Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mommy Wars

I just read an encouraging blog post written by a dad and husband. It was encouraging to me, a stay at home mom, though I'm sure it would be the opposite for my friends who work outside the home. So read it at your own risk. Nothing can cause more division than the Mommy Wars.

We are all a bit insecure. We all have self doubts. Did I make the right decision to drop out of college, or quit my job to raise my kids? Would they have been better off if I had continued to work and be able to afford to send them to music camp, an SAT class, or a better college? Or are my kids and I missing out because I am working and someone else is seeing my baby's first steps, or keeping an eye on my teen after school?

Sometimes I talk to women and they start acting defensively, like I or those around them have been judging them for every little decision. They ask me where I work, which in the Silicon Valley is a pretty safe question since not many families can afford to live on one income. I tell them I stay home with the kids and sometimes add that I homeschool. If the woman works, she will typically start telling me how she can't imagine how anyone could afford to stay home, or that she doesn't have enough patience, or that she found a great nanny. If she stays home with her kids, she then tells me all the places she takes her child, every sports practice she attends, often in minute detail, as if she has to justify not working.

Those of us who have special needs kids have a different kind of Mommy War going on. I sometimes talk with people who have a child with autism, or cerebral palsy, or a learning disability, or whatever. When I tell them that my kids have FASD, I get some pretty interesting responses. I get an earful of this therapy, or that diet that changed their child's life and will definitely help my children too. It doesn't matter that my children have different conditions than theirs, or I may not have a few grand to spend on something that may or may not help. I don't mind getting some advice from others, but sometimes it seems like the other mom is trying more to defend her handling of the challenges of raising her child than to help others.

I am declaring a truce!

I honor all women that are trying to raise their kids. And to broaden it further, I honor all women who are trying to make this world a better place, whether or not they have children. I do not judge you for your decision to work outside the home, or not. I don't look down on anyone who sends their kids to school or teaches them at home. I don't really care if you feed your children gluten free food from Whole Foods, plant a garden, and are vegan. And I also don't care if you are seen in the drive through at McDonald's or feed your kids frozen pizza, especially after a hard day at the doctor's office. I think it's great if you choose to try every therapy around to help your child. But I also want to give a hug to the moms who have given up hope for a cure and are just trying to make it through the day.

Yes, I am still a bit judgmental towards those that abuse or seriously neglect their children. I am one of those moms who have to pick up the pieces after my kids' first mom permanently and continuously harm them. I have to practice forgiveness, and try to suppress my mama bear instincts, which isn't a bad thing. It is hard for me to honor an addict who abandons her kids, though I do have pity.

But for all the rest of you women, I salute you!

You may make different decisions than I do. You may have circumstances in your lives that I can't imagine. Or you may chose a different fork in the road, even though we started on a similar path. We have different strengths and weaknesses. Yes, we can give each other advice, but with humility, allowing others to take that advice or try something else. We are all weak in areas that we would love to be strong. We will all make mistakes or be so tired we don't do what we know we should. Other times we will stumble upon something brilliant. Good for you!

Life would be so much better if we stop our squabbling, our comparing, and our judging. We women need to stop the Mommy Wars and start supporting each other, rejoicing in the good times and lifting each other up in the hard seasons. We need each other, especially those who aren't like us. I need my women friends, those who have kids and those who don't, those who have a career, and those who homeschool, those who think like I do, and those who I can't understand.

I can't stop everyone from engaging in the Mommy Wars, but I can stop it in my own life. I need every one of you. Hugs and loves! You are awesome!

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