A LOOK AT WHAT MAKES MOTHERS JUDGE EACH OTHER’S PARENTING TYLE
When I was a little girl and people would ask me whom I wanted to be, I would often answer a mother (apart from the astronaut and model phases, of course). The feeling of wanting to be a mother to a child was apparent in me for as long as I can remember. I was always infatuated with the idea of raising another human being, of teaching him or her, protecting, loving and giving them my all. Moreover, I was always drawn to the mysterious “motherhood elite” or “mommy group” that in my imaginative mind shared their ups and downs with each other, protected one another and most of all, supported each other throughout their fascinating journey of motherhood.
On June 16, 2012 I was officially initiated into motherhood at the moment I gave birth to my darling son. I was excited about the arrival of the little man and I was looking forward to our new life together, thoroughly imagining every detail. I remember like it was yesterday how much I anticipated the long walks in the park, the playdates and the socialization with other new mothers. Meaning, not only did I want an invitation into motherhood, no, I wanted to be accepted into the “mommy sanctuary” and I really wanted to fit in.
This is where my expectations were shattered agains what is known as “Mommy Wars”.
One would be hard pressed to find another social group as critical and poisonous towards one another as mothers. The ones that are supposed to be nature’s nurturers and protectors are akin to snakes that are willing to belittle each other just to end up on top of the mythical pyramid of motherhood greatness. Let me explain to those of you who have no idea what I am talking about. You see, it appears that there are certain elements to motherhood that need to be strictly followed, should one want to be accepted. Motherhood, like fashion, lives through phases of actions that are deemed acceptable and “normal”. However, it seems like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Let us look more closely at the elements of motherhood that are to be followed, should a mom want to “fit in”.
Breastfeeding has been around for a long time, one would even say forever. However, the infatuation with breastfeeding has been an on and off affair. It was once considered normal to breastfeed until the child chose not to. Then it became a taboo activity and generally regarded as “uncool” as the new and liberating form of feeding by the name of formula was invented. Nowadays, most experts agree you should breastfeed approximately until a child is one year old. You shouldn’t breastfeed for longer, because then your child is scarred for life and not less, because, you guessed it, then your child will also be scarred for life. Should a mother choose or have to use formula, she is expected to explain to the “mommy group” why she feeds her child the chemical baby equivalent of cocaine, rather than the ambrosia from her breasts.
Does your 4 week old baby sleep through the night? No? Mommy mothers will argue you must be doing something wrong. You failed your child as a mother and now he will not sleep until college; even then you will have to travel to his dorm and rock him to sleep.
A mother, today, needs to have her baby sleep at least 12 hours with no wakings and there are a million of books out there that teach exactly how to make your baby sleep more than nature intended to. Should a mother admit that she co-sleeps, she will instantly be attacked by other well-intending mothers saying that she will suffocate her child, or, once again, that the child will now end up sleeping with her well into adulthood and beyond. Should a mother admit that the baby sleeps in his own room, she will also be attacked for damaging the baby gentle psyche and create a feeling of abandonment no amounts of love and support ever dissolve. One feeding per night is good say some, but a child should not eat at night, say others. Are you confused? so am I.
It is statistically impossible that all babies sleep through the night as well as their mothers claim they do. It just goes to show that the “Motherhood elite” lies their faces off in order to impress each other, while drinking the third cup of espresso. Or at least has a good amount of selective memory (which could also be a result of not getting enough sleep).
More than anybody else it is mothers believe they automatically hold medical degrees from the second they get pregnant; regardless if their education is interior designers or business managers. If the question of vaccination comes up, the group automatically devised into two sub groups that go at each other they are going to war; and you better be in the right group or be eaten alive! One group will scream their hearts out that vaccines are a plot of the government to for population control, basically, killing everyone in sight. The other group blames the unvaccinated children for spreading plagues and sickness among their vaccinated kids. There will, maybe, be a couple of mothers, whose thin voices will claim that every child is unique and that it makes sense to choose the approach that fits the individual family. But their opinions will soon be crushed by the heavyweights of medical wannabes. Moderation is not a factor in this discussion.
What? Your child ate ketchup???? You, once again, scarred him for life and destroyed his digestive system for generations to come. If he doesn’t die from the time that you gave him formula and fed him twice per night, he, most certainly, will die now or at least develop at serious disease. It is believed that children should only eat the food that parents grow and harvest themselves on organic soil with organic tools and breath filtered organic air. It is also preferred that the child himself will be organic and certified just be safe. A child should also eat from a spoon from the age of 6 months and not explore the world by touching their food, that’s just not polite. Everyone knows that food is not a toy! Should a mother decide not feed her child organic pureed broccoli and instead let her child feed himself making a huge mess she is a damaging influence not only to the child, but to the population as a whole, no arguing here.
the list goes on. Mothers will exclude others from their group due to them choosing alternative medicine over Tylenol, or using a stroller rather than a ergo. Or, in contrast using a baby sling rather than a $1000 stroller.
It took me some time to understand why we as mothers do this to one another. Now I think I finally get it. Each one of us is so insecure in our decisions that we must judge another just to feel like we are doing something right. The idea that we are now responsible for the life of a little human being that trusts us to make the BEST decisions for them makes us terrified to death of making even one wrong decision. By defending our choices and belittling the choices of others we create the illusion that we are always right and that we can do no harm. If only life was so simplistic.
I would like to end this piece by encouraging every mother out there to put an end to this war of competency. Instead of proving to the world (and most of all to yourself) that what you do is the best and the only correct way, listen to what others have to say and be humble to at least try and accept it as being OK. After all, only another mother knows how it feels to walk in your shoes and how scary it is to trip and fall.
Maria Petrova is the the owner of Maria P. Jewellery and and active member ot Toronto Mommies group. You can find Maria on her Facebook Page and her Website.