Can we talk, Other Moms? I know this is awkward; we’ve been in a fight for kind of a long time. People are calling it “The Mommy Wars;” not that it’s any of their business. I don’t even remember how it started– you looked at me funny, I rolled my eyes, you said something you didn’t mean, my response came out wrong, you told your friends in a restaurant bathroom, I dunno. Whatever it was, we’ve been glaring at each other across this line for a while now, and I want to make up.
I know it won’t be easy–we’ve hurt each other deeply. At some point, someone said (loudly, no doubt) that natural childbirth is the only right answer no matter what or ELSE. While I totally get the benefits of taking that road, I see now that we can’t really make these decisions for anyone but ourselves. I don’t know what your labor was like, whether you thought you were going to die, how much pain you can tolerate and for how many hours. And you know what? If you went in saying “give me the drugs,” with no attempt whatever to feel a contraction, or you scheduled a c-section between a manicure and a massage, more power to you. It’s just not my place.
One of us might have said that breastfeeding is the single most essential thing you can do for your baby and that baby formula is more or less roach motels dipped in swamp water. I think one of us was being a little dramatic. I don’t know your life. Maybe you really wanted to breastfeed, but you couldn’t make it work, and you envy the other moms who can. Maybe there was a medical reason. Maybe you thought, “you know what? Not for me. My boobs are my business and formula is a-ok.” I think it’s safe to say that you love your baby and don’t consider roach motels to be an appropriate form of baby food.
It’s possible that in a moment of late-night weirdness I MIGHT have said that letting your baby cry it out is cruel and awful and goes against all our natural instincts. What do I know? And plus, I mean…maybe I said it because I’m a wuss and couldn’t bear the sound, even though it probably would have worked. Maybe I envy you your moxie, that you could stay strong enough while crying in a stairwell to see it through to the end. Maybe I am stuck with a terrible napper forever and ever because I just couldn’t hang.
Sometimes when people fight, they say things that are hurtful. At one time or another, you said I was CRAZY to give up my fancy-sounding job and fancy-sounding education to be a stay-at-home-mom. I know you didn’t mean it. Just like I didn’t mean it when I said that letting babies watch TV is bad parenting. I just didn’t know yet that sometimes you are on an airplane for five hours, or you haven’t had coffee yet and it’s 5:30 a.m., or you JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NEED FIFTEEN MINUTES. Just fifteen. I know that now.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since we started drifting apart. I can’t say I know how we got here, but I’m pretty sure we can blame at least some of it on the internet. And baby books. Can’t we support each other, even when the websites and the sleep-solution experts are trying to tear us apart? When we think the other one might be making a weird choice, maybe we can hold our tongues and not assume anything, especially not that we’d do it better. This mothering thing is no joke. We’re each doing our best with the information we have, trying to have some kind of control over a time that is basically chaos. Let’s all just admit that NONE of us knows what we’re doing, and try to love each other instead. Ok?
It’s Mothers’ Day. Let’s get back together. For the good of the children.