Something happens after you have your first child, or at least it happened to me and many women I know. You become somewhat…how shall we say it? Obsessed. Every squeak, cry, burp, fart or lack thereof makes you question what exactly is going on with the little human being you brought home. You know that the nurses at the hospital must have looked the other way when you left because surely they couldn’t possibly have thought YOU could take care of this creature.
And yet, somehow, you slowly begin to figure it out. You learn to interpret those noises, you learn to celebrate the poop and that no a diet of bananas for a baby in the second half of his first year is not good for creating poop. I don’t think I’ve said poop this many times ever on my blog and here I am smearing it all over in the first paragraph today.
We don’t know it all though, none of us do. Years ago, women turned to their sisters, mothers and neighbors for advice and support. Chances are we did what our mothers did with us – because heck it worked for her and that was the influence you had. We certainly turned out alright (despite riding in cars without seat belts and the windows rolled up while dad puffed away on a cigarette, gasp!)
Today, things are different and many of us live hours away from close family. Where do we turn to for advice? TV, magazines, the latest bestselling parenting author’s book and..wait for it…the mommy group.
If you’ve attended a mommy group in the past, and have more than one child, chances are you may have winced when I mentioned that. While mommy groups are an amazing place to make new friends (some of my closest mommy friends are from a group I was in when my oldest was just months old) they are also a breeding ground for self doubt, guilt, and judgement from others. Sounds evil doesn’t it? It isn’t on the surface, and the majority of the people who attend groups are there for advice, friendship and to share the grains of knowledge they gained in the previous week (like, for example, that blue jello can make the resulting diaper contents neon green and cause you to have a near heart attack in a public washroom.) I loved those days, and laughed along with other moms at our discoveries, however messy they may have been.
There are other moms who attend groups like this, who seem to come with one objective only. To share their knowledge, their correct way of doing things, and to pass judgement on all others who don’t follow. This happens as often in mommy groups in person as it does online. You’ve seen it too, we all have. One person asks a presumably innocent question, “My baby is 2 months old and I don’t want to breastfeed anymore, any advice on weaning?” and gets pounced on by mothers shaking their finger explaining how, silly mommy, you should still be breastfeeding and here is my list of reasons why. Did the mom ask for reasons? Nope, she asked how to stop.
The same pounce happens with any “this way or that way” facet of parenting. Cry It Out vs Not…wow can that one get heated. “I am dog tired and need sleep, I need some tips on how to start teaching my baby to self soothe” gets met with “Crying it out is the devil and you suck as a mom for even thinking about doing it.”
Why oh why do mothers have this drive to recruit and persuade a mommy to do things her way, simply because she thinks it’s best? I think every choice I made for my children is the best. Why? Because I’m their mom and I said so.
I formula fed both my babies since the day they were born, coslept for 2 years + with each, and am a stay at home mom. I don’t presume to think my choices are going to work for every family but I do expect them to be respected by my friends. One of my closest friends is passionate about breastfeeding while another has successfully used CIO with her children. Yet somehow we manage to bypass this in our friendship. Why? Because at the end of the day what matters to me is the person they are not the choices they make for their own children. It’s not my job, or theirs, to save the children of the world from parenting choices that are not our own.
Why do some mothers look down their noses at those who do not do as they do? I have no answer. I just wish it wasn’t so.