Sometimes I wonder if we’ve missed out on a key aspect of motherhood.
You know, the part where we’re supposed to do it together?
For far too long, the words “mommy” and “wars” have perched contentedly side by side. Try as we might to peel and split these two incongruous words apart, our fingers are left bloodied and scraped by the effort. And it seems as if social media has only accentuated these differences. Scrolling through newsfeeds, it doesn’t take long to find parenting articles and opinion pieces written by women who are “doing motherhood wrong.” (Or at least, that’s what the sludge of negative comments seem to indicate???)
We bash new moms for using disposable diapers, telling them that they’re going to kill the environment. And then we turn around and give visible eye rolls to the pregnant woman who tells us she’s going to try cloth diapers. “Good luck,” we whisper sarcastically behind her back.
We’re horrified at mothers who give their babies formula and appalled at those who breastfeed children past a “sensible” age. We “tsk” and cover our children’s eyes when we see someone nursing without a cover, and then blast the next woman for covering up and portraying something natural as shameful. We judge each other’s bodies before, during, and after pregnancy: one person feels you’re too skinny and depriving your child of nutrients, another feels you’re overweight and are due to lose another ten pounds. Working mom, stay-at-home mom, or work from home mom, nothing we do is seemingly good enough.
So yeah, it seems as if we’ve messed up a bit on this thing called motherhood.
Not because of anything we ARE or AREN’T doing for our children. (We’ve all go that part covered, thank you very much!)
But because of what we AREN’T doing for ourselves.
We aren’t banding together as a global community of strong, beautiful women who stare down the everyday challenges of motherhood with courage and unity. We’re pretending we have it all together, when in reality, ALL of our sinks are filled with dishes that need scrubbing and laundry machines that need an extra spin.
Sure, we’re not all going to agree on everything.
We don’t have to.
We all have opinions. And that’s good. It makes motherhood so much more interesting and beautiful and creative when we get to see our thoughts and ideas mesh together and build each other up.
But often times, they don’t build each other up. We take refuge in the anonymity of the online world and we more than just share our opinions: we berate and belittle those who see things differently. We make it personal. Rather than support, we isolate. We forget that the words we type hold both the power to wound and to encourage; and we judge those who speak with honesty and vulnerability about difficult subjects.
I know that most of us aren’t guilty of this. But sometimes, our silence speaks just as loud. Sometimes, the positive voices are drowned out by the brashness of the berating. Sometimes, even if we disagree, all we need to say is: “I hear your struggle. I see your desire to be the absolute best parent that you can be, and I’m walking with you in that.”
Because the beauty of responsibility means that we get to choose for ourselves whether we let our toddlers drink cow’s milk or almond, whether we potty-train at the first birthday or the third, or whether we sleep-train our babies or not. This thing called motherhood will constantly shift and evolve underneath our scrambling feet, tossing new hurdles and questions, highs and lows. So let’s stop building ourselves up at the expense of others.
Let’s dare to be vulnerable.
Let’s dare to celebrate real triumphs together.
Let’s dare to disagree — but to disagree with compassion. To disagree with grace.
Let’s dare to seek honesty for the sake of those who come along after us.
Yes, we may choose to raise our children differently — but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still be in this TOGETHER.