Battling the Mommy Wars

About a year ago, I woke up to a beautiful fall morning and toted my kids to our favorite Baton Rouge outdoor play area, Leeward Park.  While snuggling my then five-month-old Ben, another mommy of a young baby approached me.  We began with small talk, but eventually our conversation moved to our birth stories.  She told me with much enthusiasm that she supported natural birth and labored med-free with both of her babies.  I told her my stories; that my first was a scheduled induction that ended in a C-section after nine hours of labor and that my second was a scheduled C-section.  We both told our stories fondly, reminiscing on some of our favorite moments in our lives.

mommywars1However, when I finished telling my birth stories, I was very quickly barraged with some very uncomfortable questions and statements: “Did you really believe your doctor when she said you needed a C-section?” “Surely you didn’t desire to have an induction or C-section, right?” “You really should fight next time for a better delivery.”  “You know you have a voice, right?”

Now, here me out.  I BELIEVE she was coming from a good place.  She desperately desired for me to have as incredible of a birth experience as she had.  But the problem was one simple fact: I adored my birth experiences.  Even though I had hoped that my labor would have ended in a vaginal delivery, I was happy with how things turned out.  After that conversation, however, I wondered if there was something wrong with the way that my children were brought into this world.  For a few hours, I wondered if I was a worse mother because of the fact that I didn’t desire or advocate for a natural, medicine-free labor and delivery.

Ladies, the mommy wars are fierce!!!  Some of you (lucky ones) may not be really aware of what the mommy wars are.  To put it simply, it’s the practice of making others feel inferior for their decisions in light of the decisions that you have made.  Part of why moms do it is to defend what they do.   It’s easy, after all, to feel threatened by other people’s choices, especially if those choices are in complete contrast with the decisions you have made.  Another reason is to attempt to “bring you to their side.”  With good intentions, these moms hope that by educating you more, you will see their way and eventually make the “correct” choices for your children.  Whatever the reason may be, the truth is that, no matter how you look at it, it is rooted in judgment.

mommywars1Some of the hot topic debated issues are:

  • natural vs. medicated labor and delivery
  • breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding
  • working or staying home
  • public school or private school (or homeschooling)

The list can go on and on, but these specific issues have generated a great deal of controversy among mothers.

Here’s the thing, ladies.  Motherhood is HARD.  We all love our sweet babies so much and desire the absolute best for them.  We come to the decisions we come to after prayer, conversations with our husbands, internal anguish, etc. We make our decisions hoping we will be the best possible mothers to our young children while fearing that we will be far from that.  Then, after we have made our decisions, things happen that make us have to choose otherwise.  Our labors don’t progress.  The baby won’t latch.  Formula is too expensive.  We can’t afford to stay home.  We miss work.  It goes on and on.  We all deserve to cut ourselves and each other a little slack.mommywars2

So, how can we remain passionate about our decisions while offering support to other moms with differing views? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Megan is a wife and stay-at-home-mommy to Matthew and Benjamin. A Navy brat, she spent her childhood moving and traveling throughout the country. Her family finally settled down in Louisiana, and she has called Baton Rouge her home since she became an LSU Tiger in the fall of 1998. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and her Master’s in Secondary Education, she and her husband, Kenny, were married in 2004. For nearly ten years, Megan taught literature on the middle and high school levels. She is passionate about reading and instilling the love of reading to children. After four years of struggling through infertility, they were ecstatic to enter the world of parenthood in 2010. A true lover of lunching with friends, pedicures, exercise, literature, and lattes, her latest interests include tractors, pirates, climbing, and superheroes.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Walk in someone else’s shoes before you judge!
    Heartbreaking to me that a mother would judge another for her choices in childbirth, feeding, etc…
    The mother advocating her opinions has obviously been through situations that helped her form such a strong opinion that she feels she must preach to the rest…or she is simply naive and feels superior out of sheer stupidity? Really doesn’t matter…If you have educated info for someone that has not already made their decisions…share to make aware and wish your best! If you feel you must advocate your opinions…then write a blog, share your knowledge…NEVER assume that your way is best and NEVER ask questions that are obviously non of your business. I have learned that others “best intentions” by no means make me a better mother. Instead I focus on possible mistakes and take away from the great mother my children no me to be! Being a mother is a gift – do the best you can, know that you will make mistakes, love your children w/ all you have and be a good example.

  2. I had my baby with no epidural after 38 hours of labor. It was hard. Honestly, I told my husband that I would never labor that long again without pain meds! Lol. I’m glad I got to experience a “natural birth” but who knows if I’ll go that route again? As far as breastfeeding… I hated it. I pump now and although it’s a pain to be hooked up to a pump, I enjoy being able to sleep more than two hours at a time and having other people feed her. As far as work goes, I work and honestly I feel like it will be a relief to get back in the work force even though I will miss my baby and worry about her while I’m gone. But… conversations with adults! Lol.

  3. I honestly think we (and I’m not just talking about moms here, but we as an entire society) need to do two things. First, we need to stop caring so much about what other people think. Why do we give family, friends, celebrities, perfect strangers and their opinions such a prominent place in our lives? While I’m sure they mean well, the fact is they don’t share my reality. They don’t have my kids, they aren’t married to my husband, they don’t have to fit my budget, etc. So why let their opinions matter so much?
    Secondly, on the flip side of that, we need to do a better job of censoring ourselves. Of thinking before we speak. Of getting in the habit of thinking “why am I saying this? Is it really going to be helpful? Is it any of my business?” We need to understand that our own experiences and opinions, while valuable to us, are not going to necessarily be the shining moment of epiphany to anyone else that they are to us. Just like we shouldn’t let others’ opinions be so important to us, we need to recognize that our opinions don’t need to be important to others for them to still have value and meaning in our own lives.
    Bottom line, make the choices that work best for you. Raise your kids how you see fit. Fill your life with what matters to you. If others don’t agree or like it, it’s ok. You are not accountable to them. If someone tells you about something that you would never in a million years try, just smile and listen. They just want to share, not be challenged or questioned. I think a lot of these social wars would quit if we all let up on our need to be right or heard all the time. (And yes, I totally realize that I am voicing my own opinion here and going against what I just said! Lol. I’m still learning….)

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