This post is for my mama friends, to bear witness to a phenomenon I’ve observed in the mothering world. (Which is different than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, coming soon to Universal Studies in Orlando, FL!) I have found that along with the mind boggling ability to produce milk from our bubbies and wrap up a tiny human like a burrito, mothers also acquire the less attractive ability to hurt each other as a means to feel better about their own choices. Know what I mean? Let me rep an example.
Two friends are hanging out with their little ones. One family has decided to allow their child to cry it out and the other rocks their child to sleep. Mama #1 puts her child down for a nap, and the child begins to cry. The mother’s normal procedure is to let her child cry until she falls asleep. The other mother is appalled. “Do you hear her?”…a little later… “She’s still crying.”… “That poor baby!”
Switch the scenario up. Mama #2 needs to put her child to sleep. It involves a time consuming ritual of rocking, bouncing, white noise, and a careful transfer to the bed, which sometimes doesn’t go smoothly, causing the process to begin again. It takes about 4o minutes before the child is down. Mama #2 joins her friend, who is annoyed. “Do you have to do that every day?! Man, your kid is high maintenance!”
Both mothers left hurt and defensive. And you know the drive home was spent working themselves into a tizzy, silently defending their parenting and creating a critique of their friend, which attacked not only their parenting but also their marriage, humanity, and salvation. Oh, you’ve been there too?
The point of this post is not for me to go into a diatribe about which parenting style I think is better and why. In fact, I’d rather leave you guessing which mother I relate to more. The point is to shine a light on both of the mothers’ reactions in each scenario, to show how we hurt each other.
This can be played out in a hundred scenarios: One family chooses a home birth and another wants to have the baby in the hospital (enter hurtful comments here), one family does spankings and another uses time outs (enter hurtful comments here), or one family vaccinates and another does not (enter hurtful comments here). The choices we have to make from inception are a’plenty: Am I going to get an epidural or go natural? Should I get a baby Bjorn or a Moby? Do I breast feed or use formula? Should I use disposable diapers or cloth? And so on and so on and so on. For the next 18 plus years, there will be a kajillion decisions.
And so we mothers find ourselves with a strange, new defense mechanism. It is a powerful, rabid, werewolf of a thing that judges mothers who choose differently. It is as if others’ choices threaten my standing as Mom of the Year. Can you relate?
But! We don’t have to be this way. Though we may choose different parenting techniques, we can also choose how to seek to understand one another rather than judge. These types of friendships create growth and leave room for us to change our minds.
I recently had a friend come visit me with her son. We have chosen to parent differently when it comes to some things and yet, are very similar in many other things. Over the course of the weekend we had some amazing, judgement free conversations. Lots of talks started with, “Now, tell me how you guys do “x, y and z”? or “What are your thoughts on “blank”? Great questions started sprouting like: How does my past and my childhood relate to my parenting decisions?What ways am I parenting out of my own need, rather than what my child needs? Is this working? Who do I know that I want to emulate in the raising of my children? It was such a fruitful time, something that we all need in our friendships with other moms.
Good stuff. Let’s all try be this way in our friendships, deal? Let’s think before we say something hurtful and apologize if we do. Let’s leave enough room to grow and ask good questions of ourselves and others. Oh and if someone hasn’t told you lately, you’re a really good mom. We need to say that to each other more often.
Hope you have a good weekend. Thanks for reading.