It happened when I least expected it. We were at a small indoor playground at the local mall we frequent. We had just finished lunch. I had groceries to grab. Atticus was due for a nap but he had been hankering for the playground, so there we were.
Sometimes, we women are our worst enemies.
A while ago, I was reading this forum thread a distraught woman had started, because she had been ostracised by the rest of the women in her mother’s group. Her apparent crime? Feeding her baby purees, because the rest of the mothers were avid believers of Baby-Led Weaning.
And I’m thinking, seriously? You’d shun another woman over mashed veggies?
Now, this post isn’t about bashing people who practise BLW. It just happens to be the research topic of choice lately, since I’m still in that stage of life with Arddun. But after reading about that poor woman and what she had to go through, I asked Tony if he thought that pockets of the online parenting community were – you know – a leeeetle too passionate. That this was yet another example of Parenting By Belief that we’ve encountered in the short 7 + 8 months we’ve known Arddun.
Tony’s usually my barometer for good sense. I am the soi-disant custodian of this family’s Absolute Highs and Super Lows. Tony centres me. He is the Master of the Calm and Common Sense. He removes the fluff and the tinsel. And he agreed with me. In fact, he went so far as to say that until we started reading up about parenting theories, he had never encountered so much zealotry online. (Zealotry: my description, not his.)
So you’ll understand why I think I’ve stumbled onto some kind of truth here. Parents are passionate. And some are zealots. Some are scary zealots. Some are so scary, they make the Mac vs PC vs Linux geek fights look like fat, lethargic dweebs swatting each other with warm lettuce leaves.
Because some parenting zealots are vicious. And unfortunately, it’s the women who mostly comment or blog about parenting theories. And pockets of them can be downright nasty.
Why do we DO that to each other? I’ve never been so simultaneously thrilled and bewildered in all my life, but the last thing any woman needs when seeking advice on raising a child is to be verbally slapped to the moon for not fully committing to the parenting theory of the age. And we get so darn SMUG. It’s not enough that the Smug Mother writes about how her parenting is awesome, but she has to go on about how other mothers who “do things by halves”, or who have blended seemingly diametrically opposing theories, are either “lazy” or “just don’t get it”.
You name any topic, and they’re there – sleep training, weaning, breastfeeding, potty-training, discipline… There are pockets of nasties. And if you’re on certain blogs or forums whose community is trying out the newest fandangled parenting method – while your parenting strategies are looking rather 1989 – then be prepared to find yourself scoffed at. Rudely. And accused of ruining your child’s life to a greater or lesser extent.
(BTW, why is it that the latest fandangled parenting method always professes to have a secret history dating back to Moses? I’m sorry. I’d REALLY like to look into the historical accuracy of some of these theories – and the particular peoples and cultures they were sampling. Because some of it sounds logical on the surface… until you start scratching around.)
Yes. I am on a rampage. Because motherhood is hard enough, without having your own team members call you a twit. Because we do ourselves a huge disservice in claiming to have all the answers. Because beating another woman up verbally just so your parenting theory sounds shinier (in your head) doesn’t make your parenting superior – it just makes you a bully. And we wonder why children bully one another.
The sisterhood still stands. The sisterhood should still stand. Whatever happened to the solidarity, and why are we making it a competition for some kind of Mommy Trophy that only exists in our heads? (The part not already taken up by next week’s household chores and work?) And don’t get me wrong – I struggle with this all the time. Some days, I’m the most chillaxed parent. Other days, I just want to get in some left-wing/right-wing forum and crow about how my middle-of-the-line Moderate Mommyhood is doing wonders for Arddun so far…I’m right, You’re both wrong, nyah nyah nyaaaaah.
Why do I feel the need to do that?
Because I’m sooooo insecure about my parenting skills.
So let’s try and ditch all that, shall we? And together, let’s form the Sisterhood of the Parenting Angst. Because if you’re the kind of mommy who changes her parenting theory every five seconds when her newborn is screaming blue murder… if you’re the kind of mommy who wants to be the Ultimate Homemaker one moment, then worries about her corporate career (or lack thereof) the next… if you’re the kind of mommy who claims you’ll never bribe your child, and then hands her your iPhone to suck on so she’ll finally shut up even though she was repeatedly told it’s off limits before…
… then you’re just like me. And I’m just like you. And if you’re in a parenting group or blog or community that makes you feel any lesser for the choices you’ve made for you and your child – part ways. Find other mothers. Because the world is a gloriously huge place, and we have freedoms. And the only mommy that matters to your child is you.
P.S.: I loooove my mother’s group. Have I mentioned this before? ;-)