Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mommy Wars

I find it amusing how some women seem to make mothering a sport. At a time when most women are at their most fragile, most unsure, least confident, and are most in need of feminine support (that sounds like it should come in a pink box from the drugstore), rather than rallying around our sisters, we'd rather make them wrong. Because, of course, that makes us more right.

It was only recently that I became edumacated on all the different wrong ways to raise a child. I've compiled a list of some of the major contentious issues on how to raise a baby. And of course, whichever of these you choose, you're dead wrong, according to someone.  Let's no particular order...

breast vs. formula
public breastfeeding
ear piercing
co-sleeping vs. crib
attachment vs. "you'll spoil the baby"
babywearing vs. stroller
when to start solids
homemade baby food vs. jarred baby food
organic vs. regular
cry it out vs. wait it out
TV: friend or foe?
and then there's all the debate about discipline methods - spanking, yelling, praising, ignoring.

To make it extra fun, there are the people who lie or exaggerate.  Does anyone actually care what other people do with their kids?  I surely couldn't care less if your child's crackers are organic, multi-grain, gluten-free, sweetened only with honey or not.  And I hope you don't really care about my kid's crackers. 

So here's my problem, though.  In the Mommy Wars, I am just not a contender.  In a world full of nuclear superpowers stirring shit up with each other, forming alliances and blocs, I suppose I'm like Switzerland.  I have a firm commitment to neutrality.  However, most of the coaltions in the Mommy Wars expect everyone to be a ideological fanatic.  You must be either a die-hard lactivist or a militant formula feeder, for example.  Which is hard for me to do.  I fed my firstborn both by breast and bottle, by necessity, but I also really enjoyed having the option of giving him either, and that's a super awesome metaphor for how I approach, well, pretty much everything.

It's probably part lack of confidence, part inability to make a decision, and part fear that I'm accidentally going to inflict serious and permanent emotional damage on my boys.  But I can almost always see everyone's side and rarely think anyone's wrong.  I don't engage in competitive mothering and I think it's hilarious that mothers who spout all the time about how their little ones NEVER watch TV are the first in line to buy tickets to Thomas or Yo Gabba Gabba or the Wiggles or whatever hallucinogenic kid's entertainer is in town. 

But even if I did feel firmer about my methods, I wouldn't think that feeling strongly about my choices would make other people's choices wrong.  Different kids need different approaches and whatever's right for you is  It might not be right for me, but that doesn't make it wrong.  I don't know what happened to moderation these days.  Grey is the new black, but we still don't see most things in shades of grey.  The uniforms of the Mommy Warriors only seem to come in black and white.  I never was too good at laundry...mine seems to have bled.

And I'm pretty ok with my firm middle ground leaves the door open for me to discover new and better things and to learn how to be a better mother every day.  But it comes with one pretty major corollary: I don't fit with any groups.  At least not very well.  As such, I don't really have a whole lot of mommy friends, and spending as much time as I do with the short ones, I could use some more adult interaction.  My poor husband must feel like I pounce on him at the end of each day, grilling him for details of his day just so I can feel like my brain hasn't completely atrophied.

I wonder if the members of the Swiss Federal Council have to deal with this too.  Like, do they really want allies, but the Americans and the Russians don't really like them that much because they are just so Swiss, and well...all that's left is Luxembourg?


  1. If only Switzerland weren't so far from Redwood I'd be your mommy friend! I have some strong feelings about a couple of those things, but that's for MY baby and doesn't mean it'll work for someone elses's baby. I know exactly where you're coming form and the competitive mothering drives me batty.

  2. Ha ha! Well...if you wanna know a secret...I've got dual citizenship and I'm pretty close to you. We should def. get together sometime.

  3. I love this post and I absolutely agree. I'm also kind of confused about where I "fit." I can be a weirdo outlier with you if you like :p. - Sultana