Moms, please be kind to one another.
This post is more of a plea. Fellow moms, please be kind to one another.
I've been seeing a disturbing amount of negativity on social media when it comes to child birth and child rearing choices. It breaks my heart to see moms spewing judgmental diatribes at one another. These rants are sometimes directed at a person and other times they're passive aggressive generalizations. Sometimes they come from mom's whose last pregnancy was 25 years ago, and sometimes they come from new moms.
Here's the bottom line for me: Moms need support.
Being a mom is no easy task and being a new mom is terrifying. I think the availability of connections to other new moms because of social media is fantastic. It's great to have a question and be able to pose it to a network of moms to get different experiences and advice. I love that.
But I do not love the inflexibility and condescension that can accompany that. I think the biggest area I see this is "natural" vs. "unnatural" choices. I've seen women attack other women for their choices and I think that is incredibly sad. Especially since every family is different and parenting is going to look different for every family.
I should preface the following comments with the fact that I am a huge advocate for natural birth and child rearing. I think that in certain areas there is a serious lack of support for moms who want to do things naturally and I find that extremely disheartening. I want there to be support available for moms who want to have a natural birth, breastfeed, and other choices that are not always the most convenient choices. I am not saying that moms should selfishly choose convenience over what's best for their baby, but I am saying that choosing what might look to others like the "convenient choice" can be the right choice in many instances.
In a perfect world we'd all be perfect moms who were never selfish. We'd have a healthy problem-free pregnancy followed by a natural drug-free birth with no medical asstance (probably at home), we'd breastfeed for at least one year or more, we'd introduce only all natural organic baby foods that we made ourselves, we'd cloth diaper and avoid any products with chemicals like plastic bottles, diaper cream, and the list goes on. Of course in this perfect world our perfect babies would never ever get sick or cry. They'd sleep a full 12 hours at night and take multiple naps a day. Meanwhile, us moms would lose that baby weight right away and find time to exercise, cook, clean, eat healthy, fix our hair and makeup (and get dressed in a super cute outfit) every morning, have a thriving social life, be a perfect, selfless and loving wife, and read at least one book a week.
If you just read that paragraph and think all of that is possible...then you're probably not a mother.
All of these things are great things. All of these things are individual choices that moms should be supported in making so that they can be set up for success, not failure. But there's one big problem. Moms are not perfect. If we're all being honest with ourselves this perfect mother ideal we've set up as the standard for "doing it right" is impossible to reach.
Here's the reality of motherhood: Lots of worrying, crying, and exhaustion. There's good stuff too. I love being a mom. But being a mom, as wonderful as it can be, will never be an easy task. That in and of itself should trigger us to be compassionate towards other moms (and dads).
Babies aren't all good sleepers. Breastfeeding isn't always an option. Moms get depressed and need a break. Some moms raise babies all by themselves with no husband or family support whatsoever making the investment and work of cloth diapering nearly impossible. Moms do sometimes need things that are convenient so that they can get some sleep and regain their health and sanity (or because they're on their own) and that's okay. If trying to be perfect is hurting your health and causing you to sink into depression and despair...that's not the best for your baby.
I know first hand how painful it can be to feel like you're a failure because something you really wanted to do didn't work out the way you planned. I know what it feels like to feel judged by other women look at me and think that I just didn't try hard enough or that I was/am being selfish because of one choice or another. I've heard them talk negatively about other moms who made certain choices and even blame the problems they're having on the mother's personal failing. IT HAS GOT TO STOP. I've spent way to many hours beating myself up and I've spent a lot of time feeling SO guilty that I wasn't doing the best, healthiest thing for my baby---that he was going to somehow end up sick and stunted because of it. He's not. He's beautiful, healthy, and thriving.
There are a lot of ways to be a good mom and raise a healthy child. You have to do what's best for your family regardless of what anyone else (well intentioned or not) thinks about it. This is your family. You love your child and want what's best for them. Trust yourself. Know your limits. Do your best.
Can we support one another and have compassion even if we disagree? Can we make kindness the standard?