It's TIME To Stop Fighting the Mommy WarsKatherine Stone
I love mothers. I love motherhood (and also apple pie, but not baseball). For whatever reason, my life is centered around mothering, whether as the mother of two children, an advocate for women with depression related to pregnancy and childbirth, or a writer here at Babble.
My mother was unwell after I was born. She became a severe alcoholic, I believe mainly to self-medicate for an undiagnosed postpartum depression. I have a deep and painful understanding of the significance mothers play in people’s lives, and of the unfillable hole that is sometimes left when something happens to prevent or sever the links between mother and child. I also am grateful to know, as mother to my two happy, silly children, what invaluable, magical stuff those bonds can be, no matter what parenting style was used to form them.
Given my life’s history, one of my central beliefs is that we should hold mothers up. Encourage them. Let them know that they are the exact right mother for their children, and connect them to whatever tools and support they need to do the best job they can. This is why, when I see us arguing about methods of parenting, my heart hurts. That sounds dorky, I realize, and completely cliche, but I really do get a tightness in the center of my chest.
Tomorrow, just two days before Mother’s Day, TIME magazine will publish a cover story entitled, “Are You Mom Enough?” Heart. Tightening. The timing of the story, the inflammatory headline on the cover and the art-directed photo meant to titillate that accompanies it, are all part of a very purposeful strategy to divide parents and sell issues. What the story is about almost doesn’t even matter. What really matters is pitting people against each other and being sensationalist and poking at the walking bundles of raw nerves that are parents. I felt an immediate urge to fight against it, so I reached out to parents in the Babble blogging community asking for their response to the piece.
Many said they didn’t want to respond. They don’t want to play the game, fan the flames, sell more copies of the sensational story. Don’t react at all. I said I wanted to battle back against the media’s portrayals of the mommy wars, and one responded, “You are the media.” Touche. How do we talk about these things without spreading around the initial story that gets people arguing again? Are we ourselves guilty of doing the same thing sometimes? Should we even fight back at all? After all, my own mother always taught me that when you are in a tug-of-war with someone, if you drop the rope they’ll be the ones who fall down.
I agree we probably shouldn’t get all huffed up and surly. Kill them with kindness and all that. Instead, can we just say HELL YES we are enough?! Can we stand together in support of each other and the fact that all sorts of parenting choices lead to the same end, which is love? Instead of reading those other words, words that were designed to raise up the hackles in all of us, we’d like you to read these. Here’s a love bomb from Babble for all of you moms out there on this Mother’s Day weekend. You are enough. We are sure of it.
Catherine Connors | Her Bad Mother 1 of 20"No mother should ever question, even for a minute, whether she is 'mom enough.' Regardless of whether or not she co-slept, breast-fed, organic-fed, cloth-diapered, baby-wore, WHATEVER - she is enough. If she loves her children, makes her children laugh, keeps her children warm, ensures that her children feel loved and cared for - she is enough. We are all enough. More than enough. We're moms."
Find Catherine at Bad Mother Confidential
Ana Flores | SpanglishBaby 2 of 20"What do the words 'Mom Enough' mean, anyway? I have my own internal issues, doubts, fears, pains to even question how good or bad I am as a mom on anyone's scale other than my own. Instead of posing on the negative end of the pendulum, I decide to swing to the positive one where I realize that every single one of my intentions are a moment of light and learning. I do screw up A LOT, but that's part of motherhood and the beauty of it. I applaud moms for every single decision they take every day. I applaud moms for listening to their internal voices and understanding they will always be much more than enough. Enough isn't even a large enough of a word to encompass the word 'MOM'."
Find Ana at SpanglishBaby
Asha Dornfest | Parent Hacks 3 of 20"To say there is one 'best' way to mother is to say there is one 'best' type of child. The beauty of parenting is that there are as many 'right' ways to do it as there are families. Expert parenting 'dogmas' are like fad diets -- they work for some but generalize to all. More troubling: they sap parents' confidence in their own values and choices. I stand in solidarity with every parent who says, 'Thanks for the input, Dr. Parenting Guru. I'll take it from here.'"
Find Asha at Parent Hacks
Meredith Fein Lichtenberg | A Mother Is Born 4 of 20"Some moms instinctively like a high-touch parenting approach, others are more hands off. It's a style question, usually, not a matter of right and wrong. But becoming a mother is an identity transformation, and it can take a while to figure out your personal style. There are always 'experts' who claim that one way or another is 'best' -- then other experts disagree with the first experts and everyone is tired and cranky and defensive... In the end, it's not one parenting style that makes moms extreme, but, rather, the way that our culture routinely tells us we can't trust our own judgment. It's bullshit -- parenting isn't about Experts and Philosophy but about what it takes to get through *this* afternoon. I support mothers who have the courage to follow their instincts. I support mothers who, when they can't tell what their instincts are, seek support from caring, competent helpers. I support mothers who find other mothers in real life, rather experts spouting generic commentary. What I do not support is publishers who make money by stirring up an online shitstorm of catty divisiveness and calling it Mommy-Wars. I picture them sitting back in their chairs, cackling that all they have to do to generate a million clicks is write the word 'mommy' or 'breast' or 'attachment.'"
Find Meredith at A Mother Is Born
Casey Mullins | Moosh In Indy 5 of 20"We are all so much more alike than we are different, when we allow differences to define us individually or as a whole we lose the spirit of sisterhood that comes with mothering. Playing 'who has it worse' or 'who does it better' doesn't do anyone the slightest bit of good. Rather than asking 'How are you doing it?' we should be asking 'How are you doing and how can I help you?' By taking sides, strong stances and pitting moms against one another we're frightening the voices who need the most help into submission, which isn't fair for mothers or the babies we all so desperately love. It doesn't matter if the baby is in a stroller a sling, being fed from a bottle or a boob, it's the mother behind all those things that matters, and chances are she loves her baby more than anything, and in the end THAT is what matters and THAT is what cannot be reproduced, manufactured or bought."
Find Casey at Moosh In Indy
Jenny Ingram | Jenny on the Spot 6 of 20"It seems when there is a potential for sides in issues related to mothering, the media takes a big spoon with intent to stir. When information is presented as if one person or side is the only right, it is received as an attack against all of those who do not follow that path. In my journey as a mom, it has been not only disheartening but hurtful to feel like you are making the best choices on behalf of your family to be met with a magazine cover in the grocery store proclaiming one side or style of parenting is the only path to raising a healthy, happy family. I have three children and each are profoundly different. I have had to mother them each uniquely ... ranging from whether each was breast fed to what consequence is most effective when they don't do their homework. One mother, three kids ... how much more with each of my fellow mothers and their children. To promote 'ONE WAY' of mothering over another is divisive and harmful to a community of women who already have many mountains to climb - daily. Isn't it enough to have to deal with a raging, unbending three (or 14) year old, without having to deal with people telling us we're bad or wrong or ineffective ... or worse? "
Find Jenny at Jenny on the Spot
Emily Elling | Designher Momma 7 of 20"Every day I look around me, and feel like most everybody else is doing it right, except for myself. I'm sick of comparing my parenting outtakes to everybody else's shiny finished project. No mother is created equal. We're all just doing our best with the talents and gifts we've been given."
Find Emily at DesignHer Momma
Erin Margolin | Erin Margolin 8 of 20"Moms have the hardest job in the world, yet we're the ones who make the world go round. We do it all (and then some) with grace, integrity, and efficiency. Despite inequality in the workplace, despite daddies never being held to the same ridiculously high standards, we forge ahead without support in many circumstances. Fortunately we have each other to rely on. I don't know what I'd do without my fellow mom friends. They are strong, smart, and a force to be reckoned with. When I have a problem or a question, I go to another mom for help. Because moms just know. I'm enough. We're ALL enough. It doesn't matter if I bottle feed and put my baby to sleep in her crib while my best friend co-sleeps and exclusively breastfeeds her infant. We're both getting the job done. We're parenting, running households, working in and outside of the home. We're Supermoms. We do it all....and then some. So back off already."
Find Erin at Erin Margolin
Lori Garcia | Mommyfriend 9 of 20"We have all made choices. We have all made sacrifices. We are all mothers working to raise smart, socially responsible and kind children who possess the values we personally hold dear. Seems to me we are more similar than different. To the sensational media, the misinformed and the moms with their dukes up, I say this: Let's stop all this madness and just play nice; our moms taught us better than this."
Find Lori at Mommyfriend
Katherine Stone | Postpartum Progress 10 of 20"I've seen countless mothers suffer in silence, and not reach out for help because they didn't want anyone to know they weren't measuring up. They believed they weren't 'mom enough.' That pisses me off, y'all. Please know you are the exact right mom for your child. Forget what everyone else thinks. Forget the people who are trying to convince you that you've already blown it. Do what you believe in. Ask for help when you need it. There's no one right answer to anything related to parenting, except one: love."
Find Katherine at Postpartum Progress
Jenni Chiu | Mommy Nani Booboo 11 of 20"To the media pot-stirrers, stop trying to put us mothers in each others' way. A mother is responsible for another human life. There is no nobler or anxiety-ridden job on the planet. 'Mommy guilt' is relentless no matter what choices we make, but no one helps lessen that guilt like another mother. Mothers are a powerful force, and trying to distract us with each others' choices will no longer work. Most of us are too smart to fall for it. In honoring another mother's choice, we in no way take away the freedom to make our own. The more you try to divide us, the more many of us will link arms. Even with a baby attached to my breast, I'll link arms with the mother next to me who is feeding her babe with a bottle. She will reach over in support of the other mother who is just kicking off her shoes at the end of a long work day. We are nurturing, intelligent, capable, and not your emotional playthings. We are mothers. We can kick your ass."
Find Jenni at Mommy Nani Booboo
Morgan Shanahan | The 818 12 of 20"There are so many more important injustices for Mothers to fight in this world we're leaving our children than the status of another Mother. I'm a work-at-home-mom, a primary caregiver, a postpartum anxiety survivor, and a breadwinner. And I'm more than enough."
Find Morgan at The 818
Jeannette Kaplun | Mamifesto 13 of 20"The so-called 'mommy wars' are wrong because the whole concept has created this artificial notion that once again women cannot respect or support each other´s choices. It assumes we want everybody to do things our way and that we will bring down anybody who dares challenge us. In reality, I have found support (and detractors) in all aspects of my life, but I have never felt at war with other parents. My stay-at-home friends help me out everytime they can, they are my most loyal cheerleaders and I admire them for everything they manage to do on any given day. We treat each other with respect, and many times we have discussions about things we don´t see eye to eye, but that´s what a normal and healthy relationship is about. I support moms, whatever choices they make, because we all believe we are doing what´s best for our children. I don´t care if you´re staying at home or working in an office, whether you're single or married, or if you nursed or formula-fed your baby. If you are trying your best to do what you consider is the best for your children, you are enough. And you deserve the ability to make those choices for your family; actually, that´s what motivated me to start blogging and create TodobebÃ©, because I wanted to empower moms and dads with information to have healthier and happier families. You are enough of a mom if you would do anything for your child, because of the love you feel. The only exception to my unconditional support of other mothers? I will never support those who knowingly harm their children."
Find Jeannette at Mamifesto
Natalie Holbrook | Nat the Fat Rat 14 of 20"I am a solids-delaying, extended-breastfeeding, co-sleeping mother, and proud of it! Some of my best friends are bottle-feeding sleep-trainers and I consider them to be wonderful mothers as well. I'm so proud of them! Enough of this 'mommy wars' garbage! The only people threatened by other parents' choices are bored journalists and out-of-touch marketers, and the only people who get to call me 'mommy' are two-feet-and-under with a limited vocabulary."
Find Natalie at Nat the Fat Rat
Beth Anne Balance | The Heir to Blair 15 of 20"I live by the adage that 'if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.' My happiness trickles down to how I interact with my child -- if Zoloft, coffee, having my own bedroom, & bottle-feeding makes me happy, then my son's going to be better off for it with a relaxed, content momma. Every child is different. Every momma is different. The idea that we can all reap the same benefits from the same upbringings strips all individuality & frankly creeps me out. On the other hand, it sounds like the next best-selling young adult distopian novel, so DIBS."
Find Beth Anne at The Heir To Blair
Deb Rox | Deb on the Rocks 16 of 20"I am a lesbian and the mother of two amazing young men, and I know many other lesbians who are parents. We are all moms, whether we were the partner who gave birth or not, whether we breast fed or not, whether we stayed home or not, and whether or not we were even allowed a parental leave or the ability to adopt the baby our partner carried, let alone share our health benefits with them. Love and commitment is what makes us mothers, not any of those details or other daily details of life. I think this is true of all mothers. The tiny differences and details of how we live, how we parent, how we ARE matters so little, and the so-called mommy wars are inconsequential. Mothers love their children, and the kids are alright. That's what I celebrate. "
Find Deb at Deb on the Rocks
Jane Roper | Jane Roper 17 of 20"I wish that instead of bickering amongst ourselves about whose family and personal choices are superior we could stop and think about -- and support -- the women who are completely forgotten in this debate: underprivileged women, most of whom have no choice but to work, and who lack access to affordable healthcare and childcare, not to mention support and advice on nutrition, child rearing techniques and other resources that the (generally privileged and educated) participants in the 'mommy wars' take for granted. Let's take the energy spent on navel-gazing mommy in-fighting and turn it outward."
Find Jane at Baby Squared
Megan Jordan | Velveteen Mind 18 of 20"I am so grateful for a diversity of parenting styles, I can't even tell you. Our world needs as many parenting styles as we have mothers. Ideally, as many parenting styles as we have children. We need children raised by working mothers, children raised by at-home mothers, children raised by wandering artists and children raised by exacting scientists. My world craves the texture of difference."
Find Megan at Velveteen Mind
Ria Sharon | My Mommy Manual 19 of 20"I understand that being a mom, is so personal. Biologically, birthing and nurturing another human being is programmed into our genes as our highest calling. But for me, it doesn't explain the divisiveness around parenting styles. I don't understand how one person can get offended when another person does something differently. This is what we continue to support at MyMommyManual.com -- that each of us must tap our own intuition and make choices that are right for our kids, ourselves and our families. There is no advice better than that. The Mommy Wars serve no productive purpose. The only explanation for it that I can think of is that all of us walk around with this underlying insecurity that we really aren't enough -- which is why this TIME cover is so inflammatory. Let's take this opportunity for moms to support and nurture each other, regardless of how we choose to parent, which we all really need."
Find Ria at My Mommy Manual
Joanne Bamberger | PunditMom 20 of 20"The thing that angers me off about all this is the reference in the piece that the idea about attachment parenting came from studies that focused on orphans and abandoned children. As a mom of an adopted daughter who had actual attachment issues, probably because she was abandoned and in an orphanage for a year, that we worked on for years to help her know we would never leave her, I am offended that true attachment issues that many children have end up being ignored or marginalized to sell magazines."
Find Joanne at PunditMom