The "Mommy Wars" is a ridiculous label. I try to ignore labels that start with "mommy." Inevitably, they are meant to be condescending and insulting. This opinion isn't the result of any scientific research or anything - it's just the conclusion that I have come to in my own, online life. Often times, when someone insults me online - they throw in "mommy" for good measure. It's weird.
Since I began writing about motherhood - I have been attacked plenty. I'm not complaining. I think anyone who puts words on the Internet should be ready to be attacked occasionally. We don't all agree on everything all the time - and I'm fine with that. I just think it's hilarious that every time a group of women disagree with each other, and those women happen to be mothers - it's coined a "mommy war."
As if every woman in the world that has grown a human has something in common. By that line of reasoning, we should all have something in common because we live and breathe. It doesn't work that way. Just because someone is a mother, doesn't mean she's going to be exempt from the judgement of other mothers - quite the contrary, actually.
I get paid to have an opinion about issues that mothers may be interested in. I guess that sort of puts me in the hot seat. I can't write a post about attachment parenting, Lenore Skenazy, or a celebrity mother without inserting an "angle." I guess my angle could be "to each her own" every, single, time - but that's just not how I think. I don't see anything wrong with women disagreeing about how to raise their children. I don't see anything wrong with women not being polite to each other all the time.
When the term first surfaced, it spoke to the demands of mothers in the workforce - especially those in demanding positions - who were forced to juggle work and home life. The term was first used in the 1980's in Child Magazine, to describe the tensions that existed between those mothers who went back to work and those who chose to stay at home. So yes, it was literally created by the media. Now it's a myth perpetuated by it - just thrown around flippantly whenever mothers debate about anything.
Do you know how customer service has evolved in this country to a state where, if someone isn't smiling at you and crawling up your ass at every interaction they aren't doing their job? I hate that. I actually love going to other countries, where businesses take siestas and it isn't "service with a smile" everywhere you go. This may be a weird parallel, but I think of today's "mommy wars" in the same light. I'm sick of women being expected to be congenial and agreeable all the time.
Yes, the point has been made that the "mommy wars" are anti-feminist. Maybe. Not just because of the notion that we get hammered for every parenting decision we make - a standard that is just not held up for fathers - but also because it somehow assumes that we have to walk around with a Stepford smile all day long to be considered women. We aren't super pleasant, pie-making, head-nodding, smile machines. We don't have to "tolerate" each other just so we aren't seen as un-feminine or not maternal. One of the things that I love about writing for this site is that there will be a woman skewering me in the comments section of one of my pieces and totally supporting me in another. That is great. Feminism does not equal agreeing with every woman you meet, at all times.
"Supporting all choices" isn't going to make the "mommy wars" go away. Just like I refuse to call the anti-choice movement, "pro-life," I guess I can try to help the cause by not referencing a "mommy war" every time a new parenting style surfaces that women don't agree on. That's a start. It will be hard though. I just wrote one of these stories yesterday. People read them. And no, I won't stop judging and commenting on parenting styles - because it's something we all do every day.
I'm currently eight months pregnant. I drink a cup of coffee every morning and have a half a glass of wine whenever I feel like it - usually once or twice a week. I have a two-year-old that still uses a pacifier to nap. As much as I would love it if he never watched TV - he does, with some regularity. He not only knows how to turn it on, he knows how to work the DVD player. It is a constant source of struggle in my house - and he is winning. My "no's" and time-out's seemingly mean nothing. We co-slept briefly because of problems with our heater and I breastfed him as long as I could - about seven months. I fear he's not socialized with other children enough because I couldn't afford daycare in New York and as a result he hasn't had any friends yet. I'm trying to fix that.
One of the main reasons I left New York was because I couldn't imagine eventually sending my child into the NY city subway station by himself. As you can imagine, I think Lenore Skenazy's unsupervised Central Park play dates are nuts. I think the principles of attachment parenting are lovely and that most people do actually practice them - but when the topic of breastfeeding children into elementary school age comes up I get a little uncomfortable. I try to buy organic when it matters and when I can afford it. I'm usually pretty overwhelmed and some days I stare at Pinterest for minutes on end - unable to believe that mothers exist that can actually make the time to do all of that crafty shit. I'm admittedly jealous of these mothers - and even though I am probably older than most of them, I never quite feel like a grown-up.
Okay. So there's some of my stuff. Since I make a living commenting on other's choices - it's only fair that I put mine out there as well. If you don't agree with me, let's not call it a "war" - let's just call it mature adults having different opinions. And if you feel like you want to judge me for any of the above - go ahead.
Like I said - we don't all have to like each other.
(photo: S.P./ Shutterstock.com)