.  I was surprised at the spite that came with some of these protests.  It was as though they thought that our choice was somehow contradicting their choice.  When in reality, Nate and I were just making the choice that we felt was best for us.

I continue to be shocked by the harshness coming from both sides, mainly because – at the end of the day – being a mom is the toughest job out there.  I don’t care how you feed your baby, how many hours a week you work (if any), whether or not you chose pain meds,  or whether or not you use cloth diapers.  I don’t even care if you physically carried a baby in your womb or if you adopted your child!  Being a mom is hard.  It’s scary and doesn’t come with an all-inclusive guide-book to keep you from making mistakes.  Regardless of your choices, you will face sleepless nights, tears of frustration, and moments when you’re convinced that you’re doing it all wrong.  You’ll also experience love that you never knew existed, joy that can’t be explained, and a willingness to sacrifice everything.

I wish that we women would drop our competitive spirit and stop making everything a battle.  I wish we would learn to respect each other and realize that – more often than not – mothers make choices that they truly feel are best.  There’s enough out there to knock us down without us doing it to each other.

It’s not about who’s the stronger woman.  It’s about standing together…  Because together we are strong!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Mommy Wars

    • Thank you, Shelby!! I’m very fortunate that I’m surrounded by very encouraging and uplifting moms for the most part, both here at home… AND in the blogger world! 🙂 I definitely try to focus on that and to not get discouraged by the ‘mommy wars’ that too often do take place… 🙂

  1. I, luckily, haven’t heard a lot directed at me on these topics (although I’m sure I will as I get on to my next trimester), but I have heard the heartbreaking stories of women who did have to deal with these issues – some of them becoming actually depressed from it all. Of course, I think that women in general endure this no matter what life stage they are at or approaching. Women who have no children (and on the flip side, those with “too many” children) deal with judgment and unwarranted advice as well. I’m sure as grandmothers we will probably be dealing with whether or not we are good at that as well!
    I do agree that we need to stand together, with empathy and compassion for each other, no matter what the woman is going through.

    • VERY good point! We women are hard on each other, even when it’s not motherhood being discussed. My husband always says that he couldn’t handle being female, if only because of the strong opinions and harshness that he so often sees. It’s so very sad… especially when the result is women being cut down and even depressed!
      I think that – at the end of the day – there will always be negativity and harshness. BUT those of us who are fed up with it can chose to be the louder influence, bringing positivity and encouragement to the younger generation coming after us. 🙂

  2. It is really sad that it becomes such a black and white, right and wrong world. I think it’s because raising a child is so personal. Everyone wants to think they are doing the best job they possibly can so even the seemingly small decisions are wrought with emotion. I know you’ll lead by example and be a wonderful and non-judgmental resource for other mothers. 🙂

    • Hmmm, you bring up a very good point! Parents strive to do the absolute best for their children, put all that emotion into a decision, and so – when someone chooses to do otherwise – they sometimes take it as a personal assault… and so the criticisms and ‘attacks’ begin. I truly hope that, having seen some of those attacks in action, I always remember to be encouraging and uplifting for the younger generation coming after me! 🙂 Those of us who aren’t parents yet or who are just starting out can chose to bring hope – and not criticism – to those following us!!

  3. ” It was as though they thought that our choice was somehow contradicting their choice. When in reality, Nate and I were just making the choice that we felt was best for us.”

    This. This is it exactly. I have been watching these mommy wars from the sidelines for years. And it’s ridiculous. Often I get pulled into the middle of them because people say “well, she’s PAID to care for children, clearly she knows the best choices”. Where in truth, I try to respect the choices of the parents who’s children I care for and make up the rest as I go along. I know a few things I hope to do, but I’m not dead set on any one side of it. Everything from pain meds to tummy/back sleeping to breastfeeding to cosleeping to discipline to private/public/home school, etc etc. And it never seems to end with some people. Thankfully while I have an array of friends who have chosen very different paths, they all respect each other’s choices. It may not be what they choose for their own families, but they can understand and respect their friends’ choices. Because guess what, just because we choose it for our family, doesn’t mean we’re judging anyone else for doing something different in their family. 🙂 I am with you, girl!

    • Oh, yes, those are a few that I forgot to add to my list, but they’re big ones of contention!! (Cosleeping, discipline, schooling…). I guess I haven’t advanced far enough (since I’m still pregnant) to have been subject to those topics a whole lot yet, BUT I can imagine that it will come up in the next couple of years!!
      I’m sure that, since you work with kids, you see all sides of this quite often! It’s pretty crazy how harsh some of the opinions can become, especially when directed at younger couples / new parents.
      It did bother me at first; because when you’re a new parent, the more experienced ones tend to laugh at you as though your decision is silly. It can get quite demeaning… and frustrating.
      I have to remind myself that Nate and I are ultimately the parents to this baby, and that we have to live with the decisions we make. So we need to think about it, pray about it, and then stick with our choice! If it doesn’t work, we come up with another plan. Ha, ha. But the point is that parents have to do what they feel is right. I’m really fortunate that despite the mommy wars I do encounter, I am surrounded by some amazing mommy friends who are supportive and encouraging! It challenges me to be that source of strength and light to the younger couples coming after us!!! 🙂

  4. What a great post! Sounds like you’re already on the path to being an amazing momma. In the end, it doesn’t matter what’s right for “everybody else”… you have to do what’s best for your family, your little babe and you.

    • Thank you so much!
      When I think about encouraging momma’s who are uplifting new moms (as apposed to bringing them down), I definitely include you in that list! Your blog always brings a smile to my face, because you write with honesty… but also with such positivity and joy. 🙂 Even if the mommy wars may never end, those of us who believe that we should support each other can chose to be the louder voice! 🙂

      • Agreed! I think in addition to the network of crazy moms out there, there is also a network of amazing women who open their hearts to new mommas. Stick with them and smile and nod to the crazies. Also, remember that every baby is different and no one will ever know your little love better than you, so trust your instincts!

  5. I love this post so much! I have already heard a lot about people’s sides with breast-feeding, natural birth, working, and more. When Jimmy and I got married, women in my church already started in on me asking me when I was going to have kids and whether or not I would breast-feed them or use medication while giving birth! I have already received so much unsolicited advice that is just crazy! I love the point you made that it doesn’t matter how you have your baby or what exactly you do to nourish it, but that you have it and that alone is hard. I completely agree that there’s no need for the mommy wars and that moms all need to stand strong together to encourage and support each other!

    • Oh, yes, the ‘baby questions’ begin RIGHT after marriage, don’t they? 🙂 Nate and I knew we wanted to wait about five years before trying, so we had plenty of time to get used to the endless questions. And I was definitely surprised when people would ask us how many kids we were going to have or if I planned to breastfeed, because I hadn’t even really thought about it too much at that point. Ha, ha. 🙂
      Even now that I’m pregnant, I’ve been asked, “So do you want a boy or a girl for your second child?” And I think, “Whoa! I need to have this first one and enjoy him for a little while!” Ha, ha!! People do mean well, but it’s pretty crazy how quickly they like to jump ahead. 😉
      And YES! We women need to stick together and to uplift each other, instead of tearing each other down. I know that the mommy wars will probably never end… But I just see that as a challenge for the rest of us to be even louder with our encouragement and to stand together even stronger. 🙂 We can chose to be the greater influence for the generation coming after us, instead of letting the negativity be the louder voice.

  6. The most important thing is raising your child in a way that works for you.
    It is very frustrating that some woman can try to impose their methods on other moms and look down on those who don’t raise their child in the same way.

    New moms are judged in so many ways. I’m glad that your not judging yourself as well.

    • Thank you, Samantha!! I think that my ability to be confident in the choices that Nate and I make together (instead of being negatively influenced by the mommy wars) is that I am also surrounded by some amazing, strong women who are encouraging, uplifting, and supportive! My heart goes out to the new moms who don’t have that… I can’t imagine facing such a new adventure without having that support group. If the only voices I had in my life were ripping apart my decisions, I would definitely struggle with those decisions and wonder if I was doing it all wrong. So this makes me want to be a positive influence on younger women who come after me… I’ve learned how important it is to have those positive role models!!

  7. I think you def are coming into this whole thing with the right attitude! I felt pretty strongly about exclusively breastfeeding and going all natural with labor- and I now formula feed and got just about everything imaginable to make me comfortable in the delivery room! I have come across plenty of Moms who will look down on you for not choosing the same thing they did- In the end I feel as though most of the ones who are “judging” have felt judged themselves & really want to be able to defend their decisions by making it THE decision to make…it’s a viscous cycle but it can certainly be stopped if we all just supported one another in being the best Mom WE can be. I find myself biting my tongue a lot when people are openly criticizing something I do with Elliot, (whether they know it or not) I figure it’s better to not even try to defend yourself- all it does is add fuel to a fire that needs to be put out the second it gets burning!

    • Your story is one that every pregnant women should read! I think we all come to the table with plans and how we expect things to go… But at the end of the day, we need to make the best decision in the moment, because labor (and I imagine parenting) rarely goes according to plan!! 🙂
      And you bring up a good point! I agree that a lot of the judgment does stem from a vicious cycle… Women have been judged and criticized, so they take on that same role (in an effort to defend the decisions they choose to make). I hope that those of us who are recognizing it can help put a stop to it by – as you said – not adding fuel to the fire… and deciding to be a positive influence instead.
      It’s not always easy!! But I imagine it’s worth it in the end. 🙂

  8. These days, everyone has an opinion on everything!! I can only imagine how bad it is in the mommy club, haha. I’m sure it’s great to get help and advice from others, but no one wants to be bossed around!

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