First of all, I was introduced to a love like no other that engulfs a mother when the new babe is put into her arms. I knew I would love my children, but I didn’t even imagine the extent and depth of that love. My love and appreciation for my own parents grew even deeper, as I became a parent myself. I am so thankful to be a Mama and I couldn’t be happier.
My husband and I were on the outskirts of the parenting club for 8 years of our marriage, since we weren’t able to conceive after losing our first daughter until our miracle pregnancy of our son, Nathaniel. We had a brief glimpse of this parenting club when we were foster parents for a year, but even then we were treated slightly differently.
I had all these fairytale-like notions that mothers were the most supportive group of people in the world. After all, mothers are the most loving, caring backbone of the family. Mothers have such a fierce love for their children, they willingly sacrifice anything and everything for the well-being of their offspring.
What I very quickly learned though, I am still somewhat hesitant to write about. I’m nervous to even put these thoughts into written words.
Mothers as a group can sometimes be very judgy and critical of each other. Ouch. That hurts to acknowledge. But the fact is, I’ve seen these Mommy opinion wars in so many variations, especially online.
Everyone is so passionate to share their opinion of how others should raise their own children. I’ve since come to the conclusion that no matter how hard you try, no matter what choices you make in raising your children, you will always be judged and criticized by someone.
I will share a few examples.
There are some really strong opinions about breastfeeding.
I had to stop breastfeeding my son when he was just a month and I’m usually hesitant to share this information because I just don’t want to get into a debate about it. In my case, I was losing a scary amount of weight because of the breastfeeding and even had to get TPN (a nutrition that you get intravenously) because I could not get enough nutrients no matter how much I ate. I was on TPN for months after I gave birth, just because I lost so much weight. I was literally skin and bones. I also developed a central line infection and had to be on IV antibiotics, so I had to stop breastfeeding because of that too. I know many mothers struggle so hard with breastfeeding, but breastfeeding bullies are so opinionated and passionate about their campaign for breastfeeding, that they think mothers should kill themselves before they stop breastfeeding. They probably don’t take into considerations that there are many factors that go into making a decision to formula feed your baby. Even though it was the right decision for me to stop breastfeeding my son, I was really wracked with guilt that I stopped and I definitely didn’t need to hear other people add to my own doubts with their strong opinions.
There are so many reasons why not everyone is able to breastfeed or doesn’t choose to breastfeed. Most of the time, it’s actually for the benefit of the baby. Either the child can’t digest breast milk, or the mother’s health or sanity is in danger. Maybe giving up breast feeding helps a mother to have one less area of stress in her life. Some people make breastfeeding their private campaign and blast it all over the place, making so many women feel guilty and inadequate.
Of course, I would have loved to breast feed my baby until he was at least a year old. The benefits of breastfeeding are incredible, and I totally get it. Plus, it’s free! Formula is expensive. If you are breastfeeding advocate, please don’t make assumptions why someone else isn’t doing it, especially when it’s someone you don’t even know very well.
That’s only scratching the surface though. Just on the subject of breastfeeding, there are different opinions on what is the right way to do it, and those who choose to formula feed have differing opinions on what type of formula you should use.
People who gave birth naturally, without any pain medication, judge those who used epidurals, and especially those who, GASP!, had a c-section. As if the way you gave birth has anything to do with what sort of mother you are. The women who choose to have epidurals may not understand why some women wouldn’t want to use some pain relief. From listening to many natural birth mommies, you would think that those who had c-section are wimps and can’t take a little pain. Guess what? Most c-sections are performed for a very important reason, for the health and safety of the child and the mother, not to avoid labor. I wish I could explain to you how hard it is to recover after a c-section; it is a surgery after all. There are so much more complications after c-sections than vaginal deliveries. There’s a reason why most hospitals policies have a shorter stay for a vaginal delivery than a c-section – because it takes longer to heal.
I had two c-sections and many other surgeries. I can tell you that you’ll be numb for years before that scar starts to get soft and feel normal again. I could care less about scars, but that’s just another fact of the matter. Yes, a natural delivery can be very difficult, painful and traumatizing, but a c-section isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.
No matter how you gave birth, it’s a beautiful, many times difficult, but all the while AMAZING experience. Let’s not cheapen that moment with useless comparisons.
- Working mothers criticize stay at home moms, thinking that they are lazy and just chill at home all day long, or are uneducated.
- Stay at home moms criticize working mothers, saying that they are selfish and think more about their own careers than about their own children. (I’ve been on both spectrums, so I know.)
- There’s differing opinions on when to start babies on solid foods, how to introduce it to them, and what is the proper food to feed them.
- Vaccinations are a huge beast in itself. I don’t even want to go there.
No matter what you do, you will be wrong in someone else’s eyes. If you are a new Mommy, don’t take to heart the opinions of others. No matter what choices you make, you will make someone unhappy. No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone.
I love social media and I think technology is great, but I think in a way, it makes motherhood even harder. All of a sudden we are bombarded by so much conflicting information. Back in the day of our parents and grandparents, you did what you thought was best and you were mainly cocooned in your own family life. Now, we see a lot more into the lives of other families, and it makes us question our own judgment.
I often wonder where all this criticism and judgment comes from. My personal opinion is that it stems from our own insecurities and fears. I will be the first to admit that there is so much I don’t know about raising children and the longer I am a mother, the more I realize how much I still have to learn. I think the fear of making a mistake gives us a false sense of wanting to lash out and defend our decisions. I think that mothers are so passionate in their opinions because they deeply love their children and try so hard to do the best they possibly can. Unfortunately, instead of being vulnerable with each other, we think it’s ok to snap at those with different opinions. Since we are so passionate about our own decisions, we are also very sensitive if someone tells us they think we are doing something wrong.
There is no one I love more than my child and I would make all sacrifices for his benefit. I know that other mothers are also so passionate about their children have the deepest devotion for their children. Women are usually by nature so warm, nurturing and tender, except when they interact with other mothers. Then the claws come out. Of course, I have seen the best examples of women who are supportive and encouraging to one another and I admire them even more than I did before. However, I am talking about the general crowd here. (If you’re part of any mommy groups on FB or read any Mommy posts online, you probably know exactly what I mean. Just scroll through the comments.)
Let’s be kind and caring to one another. We all love our children so much and I’m sure we don’t reach decisions lightly. We do our research, we weigh different options, we take into consideration what we hear from people we trust. When we reach decisions, they are with the best intentions for our families. Let’s not feel the need to insert our opinions very strongly everywhere, whether it’s asked or not. If someone truly wants to know what you think, they will ask you. Otherwise, you aren’t likely to change their mind anyway.
Most of my siblings have children of their own and we all have different parenting styles. That doesn’t mean I can’t respect the choices that they make and LOVE them unconditionally and choose not to butt my nose into their business.
Let’s try to see things from other mothers’ point of view. For example, messy house vs clean house mamas. Instead of looking down on one because her house isn’t up to your standards, let’s admire the things that the mother is choosing to do instead of clean, like spend time with their children and do lots of fun outings, crafts and playtime. Or taking some time for herself, which is extremely important. Instead of criticizing the mom who cleans her house, let’s admire the fact that she finds the time to make her surroundings tidy and instills the value of hard work and neatness into her children. Everybody is different, we all have different strengths and different needs. I’ll bet the mom who has a clean house does it for her own sanity more than she’s doing it to show off. Keeping a clean house with kids is very hard. No matter how much you clean, as soon as you let your kids loose, it will be a mess again. The moms that realize that sometimes you have to take a deep breath, look past the dishes, step over the toys and go outside to clear your head, shouldn’t be judged either. You see, we can do this in every situation. Even if you don’t agree with some mothers, realize that we are all different and that doesn’t make one worse than the other.
If you choose to buy organic groceries and cook from scratch, please don’t bash other mothers who have different priorities and make brownies from the box or get take out. The children have loving, caring parents in both cases, not based on what kind of groceries they buy. Please don’t feel the need to write comments like “you’re poisoning your children if you use this or that” or “Well, I wish I had so much money to waste on organic food.”
Let’s build each other up, not tear each other down. Let’s join forces, and be as caring to other mommies as we are to our own families. Let’s respect each other’s opinions and lovingly encourage and support one another.