By Guest Blogger Shannon Henrici
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.
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?
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.
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.