Yup, that's right, I excitedly became a member of the Mommy Club and then soon fell into the Mommy War.
I am ashamed to admit how much I have participated in this. I would love to say that it was naivety in being a new mom that drove me to engage, but truth be told, I just wanted to do this mommy thing right. And when so much is at stake - the very life and development of another human being - we get pretty defensive about what we have decided is right. The defensiveness quickly escalates to criticisms and judgments and then all out war - just to protect that rightness - and to make sure that we feel good about our choices and look good, too. It's a really ugly manifestation of insecurity in our own decisions. I am kind of exhausted of it, though.
Just shy of ten years of being inside this Mommy Club, I have finally come to the place where I understand that what is right for one family, for one child, is not universally right for every family, for every child. It's just not. There's no cookie-cutter method of parenting.
I am overwhelmed over the lack of grace we women - mommies - give each other. It's yucky. It's like a grown-up version of junior high, and that gives me the shivers. There is not a topic that is safe, everything is subject to her disapproval.
To breastfeed or bottle feed
To use breast milk or formula
To work or stay home
To eat natural or not
To cloth diaper or disposable diaper
To home school, private school, or public school
To do Santa Claus, Halloween, the Easter bunny or not
To allow screen time or not and how much
To be a helicopter parent or raise free-range children
To spank or not to spank....
The list could go on for days. The battles are endless. The lines are constantly drawn, and engagement in the war is seen everywhere - on TV, on social media, at the park, at church - everywhere - no place is safe.
Why do we feel so entitled to challenge other mommies on the choices her family has made? I dare say that this superiority (for deep down when we look at the ugly underbelly of the war - superiority is at the root - superiority entwined with insecurity) is destroying the beautiful village feel that somewhere inside the heart of all moms, we need and crave. How can we be a village with other women, when we are constantly defending our choices, and in the defending, criticizing hers? To me, having a village of lifetime friendships with other women, regardless of our parenting styles and choices, sounds so much better then feeling right about my choices, and therefore living in isolation, because our parenting choices will never ever perfectly match her parenting choices.
In the past, I have waxed eloquently (errr maybe just waxed) about some of my own decisions in parenting. I specifically remember the topic of home schooling, and how strongly I once felt about that topic. Don't get me wrong, I do love home schooling, and after taking a year off, have once again chosen that as the method of education for my children. But it is not the best choice for every family. It's really, really not. It was not our best choice this past year. So, we didn't do it. We took a much needed break. We chose private school, and we chose it simply because that is where our oldest son had to attend on his student visa, and in an effort to streamline our chaotic life a bit, we sent our oldest daughter to the same private school. But I don't need to defend that choice. It was the best decision for our family for that time. And if public school had been the best decision, we would not have hesitated to choose that. In that moment, of that decision, I found peace, clarity, and grace. I stopped worrying if, because she was still home schooling her children, and I wasn't, she was a better mommy than I was - I stopped wondering if she was enough while I never would be. Because there is really no such thing. None of us are enough, and that's why we need to show our children that Jesus is enough. Honestly, that will probably look quite different for all of us.
So, I am waving my white flag in this Mommy War. Instead of comparing myself to how she mommies, I will, with God's direction, do what is right - right now - for my family. I will choose to stop defending my choices and criticizing hers. The criticism is just insecurity anyway, and my security doesn't need to come from another mom's approval of how I parent. I want to instead be a beautiful member of that Mommy Club, and notice our unique differences, strengths, goals, dreams, passions, etc. I want to take the time to notice the truth that most mommies are doing what is best for their family right now. It's true, all of us moms have short-comings. We will all make mistakes in this journey of parenting, there is no such thing as a perfect mommy, but most likely, we don't need our mistakes pointed out. We will get there and grow in our parenting. And in between all of the gaps and mess-ups, Jesus fills them in, and He can use us to help fill them in, too, when we wave our white flag and offer grace to one another.
I think that we can really play a part in trying to end these silly Mommy Wars, and link arms and spread grace inside of the Mommy Club. Let's be a different generation. Let's not divide ourselves - the world does a good enough job at that already. Let's be a safe, beautiful place for each of us to be the mommy God created us to be. I don't want to be offended by her, or judge her, or size myself up by her. I just want to be part of a sisterhood that encourages and champions her wherever she is in her journey. We are in this together - we all answer to the same name, Mommy. We are all her.