Written By: Kathy Glow
I have been hearing about these “Mommy Wars” ever since I first became a mom on the last day of 2003. And although there’s some discrepancy in my research as to when the term was coined (I’m finding the late 1980’s as the earliest date), there’s no doubt that these wars have been raging since Biblical times.
Remember when King Solomon suggested cutting the baby in half to the women who were fighting over it as the only way to determine who its true mother was? (1 Kings 3: 16-28) And the better, or real mother, was determined to be the one to have NOT wanted the baby cut in half?
Ever since then, women have been embattled in a war to determine who is the best mother, the most fit mother, the mother who is right and good all the time. The talking points of this war are most often staying at home versus working outside the home (and the newly inaugurated working at home), and breast feeding versus bottle feeding.
However, as of late, the debate has raged over other parenting trends such as attachment parenting, co-sleeping, breast feeding toddlers, and even feeding your children regurgitated food, a la Alicia Silverstone.
It seems as if every move we make as moms is scrutinized, judged, analyzed, and critiqued under some kind of sick play-by-play microscope. None of us is immune – working mom, stay-at-home mom, crunchy mom, perfect mom, lazy mom – the list goes on and on and on.
So who is perpetuating these Mommy Wars? Is it us, the moms ourselves? Or is it the media who seizes every opportunity to jump on our fears and insecurities and capitalize on the issue du jour just to sell subscriptions?
Or is it both?
Bloggers all over the Web weighed in on Time Magazine’s cover story that screamed, “Are You Mom Enough?” showing the breast-feeding toddler mom. And now the discussion is centering around Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer and her decision to work through her maternity leave. It seems everyone has an opinion on these stories, and the opinions are not very positive.
And have we stopped to think about why this is?
Let me back up a bit. The term “Mommy Wars” was coined to:
“…describe the anger and tension that existed between working and stay-at-home moms. But in the twenty years since then, the phrase has been overused by an eager media that seems intent on pitting women against one another.” Salon Magazine, 3/15/2006
That quote seems to speak to my question above – who is perpetuating these so-called wars? Clearly, both the media and moms themselves are guilty of it. With the rise of social media and more moms taking to their computers whether as bloggers on their own personal sites or as writers on women’s sites such as HVFH, we need stuff to talk about. And we’re going to share our opinions.
Well, here is my opinion (because you knew this was headed there).
I think the only place that the Mommy Wars actually exist is inside ourselves.
There. I said it, and I truly believe it.
Never before have we had such an opportunity to compare ourselves to one another as we do in this age of Facebook, Pinterest, mom blogs, and women’s websites where it seems like anybody can and will talk about and post anything, whether it’s true or not.
How many of you have looked longingly on Pinterest at craft ideas and recipes and beautifully decorated homes and sighed, “I could never do that?”
How many of you have blocked another mom on Facebook because of her overly-zealous posts about her perfect family/husband/life/house/vacation? (My hand is raised on this one!)
And, although few will admit to this, how many of you have made a snarky or negative comment on a website under the cloak of anonymity just because you could? The Internet makes that pretty easy, doesn’t it?
I will be the first to admit that I regularly give myself a hard time for not being good enough. I’m not a good enough mom, a good enough wife, I’m sucky at crafts and cooking, and there are more than a few things I could learn from Sanae about beauty and fitness.
And I will also admit that I have been snarky and talked negatively about other moms and their choices and lifestyles.
But when I step back, I realize that those comments come out of my own insecurity and ignorance.
Back to the toddler nursing mother – I have said in the past that I would never nurse a toddler. I even rolled my eyes at friends who claimed of their toddlers that they just “couldn’t get them off the boob.” I loved nursing just as much as the next mom, but all of my sons were weaned by a year.
Except for this last one. I just can’t get him off the boob (see how that came back to bite me – figuratively speaking, of course). He won’t go to sleep without me, AND I love cuddling with him, knowing he’s my last. So here I am, nursing a child over the age of one with no plans in sight to stop.
Are you judging?
And about Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO who says she will work through her maternity leave? I say, Wow, good for her for trying. I could never do that, but I understand where she is coming from. You see, I once got my dream job, too, and found myself pregnant at the same time – my other dream job. I thought I could work from home, as I did while on bed rest with my twins. But once they were here, I knew I had to stay at home with them.
Maybe she will realize that, maybe she will be able to do both. But just because I didn’t have her same drive for career success or access to nannies or whatever it is that will keep her working, does that mean I get to judge her commitment to mothering without knowing her personally? I think not.
I think it’s an innate quality in women to resent other women for having that which we do not possess, whether it’s a physical, mental or emotional quality or whether it’s a lifestyle that we’ve not been able to obtain. That doesn’t make us bad, it just is what it is.
What makes us bad – so to speak – and what perpetuates these silly Mommy Wars, is how we first treat ourselves and then others because of that resentment.
So, I’m proposing an answer. A solution to these Mommy Wars. And here it is – are you ready? There are two steps:
1. Give ourselves some credit.
2. Realize that we are unique and wonderful, as is every other woman.
That’s it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? If we could just do those two things, no one would engage in the Mommy Wars ever again.
Yes, I can hear you all laughing because no, it’s not easy. If it were, these Mommy Wars never would have been started in the first place.
In a perfect world, that would be the answer. But we all know the mommy world in which we live is never perfect because of guilt. And our own guilt is what leads directly to resenting others.
“I got over trying to be the perfect mother. Sure there was some guilt. But as I always say, guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.” Erma Bombeck
We can never be the perfect mom, wife, woman because that just doesn’t exist. Something has to give, as it should. Maybe it should be the guilt over trying.
Something else that is currently making the media rounds is the response an eight-year-old girl gave to an assignment on writing about being a girl. Here’s what she said, and the translation:
“We have vaginas. We get jobs. We are creative. We have stuff that makes us pregnant. We have milk in our boobs. We are smart. We have power.”
Wow. An eight-year-old sums it up. We are women, and we are amazing. Each one of us. We have qualities that make us the same, which puts the differences in perspective.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all thought this simply? If we simply celebrated being women and stopped comparing each other? Then maybe, just maybe, in twenty years there wouldn’t be any Mommy Wars for this little girl to fight.
What’s your opinion on the Mommy Wars? Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a Mommy War? Do you think the solution is as simple as loving ourselves and one another?