Friday, September 20, 2013

the mommy wars

Lately I have been noticing a trend in how mothers treat other mothers. Sometimes it's supportive, sometimes it's encouraging, but sometimes there's an underlying tone of "I'm better than you and my choices that I make for my children are better than the choices you make for yours." While I truly don't think that's what's really in the hearts of all moms, I really think it's our insecurity that breeds this kind of behavior that even I am guilty of.

There are SO many ways to do things as a parent. There is organic and non-organic food, breastmilk vs formula, circumcision vs non-circumcision, cosleeping vs non-cosleeping, vaccinating vs. non vaccinating, cloth diapers and disposable diapers, babyled weaning vs purees, natural birth vs induced and planned vaginal births or c-sections, spanking vs non spanking, sleep training etc etc... I mean the list is ENDLESS. Who can really keep up with all that? What are we trying to prove by being pushy and giving non-solicited advice to other moms? Who are we to assume that because we do or do not do something, that we are somehow a better mother or love our child more than that mom does? We do not know a mothers story or reasoning behind her choices and it is not up to us to judge. Period.

I don't know about you... but everyday I feel like I'm just trying to keep my head above the water. Everyday, I feel like I'm not doing something correctly, that I could be doing something better. OH and not only do I feel that way, but there are other moms who remind me that I'm not good enough (accidentally I assume) and I could be making better choices for my son. I'm sure I have (accidentally) made other moms feel that way in the past. I have been berated for choosing to circumcise my son, not co-sleeping, choosing to use purees instead of doing baby-led weaning, letting my child cry, being pro-spanking... The reality is that we (my husband and I) do what we feel is the best thing for our son and for us as a family, as I know the rest of you do.

There have been so many articles circulating the internet lately about non-vaccinated children spreading the "highest # of measles cases in the last 17 years." while I don't agree, the articles posting up on my minifeed INFURIATED me due to the ignorance and misinformation of the article. (I'm not sparking a vaccine debate here- it's just part of the story). But, because it made me so mad that someone would doubt that because I don't vaccinate my child that I am somehow loving my child less and not doing the best I can and doing what we feel as a family is the best thing for us... I passive-agressively posted a couple of articles basically counter-arguing that article, with information on the other side. I'm all about being educated on both sides of an issue and spent LONG hours researching whether to vaccinate my child or not. So to read ignorant things like that coming from a non-reliable news source made me MAD and I reacted. But here's the thing... I shouldn't have. I acted in that moment the same way that I hate being treated. Saying- "you think this, but here's what I think and this is better." hear me say this louder: I am so sorry. I owe an apology to everyone who read that and thought... "ugh... I can't believe she's acting that way." or whatever you thought, if you thought it. I am no better than anyone and the way I do things is no better than the next mother. I have not been able to get it off my mind. so if I upset you and you were mad at me... please forgive me. I am so sorry.

I want to celebrate your victories with you, encourage you through the hard times, and enjoy the proud moments of motherhood. There will be many things that we will regret and wish that we could do over once our children are grown... But the only thing I can hope for is that my babies know I loved them fiercely and did the best I knew how. They will probably never thank us for putting them in cloth diapers, but I bet they will thank us for teaching them what it means to be a person of character and value. They will probably never thank us for breast feeding or formula feeding, but they will thank us for teaching them what grace and forgiveness are. Those are the kinds of things I want to choose. That's what I want to invest my time and my heart in.

I want to tell all the moms to be, new moms, seasoned moms... we are all in this together. We should be empowering each other and helping one another be the best mom that we can be, the mom that we want to be... not the mom that pinterest, internet moms groups, and the moms we "think" we should be. Being a mother is the HARDEST thing I have ever done. Everyday we have to choose our child over ourselves, we have to sustain another human being, and we are responsible for a LIFE! Add to that all the other choices we have to make as parents, it's no wonder we are exhausted and burnt out. It's no wonder we compare! There are all these "supermoms" out there... moms who have it all together, who are able to cook a delicious meal every single night, whose babies have slept through the night from night one, their kids don't cry, their hubby is completely satisfied, their house is all picked up, they have time to do everything they want to do, she has no stretch marks, her relationship with the Lord is perfect... man oh man, that sounds great! It's not reality.

Let me be very honest here: I rarely cook. My house is a disaster 95% of the time. My child is a horrible sleeper. Sometimes I spend too much time doing other things when I should be paying more attention to my child. Sometimes I want  NEED a break. sometimes I don't want to make a decision. sometimes my husband gets my leftovers because I am too exhausted from being a mom during the day. my relationship with the Lord isn't great 90% of the time. I have stretch marks. sometimes I operate out of fear. sometimes being a mother and a wife feels like too much of a responsibility and I'm frustrated as to why the Lord thought I was capable to do so. I am a HOT MESS 99% of the time.

...but you know what... my child adores me. regardless of what kind of diapers he wears that day or whether or not his food is made at home or in a pouch. he loves me eventhough he sleeps in a different room. he loves me. all the time he loves me.

Of course there is such thing as abuse (which is never okay) and evidence based choices, and we should make big decisions based on doing our research. We do owe that to our children when we are making choices on their behalf. Do your research, educate yourself, then decide how to proceed. people will feel differently about certain choices than you do, than I do. We all make choices based on our specific family needs, our beliefs, and what we know. You can't fault anyone for that.

But here's the truth we all need to dwell in... YOU are a great mom. I am a great mom. WE are great moms. Our child was chosen specifically for us and us for them. No one else could do the job better. Whatever choice you choose, it is enough. Whether you nurse or use formula, you are a good mom. Whether you cook organically or not for your family, you are a good mom. Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, you are a good mom. Whether you homeschool or send your kids to school, you are a good mom. Whatever your choice. Hear this- you are GREAT. you are doing what you feel is best for your child and for that, I applaud and admire you, mama. 

THANK YOU to the moms who encourage me to be the woman, wife, mother, and friend that I desire to be. Thank you to the moms who love me where I'm at.

as moms- let's be a united front. let's love each other like crazy and stand by each other when the baby hasn't stopped screaming all day and it's 6:00 and dinner hasn't crossed your mind. let's show each other grace and mercy, just as Jesus does with us.