Pages

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Burning my mommy wars draft card

Why I will never win the mommy wars: reason 44, letting the cat lick my newborn.
I can sum up my opinion on the "mommy wars" in one short sentence:

Shut up.

Just shut. up. How's about I worry about my own breasts, sleeping arrangements, and food sourcing over here, and you worry about your stuff over there? My breasts thank you.

Because here's the thing. It's a lot like politics in this country.

We are privileged to live in a country where the debate about politics is centered on relatively small issues. "Oh! I don't think we should fund our billions of dollars of infrastructure that make our lives soft and easy like this. It should look like this and you are an a-hole if you vote for the guy who thinks it should look like this." Meanwhile, 2/3 of the world lives in poverty.

Your vote really matters when it happens under the watchful eye of a heavily armed guard and the very real threat of violence.

I'm not saying don't vote. Don't get me wrong here. I'm just saying that it's very easy to lose perspective when you live a comfortable life in a land of prosperity, and when you wind up devoting energy and time to dictating what is "right" or "wrong" to other parents raising apparently healthy children... there's been a disconnect.

I realize I'm at risk for sounding all preachy, sanctimonious and hypocritical. I'm willing to risk your disapproval and eye-rolling anyway. I understand that I don't understand what it's really like to live a life so different from my own, one where it would be a luxury to have any choices at all, let alone endless choices on a daily basis. But I'm trying hard to appreciate those choices.

There are kids without mothers or parents at all, as this blogger so eloquently reminded us last week, who want nothing more than a family. There are women and men living a life of pain without children of their own, through loss or infertility. There are families going through serious illness who have much more important things to worry about than how long I breastfed my children. It's hard to view the mommy wars as anything but petty and needlessly hurtful when viewed through a wider lens of context.

In truth, I used to seriously fret about how I was being perceived as a mother. I beat myself up regularly, sure I was damaging my kids in some way because nothing I did ever seemed to match up with any one method. Then I realized I was contributing to the problem by expressing the opinion that we should all be striving for some idealized version of what a mother is supposed to look like. I think the heart of the mommy wars so often lies with the insecurity that when someone else is doing it differently, we must be doing it wrong.

When it comes to the mommy wars, no one will ever be declared the winner. There aren't any spoils of war for the victor, though there's plenty of collateral damage in the form of a generation of insecure mothers crippled with self-consciousness and shame. So, seriously, TIME magazine, judgmental mothers (and especially judgmental non-parents), and sellers of damaging books: it's time for you to shut up now. I plead conscientious objector, and I encourage you to do the same.

In truth, there's room for all kinds of moms. So far, my children are kind and healthy. My family is happy. So we keep moving forward, with the knowledge that while there are no guarantees in life, we are beyond fortunate to be living this one.

P.S. Join this "Opt out of the mommy wars" Facebook group! Clearly other parents agree with me. Let's keep this groundswell of grass roots "leave me alone" activism going.

13 comments:

Jen said...

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. How's about we stop eyeballing each other with contempt and start offering encouragement and friendship? Should we not all be on Team Mom?

Blue Blithers said...

Rawk on Sarah!

Sarah Hunt said...

Exactly, Jen. It is hard enough when non-moms are piling on. When we turn on each other, it really feels lonely out here in mommyland.

Katie Ford Hall said...

YES! I was thinking that same thing last week -- that we react so strongly in part because of our own insecurities. If someone makes a different decision than me, that must mean I'm WRONG.

Katie

Melinda said...

Well um, yea...Now that you mention it.....this puts me squarely on the STFU bandwagon. Followed by the BYOB bandwagon.

Melinda said...

Damn you autocorrect- that should read MYOB!

Although you can bring your own booze if you want, it might make the mommy-wars more enjoyable.

Sarah Hunt said...

Hmm, I bet you could come up with a pretty intense drinking game based on the mommy wars. A shot every time someone says "attachment" or "future intelligence" and you'd be under the table in no time flat.

MizGreenJeans said...

I'm on both those bandwagons with Mel. Ridiculous we should judge each other, and try to pretend we know what goes on in someone else's life with their child.

Amy said...

I've always said there are as many ways to parent as there are people. I don't think ill of the Time cover mom for her choices, but the image that Time selected is meant to "stir the turd" as I love to say,and it is difficult not to find humor in it. It's a strong statement and I don't have many boundaries when it comes to humor. Time wants to sell magazines. The mom wants to reach other mothers like herself. But my question is about whether using her child's face for such a controversial topic is fair to him. Like it or not, people can be cruel and that should be taken into consideration when exposing a child who didn't have a say.

I do agree that we need to stop fearing and judging any choices that are different from our own. That concept goes far beyond just the Mommie Wars.

Amy said...

I've always said there are as many ways to parent as there are people. I don't think ill of the Time cover mom for her choices, but the image that Time selected is meant to "stir the turd" as I love to say,and it is difficult not to find humor in it. It's a strong statement and I don't have many boundaries when it comes to humor. Time wants to sell magazines. The mom wants to reach other mothers like herself. But my question is about whether using her child's face for such a controversial topic is fair to him. Like it or not, people can be cruel and that should be taken into consideration when exposing a child who didn't have a say.

I do agree that we need to stop fearing and judging any choices that are different from our own. That concept goes far beyond just the Mommie Wars.

Amy said...

Sorry about double post, Sarah. Using my phone. Please delete one and this.

Other Jen said...

Oddly enough, when I first saw the cover of Time, I didn't even notice the nursing child. What jumped out at me was the "Are you mom enough" statement. I initially thought "FU. I don't need to get in a pissing contest with this super mom!" It doesn't even matter to me what the point of the cover and article was about, it was the fact that Time was questioning my ability to mother. So, yes, I am onboard with STFU, MYOB (and BYOB in case you want to know)!!!!

Amy Rodgers said...

I'm a little late. But I say yes.

Post a Comment