This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart. All opinions are 100% mine.
These days pretty much every decision a mama makes is up for discussion, whether she wants it to be or not!
When you become a mother, strangers will stop you in the store to ask how your baby is sleeping, what baby is eating or your views on vaccinations and then (as if that wasn’t awkward enough) they’ll proceed to share their thoughts on why you are wrong about any/all of the above and to offer their thoughts on sleeping arrangements for infants.
It amazes me that moms can’t make simple statements about their choices, without people weighing in to tell them why they are “wrong”. This was illustrated so clearly to me this week, by the responses I’ve gotten on a post I did about natural ways to induce labor. The comments on the post itself have stayed pretty tame, but the debates are going strong on some social media outlets and it just astounds me.
Now, if I had made a statement like “10 reasons you NEED to induce your baby immediately” I would expect backlash (because that’s just nuts!). But that was not the post I wrote. I shared some common “natural ways to induce labor” that didn’t work for me, and encouraged moms not to stress out about the timing of labor. I reminded mamas that stress itself can delay labor, so to try to relax, whether you choose to try any of the natural induction processes or not.
Even in what I thought was a non-controversial post, people will jump in and make comments about how all inductions are bad, or make statements in public situations that make other mothers feel guilty for their personal choices. The mommy wars are unavoidable these days and that makes me so sad.
My first year of motherhood was a tough one. I was wildly insecure and worried about every decision I made. Was I good enough? Could I handle being a mom? A thousand stresses and fears in my mind, only made worse by the people that told me I was wrong with Every. Single. Decision. That I made.
Not because my own decisions were wrong or dangerous, just because they were different from what “random stranger #5” had chosen for her family.
Yes, it’s partially on us, we can’t let the nay-sayers get to us. But when mama is already hormonal, tired and insecure about parenting, it’s really hard to let things slide.
The thing we often fail to realize, is that there are many “right” answers when it comes to parenting, and very few wrong ones. Love your children, care for them, don’t abuse them. It’s really that simple.
If you choose breast or bottle, that doesn’t matter so much. Co sleeping, room sharing, or nursery from day one. Those are personal choices that each family must make for themselves.
My choices as a mother are not open for debate.
That doesn’t mean, in the slightest that I’m doing this alone, or I think I know everything. My mother in law gets way more than her fair share of emails with questions and even some phone calls from her crying daughter in law as I try to figure this whole mommy-hood thing out. I have friends that I text when I’m in crisis mode and a husband that helps me figure it all out too.
Parenting is not meant to be done alone. Not even a little bit. But it’s also not meant to be an argument or a competition. This isn’t debate club, this is life, these are precious children being nurtured by their parents in the best way possible for that family.
So the next time you think about shedding some light on a new mommas mistakes or misunderstanding. Or “raising awareness” for whichever mommy-cause you are most passionate about (I have my passions too), maybe, instead look your friend in the eye and say something like “you are such a great mom” or “I can already tell you are going to do a great job at this”.
Those are the words moms rarely get to hear, those are the words she craves. Not one more person’s opinion, not one more friend telling her she’s making the wrong choice. Not one more person being silent, leaving her to wonder if they are mocking her choices in their heads. Use your words to build her up. If she asks your thoughts and your opinions, share them freely. Just don’t start debates. That’s not what motherhood is about.
Motherhood is not about how many people I can convince to cloth diaper or to make their own baby food (though I LOVE doing both of those things). It’s not about how many moms I can guilt or tease into making the same birthing choices as me. And it’s not about arguing over milk choices.
Motherhood is about love. Loving our children and caring for them to the best of our abilities. Wouldn’t it be great, if one day it was about loving and supporting each other through all of our decisions too? Even the ones that are different. Even the friends who choose differently in almost every situation?
That would be a beautiful day. We can’t change the world overnight, but a few more smiles and a lot more reminders like “you’re doing great mama” will be the perfect start!
Thanks to Walmart brand Parent’s Choice ™ for sponsoring today’s discussion. Parent’s Choice Formulas are clinically proven to be as well tolerated as the national brands. They are an affordable brand of formula, and they offer a savings calculator on their site that shows how their prices compare to name-brand formula.
Which mommy-wars do you find yourself getting caught up in most of all? What ways can you find to encourage the mamas around you today?
Well said, Paula.
Sarah C says
This is great and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I have to remind MYSELF to not try to convince another mom to make the same choices I’m making.
Yes! It’s definitely hard on both sides, because you want to be able to share your experiences, but there’s such a fine line between sharing and forcing (especially when a new mama is in the picture!)
wow! So true!!! I am not a mommy yet… hope to be in a few years, but I see this everyday! and it hurts that maybe I can’t share with those persons my thoughts on a subject because they are always trying to guilt other peoples into their belief. Well Said!
Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids says
Great post Paula! I couldn’t agree more. It is amazing to me that people in person or online feel like they can tell me what I should be doing or what I believe is wrong when they don’t even know me or my family. Also, I think a lot of Moms get hit with so much propaganda materials that they start believing these groups’ opinions, and then think they are facts rather than doing their own research and looking at more than one source. I think just being there for other Moms and supporting each other is what you can and should do encourage others.
Very true, there is so much “propaganda” for moms these days, and most of it says it’s the ONLY way. That’s the thing that bothers me most about baby books!!! There are so many fantastic ways to be a mom!
Kay (A Ranch Mom) says
Excellent post!! This is such a problem – and it is so hard. I find myself defending my choices all too often. I think the ones that have been the hardest for me are the breast vs. bottle, and vaccinations. I have done both (and neither!) of those things. I tell young(er) moms to trust their gut, ask their husband for his opinion, (husbands are less emotional, LOL) and let everything else roll off their backs.
I think you hit it right on when you said “loving them to the best of our abilities.”
That’s all that matters!
haha ‘husbands are less emotional’ we’ve had many conversations about mommy-stuff and my hubby is always flabbergasted by how rough moms are on each other!!! Good advice :)
Ashley Greenwood says
Wonderful post! I should have worn that quote on my shirt at the park this week. ;)
haha it wouldn’t be nice! Along with the onesie “my mom doesn’t need your advice” for the baby. perfect!
As a “seasoned” mom, I want to reassure all of you new-to-be, just-new, or new-moms-for-a-little-while out there that what you are doing is RIGHT for your family. Do not take to heart what ANYONE else is telling you; courteously listen, yes, but never interpret what they’re saying as a demand or implication that you should change what you’re doing. We moms sometimes take unsolicited “advice” as gospel, when all it is is conversation. You can graciously thank the person giving you advice and comment to her that what she did for HER family seems to be working well; there’s absolutely no need to feel that you must now change what you’re doing!!! Unless your baby is showing obvious signs of distress or is having a difficult time adjusting to certain situations where advice would be a good thing to seek, just relax, love on your little one as much as possible, and all will be well!!!!! You do NOT need to defend yourselves about anything you or you/your husband decide!!! Remember, no one can put you down or make you uncomfortable without your permission.
Thank you Casey!!! I appreciate that a lot. :)
I appreciated everything you’ve said and how graciously you handled it, Paula! I find that I haven’t been caught up in too many of the mommy battles, but in our area, homeschooling/large family/breastfeeding/attachment parenting/whole foods diets tend to be the issues that come up most frequently (as in, the mentioned choices tend to be more popular and therefore, pushed as ‘the better way’). And it’s so frustrating – it must grieve the Father when we refuse to embrace and delight in how differently He’s wired each of us and our children!
I’m your neighbor this week over at the Time-Warp Wife. :) What a blessing to read this post!
Yes yes yes!!! We are all so different so what’s perfect for one family might be hard for another! :)
Sarah @ The Gospel At Home says
Yes, yes and yes! Sorry there were some painful comments on your last post. It’s hard being vulnerable about motherhood and the choices you make – you want to encourage other mum’s to be themselves, but you open yourself to slack as well. I wrote about this last week, but I think you wrote about it better than me! When I suffered through postnatal-anxiety, one of the things that encouraged my darkness was my own insecurities and fears and the unsolicitated advice that seemed to contradict another person’s advice! Argh! So glad I’m more confident now!
for sure, it’s amazing the type of confidence that comes with a little experience, and realizing that people would be telling you “you’re doing it wrong” no matter WHAT you decide! You can’t please other people through parenting. It’s just not possible. So freeing when this is realized and you can just stop worrying!!! :)
Janelle @ The Smudge Curve says
Yes! When my son was a newborn, I found myself in the “co-sleeping” and “cry-it-out” wars. I wish I had the confidence back then that I do just two years later. Things would be so much better if we could just encourage each other instead of trying to “one up” each other. After all, this motherhood thing is hard enough!
Motherhood is definitely hard enough without the wars! Agh!!!
Katie Hamilton says
“The thing we often fail to realize, is that there are many “right” answers when it comes to parenting, and very few wrong ones. Love your children, care for them, don’t abuse them. It’s really that simple…Parenting is not meant to be done alone. Not even a little bit. But it’s also not meant to be an argument or a competition. This isn’t debate club, this is life, these are precious children being nurtured by their parents in the best way possible for that family.” <3<3<3 LOVED THESE LINES! <3<3<3 This is good. Women, married, single, mammas or not, are typically pretty insecure about our decisions as it is—and/or very determined to share emphatically that ours were the RIGHT ones (perhaps to push away that ever-impending cloud of insecurity????? L) So why make it worse for some random stranger in a grocery store?! L I think you’re doing fine J Just ask your babies. They love you. Organic or not. Co-sleepers or not. RIGHT ON!
“You are doing fine, just ask your babies” love it!!!! That’s so true. The smiles on their little faces mean more than 1,000 pieces of unsolicited advice!