“Natural” birth, C-section
Cloth diapers, disposables
Pacifier, no pacifier
Bumpers, empty crib
Stay at home, daycare
Sleep train, soothe to sleep
What I’ve discovered in my nearly 18 months as a mom is there is no right or wrong way to raise a child … only what works for you and your family. But there is an awful lot of negativity out there on the interwebs (especially since that controversial Time cover story came out on Mother’s Day)… a lot of mom-bashing and name-calling, a lot of judgment and discrimination (as I witnessed when my daycare webcam post went up on Huffington Post). Instead of supporting one another for our choices (or lack thereof) we gang up against one another.
I have friends who are SAHMs, working moms, part-time working moms. I have friends who have nannies, friends whose parents watch their kids, friends whose kids are, like Maya, in daycare. I don’t judge them for their decisions and I don’t think they judge me for mine. We’re all respectful of each other and understanding that different situations work for different people.
But out in cyberspace, it’s a minefield. While I still think the mommy wars have been made out to be a much bigger deal than need be in the media, all you have to do is visit a site like Babble, The Bump, or BabyCenter and spend a few minutes perusing their communities (wearing a bullet-proof vest!) to see that there is a battle alive and well, to some extent.
In a heated political season, I can’t help but draw the comparison between political parties and mothers with opposing viewpoints on child-rearing.
The irony is, (in theory) ALL public officials want a safe, healthy, educated, prosperous nation. Likewise, (in theory) ALL moms want safe, healthy, educated, prosperous children. The roads to get there might be different — and they might duke it out til the cows come home. But in the end, we’re all after the same goals: a good, strong nation; good, strong children.
If I feel my birth experience was great as a planned C-section and you would have only had one as a last resort … great!
If I rarely wore my baby and still think she’s perfect and you wore yours all the time and you think she’s perfect … great!
If I am totally OK with using disposable diapers and you are totally OK using cloth … great!
If I feel my child is social and happy because she’s in daycare and you think your child is social and happy because she stays home … great!
And if I feel my child sleeps best in her crib and you think your child sleeps best in your room … great!
In the end, none of these things matter. Our kids will both turn five. They will go to kindergarten and learn to read and write and do arithmetic. They might learn at different speeds, master different skills, and appreciate different sports and activities. But they’ll swing on the same swings, eat the same popcorn at snack time and run barefoot through the same sprinkler. They’ll still be five.
Ultimately, what matters most is that they know they are loved, cared for and adored. Because really, what more could a mother ask for?
It makes me sad that there is so much public mom-bashing in the media. Each mom knows her child best, and what worked for Kid #1 might not work for Kid #2 — so we shouldn’t judge!
[For example, I don't know that I will breastfeed my second child as I did Maya. Once I went back to work, pumping was so difficult and my supply issues drove me insane. It was a draining, painful and psychologically-challenging nine month experience. Yes, I'm glad I did it ... but it was single-handedly the hardest thing I've ever done. While I probably will when the time comes, I honestly can't say now that I'd do it again].
Point being, I won’t judge another mother for her decisions because I realize that decisions can change. Motherhood is an evolution. For as intuitive as some aspects of it can be, babies don’t come with a manual and you’re not born knowing everything. Rules change. Schools of thought change.
Hell, my siblings and I all slept on our bellies as babies and ate solids wayyyyy younger than kids do today … and I think we turned out fine. We weren’t allergic to dairy and soy and peanuts and who knows what else. We were vaccinated on schedule and autism was not prevalent. I’m not saying what my mom did was perfect or “right” (that’s subjective depending on your perspective); just making the case that things change and we need to be open-minded about motherhood.
Instead of judging one another, we need to support one another — so long as the safety and well-being of our children is our top concern.
How about you? Have you felt judged for your decisions as a mother? Or, as someone who doesn’t want children — have you felt judged for that?
PS–Vacation recap coming this weekend