I write and I have a blog. I follow many blogs covering a wide range of subject matter. Some of them are referred to as ‘mommy blogs.’ I’ll be turning 60 this August, so while I can still relate to the trials and tribulations of toddlerdom, the wake-up calls for mommy at 3 a.m. and remember well the difficulties in trying to squeeze 20 hours of tasks into the 18 in which I was semi-awake, it’s the more controversial issues confronting mothers today that interest and sometimes disturb me. Inevitably, I find myself heating up as the steam from the always simmering cauldron of the ‘Mommy Wars’ has been stirred yet again and is wafting my way.
To put it bluntly, I don’t believe mommy wars exist.
I find the term offensive and inflammatory. War? Are we weapon-wielding barbarians incapable of understanding another woman’s life choices? Even the term ‘mommy’ is used in a derogatory manner. ‘Mommy’ is what my children called me when they were young. To label the different choices women make regarding the care of their children as ‘mommy wars’ implies a level of immaturity and juvenility and immediately resonates an undertone of women being trite, petty and “childish”; all traits in need of good ‘mommy’ parenting skills. It is insulting in that it implies we are the children and lack the insight to see ourselves as more than ‘mommies’. God forbid we should acknowledge that we are adult women with full lives who happen to have children.
I understand first-hand the pros and cons to being a stay-at-home mom and those of being a working mom; I did both. I had a few friends that got to make an actual choice — stay at home or work. For many of us, it wasn’t a choice either way; it was a necessity. Our decisions as mothers were never influenced by which side of a supposed war we were choosing.
Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding — this is an issue in the so-called mommy wars? Why? Why would one woman care if another woman chose to bottle or breastfeed? There are myriad reasons why a mother makes the decisions she does for herself, her family and her baby and none of them are your business or mine.
So who really profits from the mommy wars? Corporations, of course. We as women are often insecure about our parenting skills, especially when that first precious little life-changer pops out. We have no instruction manuals. No summertime babysitting jobs or role-playing we did as children could have ever prepared us for the reality of parenthood and the daunting task of suddenly being responsible for another human being, a helpless one at that.
Corporations know this and prey on our guilt, fear and insecurity and our apparent desperate need to prove, not only to ourselves but specifically to other mothers, we are the ‘best’ mom and have made the ‘best’ choice. Well, guess what? You are and you did, for your specific reasons. End of story — at least it should be.
Does it surprise anyone that the company behind the infamous The Mother ‘Hood’ Video was created by Similac? A video literally depicting mother against mother on a playground (again, we are just children unable to communicate as adults) sneering snidely at one another, working mom’s with their formula and stay-at-home mom’s breastfeeding, about to engage in a brawl? If this does not perpetuate the mommy war myth and the obvious disdain we have for one another (or so the video would have us believe), I don’t know what does.
Generations of women, past and present, work tirelessly, some risking and losing their lives, advocating for women’s rights on real social issues like abortion, equal pay, sexual harassment and exploitation of women and children, to name a few.
When I compare these issues to ‘mommy wars,’ I am deeply saddened. Many women have literally bought into the deception and continue to drink the corporate ‘Kool-Aid’ to the point there is now a “Mommitment Pledge” wherein women actually pledge to treat each other decently. Are we really so incredibly ignorant, naïve and intolerant we have to sign a pledge to prove to ourselves that we are not the tantrum throwers and playground brawlers Similac depicts in their video?
Women are empowered by standing together. We may see our first woman president in 2016! We did not gain our freedom and subsequent empowerment by arguing over breast vs. bottle or stay at home vs. working outside the home; we gained it by respectfully supporting and validating the hard decisions women make in their lives. We continue to do it by embracing our differences and valuing our hard-won freedoms that allow us to make these decisions.
If another mom seems to be judging you, maybe she’s just had a horribly overwhelming day with a new baby and little sleep or endured a twenty minute toddler tantrum. We are empathetic and nurturing by nature. Say a few kind words to her and you might see an incredible wave of comfort and connection wash over her face. You might see her stiff, stress filled shoulders relax as she exhales a sigh of relief — you may even see a few tears fall in that moment she realizes you’re her comrade, not her enemy.
There are no ‘sides’ to choose being a mother, there are only hard days, less hard days and some great days in between. When you are having one — whichever one — share it with another mom, she will listen and honestly, I doubt one weapon will be wielded.
Maya Angelou said,
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
There are no mommy wars — we know better, let’s do better.