My friend who blocks at Mommyjuiced recently wrote this post and I was reminded of some realities that I have learned that I wish weren’t…well, realities. She comments on how she was shocked to discover how hard mothers can be on each other and she urges us to “play nice”. I completely agree with her. My husband has been saying since I first met him: women are much harder on each other than men ever are on them. It turns out, he is right. The men I know never notice “muffin tops” or “baby bellies” or “droopy boobs”. They just notice the women (their wives) and hope that they will be lucky enough to get lucky with that hot mama!
When I had my first baby, I was pretty preoccupied by my residency and studying for my Royal College Exam (the culmination of 13 years of post-grad training and thousands of dollars) to notice much about the outside world. My life consisted of baby, studying, and trying to stay sane. To be honest, it was actually quite a nice time in my life. But when Micah was 11 months old, the exams were over and I emerged into the world of mothers and play dates. And I became acutely aware of such foreign debates as “bottle vs breast”, “co-sleep vs. crib”, and ” baby-wearing vs. stroller pushing”. I was kind of shocked with the passion which mothers would defend their choices. After all, I did a mix of all of these things. I thought everyone did! We were growing and surviving as a little family and we would do what seemed right at the time, the moment, for baby, for parents, for the situation. I couldn’t figure out why women felt the need to assertively delineate a “good choice” from a “bad choice”. It bothered me how sometimes I would come away from a conversation with another mother feeling bad about myself. This isn’t right, I would think. We should be able to support each other in our most important and challenging role!
Then the truth dawned on me: it would seem that only one way can be the “right” way. Yes, that seemed to be how so many women were viewing these choices. There is only one best way to do things. So if you and I are doing something differently, only one of us can be right. And obviously, I would never do something that wasn’t the best thing, so you must be wrong! Yes, I really think that is how many of us navigate the world of parenting. Likely, it is the result of insecurity, anxiety, and a desire to do the best job we can. But the effects are so negative. They can cause a bottle-feeding mother to drop out of a mommies group, when she is so desperately lonely, because she is made to feel guilty by the breastfeeding moms. It can make a mother whose child hasn’t ever slept through night not ask for help and support because she is or is not co-sleeping.
We should be each other’s greatest supporters and advocates. We are on the SAME team and we should back our teammates up! I, for one, have been making a very conscious effort in this department. When I catch myself in a judgemental moment, I try to imagine why that mother might have made that decision to say something, do something, etc. More often than not, I can quickly come up with an interpretation that immediately changes my judgemental feelings for compassionate feelings. (I am embarrassed, though, by how many judgemental thoughts I have!)
The very popular blogger, Glennon Melton, at Momastery, wrote this post a while back and I LOVE it, with a capital L. Glennon talks about the whole stay at home mom vs working mom debate. You can image how I love this debate – NOT! She wrote a beautiful insightful post that I urge you all to read. You will feel good about your choices after you read it. And this is how I think women should strive to make other women feel.
We should, most definitely, “Play Nice”. And you know what, I bet our children would learn a little more about playing nice if we did. Thanks, Jody for the great post and reminder!