Mommy Wars

July 20th, 2010

By Guest Blogger Shannon Henrici

mommy wars

I was reading another woman’s blog the other day and I was struck by the negative comments that flooded her blog site. I couldn’t believe all the passed judgments, and the harsh words. But then, I began to think of all of the times I have quietly passed judgment on other moms. I was a little ashamed of myself and thought, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

I thought of the old childhood saying, “When you point your finger at someone, three are pointing back at you.” I know that I am not perfect. I have to remember that other moms are not perfect. We are all just learning as we go. How many times have you heard judgmental words from another mother, “Can you believe she put him in daycare 6 weeks after she gave birth?”  Or  “My child would never act like THAT!”  Besides, by which standards are we comparing other people?  Our standards?  Society’s standards?  Which child is perfect?  Which mother is perfect?

And there are so many topics that divide women today; working vs. staying at home, to vaccinate vs. to not, breastfeeding vs. formula, and list goes on. I find more than ever, instead of coming together to support one another, we are seeing quite a bit of these “Mommy Wars.”

In the few years I have been a mom, I have been caught in some of these debates or overheard them.  The working mom complains about not having enough time to do anything, nor enough time to herself.  Often commenting that the stay-at-home moms have it made, that they don’t have to do anything all day.  While the stay-at-home mom is defending her right to stay home, while quietly feeling guilty for not helping the family financially.

Many stay-at-home moms face the fear of not fitting in with their working mom friends and vice-versa. Do you find that if you are a stay-at-home mom, you don’t speak to your working friends as often? Sometimes, these different life choices can tear a friendship apart.  It can be a heavy burden for the stay-at-home mom. Often she feels this guilt for not helping out financially, but then resentful when she sees her working friends “doing more” because of their second income, thus allowing them luxuries that single income households do not have.   While the working mom also feels guilty for spending too much time at work and not enough time with their children.

working mom vs stay at home mom

The sad part is that these groups divide, instead of support each other.  Stay-at-home moms try to defend themselves by saying things like  “I would never put MY child in daycare.  All they do is get sick!”  By alienating the working mom, they are put on the defense about their choices.  I have been on both sides of this debate. Each side has its own pros and cons. And it’s not a black or white concept.

I wonder sometimes, why can’t we just respect the other person’s decisions?

I joined the La Leche group for my area.  I was so excited about being able to breastfeed my first child.  In order to prepare, I did everything I could to make sure I was ready.  I took classes, read books, and joined the support groups.  After my first week, I couldn’t produce milk for my child.  It was a hard decision, but I needed to make the right one for my situation.  Breastfeeding moms in some areas have formed an almost cult like following, whereby you feel completely excluded if you opt out.  I have even experienced many mothers who believed they knew more than the medical professionals.  I am not sure that a zealot of any kind is a good representation for any group.  I think personal decisions about how to care for your own child are just that… PERSONAL.

Even in the Working Mom networks, that are supposed to be there to help find support from other mothers, this kind of divisibility and cattiness still happens. Often these “business meetings” can turn into a bitch session about husbands, other mothers, and even their children.  It is almost like being back in high school, but the standards in which you are judged have changed.  I once read an article that went out to the working community calling another mother a “Bitch!”  Really? What kind of role model is that mother?

judgmental women

Why do we mothers feel so compelled to judge one other?  Some say that we judge so harshly out of concern for our own shortcomings. Some say we judge out of jealousy. And some say that women are just judgmental.  I have no idea why we do it, but I do think that we need to stop.

I have made a decision and I hope you will too. I want to replace my judgmental thoughts with supportive thoughts. I want to change how I respond to criticisms from other women and moms. We all need to stop and ask ourselves– who are we actually judging?  Many times the answer can be found within. Before you start judging, remember one thing – You don’t know what it is like to walk in another woman’s shoes.  Her child might have a disorder, autism, or many other difficulties.  Her husband may be having an affair. She may be in heavy financial debt. So next time that screaming child in the grocery store starts to annoy you, stop, think about how you would feel, and then smile compassionately at that mother.  A smile and a kind word can help more than you know.  We have all either been there or will be there at one time in our lives. You will be glad to get that kind smile too.  Being a mother is one of the toughest jobs. Let’s support each other.  Make peace, not war.

make peace not war

Shannon

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By Shannon Henrici of My Baby Clothes Boutique.

What do you think ladies? Have you ever been guilty of judging another woman or mom? Are you guilty of being caught in these Mommy Wars? What have you learned from the whole thing? We’d love to hear your thoughts about moms being unsupportive of other moms.

xoxEDxox

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16 Responses to “Mommy Wars”

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  6. KBERLEY says:

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  7. CandaceNo Gravatar says:

    Such truth! Women have amazing traits that enable us to be loving, giving, caring and compassionate beings yet we allow our own insecurities about our lives or our choices overshadow these great traits. I also wrote about this very thing after a discussion with a new friend.
    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    http://candace-mixedupmom.blogspot.com/2010/05/opening-our-reality.html

    -Candace

  8. MaryAnn Kearns says:

    Thank you …….what a great post….my number one pet peeve…..judgemental moms….
    I too, think this is probably the number one problem among women, especially moms…….
    it prevents any real friendships and creates a vicious cycle that sadly teaches our children to do the same….
    I spend a lot of time around sports fields and it is even worse there. I wish more people would take your approach.

  9. WOW! Thanks for all the great responses! It is definitely a hot topic. I think we all experience this and it isn’t just with mommies groups. It all reminds me of high school :)

    I am so glad you guys liked the post. I hope it helps ease some of those conflicts we all face at one time or another!

    PEACE and LOVE to you all!!

  10. ZippyChix4No Gravatar says:

    Interesting topic. I have always had a hard time with those that have no children judging those that do……raising children appears much easier at a distance than it actually is close up:) The whole debate between working and stay at home moms is just baffling to me…….I think that everyone makes their own choice that fits their own needs as a family as well as an individual. I am a working mom who has the utmost respect for the stay at home mom, I find them to be the most amazing and selfless people. I will flat out admit that when my kids were little, that I could not wait to get to work to get a little rest…..yep, I said it. It was an actual break to go to work and have a coffee, work all morning and then actually get to SIT down and eat lunch. Stay at home moms deserve an enormous salary for their constant dedication to the job…..it is 24/7 and probably one of the most difficult jobs around! Thanks for the interesting topic.

  11. JennNo Gravatar says:

    I had a women who isn’t even a mother say to me “I would never dump my child off at a day care” as I was preparing to return to work. So, I think this starts before women even become mom’s! Regardless, she really hurt me, but looking back on that comment now, it was probably just a jealousy issue on her part anyhow.

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  13. LGNo Gravatar says:

    Oh there is such a thing as mommy wars. it’s alive and well and thriving all around the world.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s about jealousy and envy and putting someone else down to make yourself feel better. If you do this, GO INTO THERAPY!

  15. PaulaNo Gravatar says:

    Great post! I think we have ALL been guilty at one time or another of judging another mother or human being. I think it’s normal. And the SAHM (stay at home mother) vs working mom debate will go on forever. I think everyone has to do what makes them happy, and not care what others think. I know that’s easier said than done, but jealousy is a horrible character trait to have which leads to mommy wars and much internal unhappiness.
    Thank you. I will try and be more compassionate after reading this.
    Paula.

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