“Mommy Wars”?

22 06 2011

Most little girls dream one day of when they will become mothers. We get together with some of our other friends and play with dolls or play house. Then we grow up, and start having to face the realities and intricacies of what it means to become a responsible woman and mother.

Then, we sometimes witness many camps divide.

Let’s look at me, for example, for just a moment. I’m a loner. I keep to myself. As a child and teen I had my moments of being a dork as well as my moments of being popular. But, I got married and started a family young. I made that my life. Other friends went to college. Some stuck to the work force. Some decided to spend their 20’s partying. Different strokes. But, since I’ve been keeping so much to myself, I’ve more or less sheltered myself from the outside world in the best possible sense. I’ve been innocently unaware of something which is apparently pretty widespread– the concept of “mommy wars”.

Who knew that grown women would have pissing matches to compare one another against all mommies, in an effort to see who the best Mommy is? What kind of catty nonsense is that? Do you think Dads do that? (God, I hope not.)

This was lost on me, but then again, I’ve never been in a Mean Girls clique, or been fond of keeping a brood of female friends. I think part of what makes me not fit in anywhere and why I’m “so different’ from other females is I don’t feel the need to lean on other women for support or to feel good/better about me. I am a woman and a mother, with or without their validation.

I only recently found out about this Mommy Wars idea accidentally, through finding my way to my best birth. It was through that channel that I went down the rabbit hole into the internet cesspool and discovered that birth was measured, being “crunchy” was measured (a new term to me, as well), etc.

Then I discovered that some of the biggest people to bitch about Mommy Wars are perpetrators/instigators themselves. They talk incessantly of how unfair it is to be compared, all the while laughing at and ridiculing others for their choices. Go figure. Now I’ve even seen it in the realm of internet bullying. I told some friends recently that my high school experience had more maturity, and I wasn’t lying. What I left out is that it had more class, too.

The source of it all is insecurity. Even other women who do not knowingly partake in Mommy Wars have felt challenged by others who merely mention ways they are doing good for their families or themselves (like in birth). I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I promise you that if I am talking about how I’m doing and how great it is, it is not to make you feel bad about your own life.  Likewise, when I share the down moments in life, I hope it doesn’t make you feel superior. Make choices that make you honestly proud and then others won’t be able to shake your faith in yourself!

I never feel insecure about how “crunchy” or “uncrunchy” I am, because I never made anyone feel bad about it on purpose, and I never felt anyone had done this to me, either. I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve never become an active member of a playdate group? So yeah, I cloth diaper when I can. I give drug free, unassisted birth and advocate for going all natural. I also eat potato chips with my kids while they watch Spongebob. STFW? And you know, this is normal to me. I never stopped to question if this was normal to others “like me”, or if that even mattered. Which it doesn’t.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in a contest and I’m not interested in a comparison. I’m only interested in doing the best I can for my family. I want me, you, and everyone to live life healthy and happy. That’s all I ever wanted, and even if the Mommy Grade you gave me in this Mommy War was an A+, I’d tell you to stick it up your ass look in the mirror before judging others. I give most people the benefit of the doubt that they are doing what they can for their families. Do yourself and everybody else a favor– do your best, let yourself off the hook, and then let everyone else off, too. (This is that forgiveness I keep talking about in the book!)

I’ll make every woman a deal– I won’t base my self worth as a mother around what I think you think of me if you do the same.

If we could do that for each other, we could be like we were when we were kids again, innocently playing dolls, being friends.


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16 responses

22 06 2011
Wendy B

Although I agree with your attitude, a little healthy competition never hurts; but I guess you’re not really writing about healthy competition. As far as not needing to lean on other women for support: you’ve got a good husband. For you, this may be enough. I think this is how it ‘should’ be! But not all of us had that.

22 06 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

Wendy– you know, I improve as a person with a little help from friends. There have been moments in my life where someone has said something to me and I (at the time) did not appreciate it at all. But then it sunk in. And, I learned and grew and changed from it. I think that’s healthy. And you’re right– I have a good husband. There are other people who maybe don’t, or have more needs than I do, and if I were in their shoes I could feel the need for help or support or someone to lean on. I hope that whomever we all choose for that support system, that it’s not based on anything other than mutual love or respect. If it’s based off of pain or harsh judgment– well, I don’t sympathize anymore with the need to belong. You know?

23 06 2011
Fatkini Riot

I’ve never understood why so many women spend their lives judging and fighting with one another. It doesn’t make sense. If we were all meant to be the same, evolution would have seen to that.

23 06 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

Looking for drama or affirmation, or both. I guess they can’t get that watching The Real Housewives… ?! People gotta start loving themselves. Period. If they don’t, they turn to others for approval, and part of that involves ganging up to tear OTHERS down. We still don’t gain self-love that way. Just temporary gratification.

I had periods of being bullied. I will never bully someone else. When some of these clowns act like they are so oppressed and cry “bully”, I laugh with scorn. If they knew what a bully was or had ever truly been bullied, they would vow to never treat another human being that way again. And I will never embrace a community of women who direct their rage at people they don’t even attempt to understand or care for. I don’t need to belong THAT badly.

So obviously, my tone throughout this is one that encourages independence. We can’t expect to seek ourselves in other people. Other people are just stepping stones at best. You’ve got to rely on yourself to find joy and love and peace. We have the power inside of us, if we would honor it and get real.

23 06 2011
Angie

Amen. I’m not a mom. So while my worth as a “mom” isn’t called into question, my worth as a “woman” seems to be quite often online. I’m not allowed into a slew of communities that I feel could benefit me, my business and my blog because I don’t fit into that category. It’s horribly frustrating, especially considering these groups aren’t centered around parenting. They are focused on home business and blogging. Yet, for some reason, I apparently have nothing to offer (or gain) because I don’t have “mom” status.

I would love to see that wall tore down, also. Your worth as a woman is not determined by the number of children you have. As you stated above however, whenever I call for a stop to that discrimination it quickly turns into discrimination against the original perpetrator. The bashing only makes that rift larger. It doesn’t bring the community together, which is the end goal I have in mind. So, I go about my own business. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” For me that means no stereotypes, no categories and no discrimination. Man, woman, mom, dad, it doesn’t matter to me. We are all here to make a living and spread our voices.

23 06 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

Angie, I agree. I am sorry for your negative experiences. It’d be great if we as human beings would all strive to find that common ground.

23 06 2011
Dev

I love this post. I am older, so back when I was rearing my daughter ‘Mommy Wars’ were not as prevalent. I was and still am a loner and did not get involved with all that competitiive bull. It was there, just not as much as it is now. Around where I live, before the child is even born they are investigating schools and planning the childs life for them until they graduate from college. I don’t know…I think it is terrible. But, I normally stray away from anything mainstream. I did cloth diapers and ‘rubber pants’, breast feeding, etc. We never could afford the designer jeans…la tee da. My kid survived. She was happy. We camped for vacations. It was wonderful.

On the other subject, I went years without women friends. I was scared to connect. But, now that I am older and my daughter has moved on…I find myself trying to find more women to relate to…because I cannot relate to my hubby of 32 years!!! I have changed my ideas on having women friends…the trick is finding people who are similar to me…who are willing to be real and accept me with all my faults and weirdness…because I AM WEIRD!! Not in a ‘bad’ way. But everything I have been through has made me a very different kind of person.

So, stay true to yourself! Thanks for listening to me ramble!!!!!!

23 06 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

Dev, you sound a lot like me! I appreciate your perspective. Definitely– stay true to yourself!

23 06 2011
Nico

Mommy Wars…most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of…you hit the nail on the head…”INSECURE” witches…(sorry don’t mean to judge). Who needs them anyway. And by the way, what the heck is ‘crunchy’…I guess I must lead a sheltered life!!

23 06 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

Judge away! If people are being heartless, that’s about as good a time as any to judge. I think what sucks more is pre-judging, which is usually the fault of whoever draws first blood.

“Crunchy” is apparently what people call themselves who lead a healthy lifestyle? I think it’s a granola reference or something. So people who are kind of alternative and really into the environment tend to be “crunchy”. I hate that word. It’s so stupid.

27 06 2011
Michelle

I think that everybody judges others and I actually think that this is OK – Normal human behavior actually! You must accept this if you share your parenting style (or anything) publicly over the internet. What is am opposed to is that judgement resulting in bullying, threatening and violence. I am a big fan of not saying anything if I have nothing nice or constructive to say. As we are all different we naturally fall into different groups as we grow and evolve – finding where you fit is, again in my opinion, a normal part of our social lives.

I am not a mother yet but am already aware (thanks to the wonders of the internet) of the type of mothers and families I will have the most in common with, I have also realised that these are not the type of people I know in my everyday life. I will be raising my children in a few ways that I was not raised and for this I will need support. Like you I have struggled with women friends and sadly fell into the trap of competitive unsupportive relationships. If these “mommy wars” (I am in the UK and never heard this term so maybe this is more of a US thing?) have taught me anything it is the importance of working on myself and the quality of my relationships before I have children because great mummy friends or “group mummy peace” are definitely priceless, much needed in new motherhood and without guidance hard to find.

27 06 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

Michelle, everyone judges. I am no exception. Judgment helps us make smarter choices, helps protect us. I am one of the most judgmental people (read: opinionated) around. The problem lies in judgment without justification, if that makes sense. No attempt to understand where our fellow human beings are coming from is like a disease out there. Before we leap to rash conclusions about others based one a line of text here or there, we ought to calm down and consider what makes them tick. Compassion to one another should be the first goal. If others have no redeeming qualities, then it would make sense to be brutally honest about that– and not necessarily in a covert way, like to sabotage them, or talk behind backs. Just be upfront and noble! For me, I am not the one to draw first blood. I will give people the benefit of the doubt until they are showing me they cannot reciprocate.

Secondly, it’s what we DO with that judgment that matters more. When you see or hear something you don’t agree with, you have choices. You can talk it out with the person in an attempt to understand them. You can talk it out civilly with someone you are close to, say a husband or best friend, someone you tell everything to. Or, you can get together with a group of people with the sole purpose of bullying or belittling said person just for shits and giggles, with no intention of ever fully comprehending that person for who they are. This is not a healthy part of growing and evolving, which I am all for. These are schoolyard antics, the likes of which I thought most of us were happy to leave behind.

Michelle, while it is perhaps a US thing, I have heard of people participating in these Mommy Wars via the internet the world over, including the UK. In fact, some of the biggest instigators come from overseas. 🙂

I thought I had found a group and a friend recently only to discover that she was happier to trade me for people who were more rough around the edges than me, knowing that these individuals had been unkind to me in perceived “Mommy Wars” of sorts. This pretty much confirmed for me that I will indeed NOT find peace any time soon with a group of women, nor should I seek it. There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. Even if you think you’ve found a community and a friend, even if they seem sweet and gentle, do not think they may not sell you up the river to be part of a “cool” group in a MW. Do not think they do not talk about you behind your back. I don’t trust many people and this is precisely why.

I encourage all strong and healthy women to seek independence, which most definitely means they have to love themselves to the extent that groups are no longer needed (maybe just a perk, if anything, but not necessary).

4 07 2011
Michelle

I am sorry you’ve had such negative experiences, whilst it is true that some people are not nice (or even down right horrible!), there are many more that are. I read the other day that groups (small or large) of females produce oxytocin whilst in each others’ company, so I could see that conversely a group of women could generate adrenalin and anxiety – I guess like most things the ‘devil’ is in the details.

Do I think that people I am aquatinted with talk about me when I am not present? Yes, of course they do, but do I even care or feel like this is a big problem that would lead me to avoiding all other groups of women or mothers forever? NO.

I didn’t always feel this way, but as I have grown over the years I have realised that the only judgements that truly matter to me are the ones I have of myself – this really helped to see other people’s opinions as very insignificant by comparison. I guess I come from the school that “no man is an island” and my large family has proved to me that it truly does “takes a village to raise a child”.

5 07 2011
♥♂►The Perfect Birth◄♀♥

I’m not really encouraging avoidance or isolation so much as I am encouraging independence and self-reliance.

Guess it can be one of those things where you have to have “been there” to get it?

Of course the only judgments that matter are how you view yourself. On one level, that is. There is another side to that coin, that includes outside influence clouding your judgment– either for better or for worse. I encourage decreasing that outside influence while simultaneously taking under consideration every piece that enters your sphere. This helps you avoid living in delusion of being too great OR too sucky. I’m not going let any unnecessary negative energy in if I can help it, you know? That’s another concept that I think is critical to UC.

Yes, we probably come from very different schools of thought. 🙂 My thought is that unassisted childbirth requires a big appreciation for self-reliance and independence. Other than that, if outside forces choose to war with me unprovoked, it sucks. So, I’m not really sure why we are going to this other place… the conversation seems to have shifted to “not everyone is bad”, and of course I know that. But, we’re talking about Mommy Wars and their origins, and unassisted childbirth (which is a solitary act and of solitary spirit) so I am examining the bad and noting that it comes from seemingly benign places, and I choose not to keep playing with people. But, I don’t mind the solitude. I prefer it to the alternative. That’s kind of the nature of this kind of thinking, I think, though.

12 10 2011
Guilt is a Destroyer « theperfectbirth

[…] many of my readers are all too well-aware, there is a group of women out there who have many names who are at odds with natural birth in a serious and malicious way. I […]

12 10 2011
Guilt is a Destroyer, Part 2 « theperfectbirth

[…] I’m telling you, people, there’s an imbalance here, and it’s not healthy and it’s not right. It’s toxic– to your mind, probably your body, and your soul, and it’s affecting others. You want consideration for your feelings and it’s been given to a fault, but even through the pain, you need to offer your consideration to your fellow (wo)man, because we all have pain, and you aren’t the only one (and this includes infant loss). It does NOT have to be this way, so ugly and nasty and cruel. […]

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