Breast is best. Fed is best.
Cloth diaper. Disposable.
Baby wear. Baby leash.
Organic. Blue box Mac & Cheese.
There is truly nothing easy about parenting. No matter where you fall on any parenting-related issue, there are people there to tell you how wrong you are. Your spouse, your parents, your in-laws, your family, your friends, random strangers on the internet….all have opinions on HOW you should raise your child.
I’d love to say I haven’t engaged in what some people call the “mommy wars.” I’m sure I have. I’ve judged another mother when her child was buckled in a carseat differently than I would buckle my sons. I’ve felt good about myself when I see another mother whose child has a sugary soft drink when my kid prefers water. Do I openly call these people out or share my opinions? Heck no – but that has a lot more to do with my fear of confrontation than it does my acceptance of other people’s parenting styles.
So maybe I’m not on the front lines fighting the wars, but I’m certainly in the background, fighting them silently in my head. And I think it’s only because it makes me feel like a bit less of a disaster to think someone else is worse at parenting than me. (I know I’m not a horrible mom…but I also know there’s probably a lot I can do better.)
There are two things about the “mommy wars” that bug me:
- We don’t wage war on dads. If we see a dad out with his kids and they’re having candy and sugary drinks and jumping off tall ledges and throwing knives at each other, we think, “Good work dad! Let them be kids!” But God forbid a mom accepted or *gasp* encouraged that kind of rough, reckless, imaginative play. Dads don’t get shamed for buckling the carseat wrong. Or for gagging through the diaper change. We don’t expect them to be able to do it. We expect them to foul it up somehow. (In the spirit of full disclosure, my spouse is very actively involved in raising our boys and we are on the same page with almost everything regarding parenting. He knows how to buckle carseats, change cloth diapers, and is just as aware of the importance of good nutrition as I am…but no one expects him to be. It’s somehow my job.)
- The mom’s ability to decide is constantly in question. We expect these mothers to be ON all the time and ask them to justify their decisions.
*I’ve been asked why I cloth diaper. “Ew, isn’t it gross?” It’s not any more gross than disposables (which blowout a lot more) and saves us a ton of money (which is really the main reason). Plus, fluffy butts are cute.
*I’ve been asked when I’m going to stop nursing. “Once they have teeth they need *real* food.” Don’t know when we’ll stop – my best guess is when he and I decide we are done.
*I’ve been told that waiting until two to turn my kiddos forward facing is stupid. “We turned our kids around at one. They like to see!” “Their legs are too cramped.” “We rode in the front seat without even a seat belt and we turned out fine!” (this one is my favorite) Well do a quick Google search on carseat safety and you’ll see why I wait.
*I’ve been told I’m too strict with their diet and I should let them “be kids.” The thing is…you don’t know my kids. You don’t know that if I don’t limit their options, they will never touch a vegetable. Or that they might have special needs that require them to eat more protein. Or that they might have food allergies. So when I say my toddler can’t have a cupcake on an empty stomach, it’s not because I’m controlling or not letting him “enjoy childhood.” I have reasons.
The list can go on and on. There’s a difference between sharing information for a child’s safety – for example, I shared with a fairly new mom information about puffy coats in carseats, not to be holier-than-thou (in fact, I really agonized over saying anything at all), but because I was sure she just didn’t know – and giving unsolicited advice and opinions. I doubt that the overwhelming majority of parents make choices because they don’t care about their child’s safety.
It all boils down to this:
Is your kiddo fed? Good work.
Do they have clothes and shoes? Awesome.
Do you do your best when it comes to keeping them safe? High five.
Don’t let other people – who don’t know your kids and their specific needs – judge you, mama!
As much as I’d love to say, “Don’t let everyone else’s opinions get to you,” I know it’s so so hard sometimes! I take the littlest comments to heart. But I know, at the end of the day, my boys have a mama who loves them and does her best for them, and that’s all I can do in this day.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll eat the organic dinner and no one will complain and then they’ll all put their own dishes in the dishwasher. But for tonight, we’re doing the best we can.