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As a species, women are quite hard to understand. There, I said it.

We fill the complete spectrum with our differences, yet at our basic core, we are not all that dissimilar. We all have basic needs of love, acceptance, belonging and so on.

Why, then, do we bash each other, berate each other’s viewpoints and pile on guilt where extra isn’t needed?

Now, understand, I am a natural-birthing, breast-feeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, attachment parent, stay-at-home mother who chooses natural remedies over standard medicine. I wear these labels with pride, because being and doing them all successfully is hard work. But does that give me an automatic starting point for thinking I’m ‘better’ than the next woman?

I understand why people sometimes feel they can’t do these things or be these types of parents. I am fortunate. I am in a supportive marriage, I have a good husband. We have had to tighten our belts to near suffocation for me to stay home, but we are doing it and so far, I am at home. I don’t have family around, and my friends are all working girls (not in Pretty Woman way, mind!), so most of these decisions and their successes or failures have been down to me.

Admittedly, mothers who follow trends without doing any research irk me. More so do those who simply believe that profit-seeking companies or bonus-seeking doctors really have their baby’s best interests at heart.

But it’s generally none of my business. And for the most part, if they knew how much they didn’t know, they would try to find out more too – though I’m sure the same is true for all of us to a greater or lesser extent.

I often have to bite my tongue when I hear mothers say things or see them follow practices that the slightest bit of research would change. Carrying a preemie baby will help them develop and grow better than having them in a pram, for instance. Or lying a colicky baby on its tummy for a while. It won’t kill them. And if you’re that worried, sit by them.

But no matter how right I believe my way to be, it is my way and I can’t expect others to do the same.
Of course, should someone ask my opinion or want to know what I suggest I will tell them. If someone is struggling and asks for help or information, I will share what I know.

But if there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that people often don’t want to know when they’re doing something wrong because either they don’t think it’s wrong, or they want to avoid the responsibility knowledge inevitably brings.

I know that I don’t breast feed in order to be better than the next person. It’s so that my daughter can be healthier. I don’t baby-wear to show up the pram users. I do it to keep my daughter close. I don’t co-sleep because it’s the new ‘in thing’. I do so because I sleep better when I can hear her breathe.

I didn’t work hard for a gentle birth so I could rub it in anyone’s face. I did it to show my female kin that it was beautiful and natural, and to bring my baby into the world peacefully, and to reclaim a power and belief in myself.

I did it for me. And therefore I don’t need to judge anyone else, or look down on them, or speak out against them. I don’t know their circumstances. I don’t know their lives.

Most of us will have made the choices that we’ve made for the sake of our babies, but have become so caught up in the politics of the ‘mummy wars’ that we don’t even remember what we did it for in the first place.

We are all mothers, sisters, daughters, wives or friends. Surely we are our greatest support network? The wealth of experience in our play groups, streets, neighbourhoods, towns and cities is enough to revolutionise our generation. But for any positive change to happen we need to stop pointing fingers at each other, to stop trying to better each other and to become the support system we require.

I challenge you to look at why you have made the choices you have, and then live and let be accordingly. I challenge myself to do the same.

26 Comments

Said the Bitch to the Cow

  1. “they want to avoid the responsibility knowledge inevitably brings” <–Yeah, that. I think this is where denial comes from. I have gotten better at biting my tongue, but it is hard sometimes when I see someone raising their child in a way that I see as harmful. If they wanted to learn more they probably would, so I've gotten better at not saying anything.

    1. @Sonya-Justice, I know. I feel bitterly lonely sometimes, in certain company. When people start talking about punishing their ‘brats’ or so on, I cringe deeply on the inside. I believe your children will become exactly what you tell them they are. But there are just those circles where I have actually been RIDICULED for not smacking/not swearing/ not … not… not… . And then they tell me what a pleasure my child is compared to others. Sigh.

  2. Hi, I’m not a mum but I think this post makes some interesting and valid points about respecting other people’s life choices, which of course include the basics of having/not having children. Could I make one small constructive point though? I think it’s ill-titled: I nearly didn’t read it because the title sounded negative to me, which the post isn’t at all. Just something it might be worth considering when you promote your blog through Twitter, which of course I know you do! – but meant just as a ‘tip’, not a criticism. (A word which I suddenly seem unable to spell…)!

  3. I totally agree that parents should just allow others to make their own choices and I also wish they would own their own choices. As a bit of a ‘tree-hugger’ mum too I do find that some mums question my choices and often to justify their own. For instance they say how they wish they didn’t have to work when I know they have similar income to us, it’s just we’ve made sacrifices so I can care for Mini Mck. Or they challenge me on why I co-sleep and why not leave him to cry in the night because they have and I’m sure it is simply to ease their own guilt.
    Totally agree about the childbirth comments and how ‘lucky’ I was to do it without any drugs. I always want to point out that it still bloody hurt.
    I think we can all be a bit judgemental of other parents but i think it mainly comes from a lack of confidence in what we are doing. We need to remember each to their own.
    .-= Mummylimited´s last blog ..The Portrait Gallery =-.

  4. Indeed!

    When working with others to save a local birthing center, I ended up spending time with a lot of folks who fell on either end of the mothering scale. What dismayed me was the astounding amount of criticism put forth on both sides! I’m a live and let live kind of person, or at least I try to be. One thing that has helped is telling myself that I never know why someone is doing what they’re doing. The person with the preemie baby in the carriage, for instance, may have had a traumatic c-section and simply cannot carry her baby just yet. I know at least two women who could not breastfeed because of glandular deficiencies in their breasts, so I never look askance at someone bottle feeding. Those are just examples, of course, but I think how terrible it would feel if I was up on my high horse only to be knocked off it.
    .-= Christa´s last blog ..I’m a Freecycling Mama =-.

  5. I wrote a similar post a while back. Like you, I believe that as long as you’re a thihking parent who has made conscious decisions about what to do or not do with and for your child then that’s fine. The only people I stand in any kind of judgment of with respect to parenting is those who haven’t thought about what they’re doing at all. And, okay, I sometimes am meanly judgmental of other people’s choices to let their kids watch violent TV or act in a sexualised manner. But that’s just me talking to my husband.
    Anyway, here’s my post
    http://www.readilyaparent.com/2010/03/i-bet-you-hate-me-right-now.html

    1. @Dara, Yes. The parents who just ‘accept’ that others have their childrens’ best interest in mind literally cause me pain as I bite myself, but in the end I just have to step back and move on and maybe say a quick prayer for the poor child. But judgement is not reserved for me, lest – to quote the Bible here – I be judged myself. Admittedly I have been known to not SAY anything, but the sheer power of the venom in my stare might give my thoughts away! Thanks so much for your comment!

  6. Interesting post. You talk a lot about choices, but sometimes choices are made for us…

    My first child was a long time coming – 3 days in the hospital after my waters broke – eventually through sheer exhaustion I had an epidural and whatever other drugs they gave me to encourage her to arrive (I don’t know I was too tired to be more than half conscious). I believe I made the healthiest choice for me and my daughter to revert to the medical model at that point. I did not have a c section and ended up haemorrhaging and needing a blood tranfusion. I could not produce any milk so I ended up bottle feeding her. My ‘choices’ for her were bottle or starvation. So yes, in an ideal world your chosen route is a great one, but I feel the need to speak up for those of us who have decisions made for us. We get lumped in with the designer mom with accessary baby, when often the exact opposite is true.

    I had two other healthy happy babies, with healthy happy deliveries….in hospital, using the medical model, for fear that history might repeat itself.
    .-= veryanniemary´s last blog ..Boston Tea Party =-.

    1. @veryanniemary, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am not certain what in my post made you ‘feel the need to speak up’ though. I think the very point of what I said was that a) it’s none of my business what choices other people make for themselves and their children, and b) we don’t know other people’s lives, their circumstances and what led them to where they are.

      I empathise with your first child situation. I myself had 48 hours of labour, so I don’t doubt that you were exhausted. I think you did exceptionally well not to have a c-section, as I think by that stage, most would have. And if you had I would think no less of you, if I had any thought on it at all. What matters in the end is that you and your child were and are healthy.

      I never blame a woman for having a cesearian, because firstly, what business is it of mine, secondly, who died and made me queen, thirdly, she’ll have enough judgement and finger pointing her way that she doesn’t need mine and finally, it was rarely her decision and is usually something thrust on us by doctors who are looking out for their own interests.

      I can see the frustration in getting ‘lumped in’ with designer mums and sadly that is something we all face to a lesser or greater degree in every aspect of parenting. (I can tell you a really long pushchair/young mum/local area story here, but fear you might get bored by my rambling :O)

      But as you feel that you need to defend your corner, I often feel that I need to defend mine. Nothing gets me on my soap box quicker than someone saying for example ‘you were lucky that you got your home water birth’. I wasn’t lucky. I was prepared. And I was stubborn. And I took a calculated risk. When the midwife told my husband that we were going to have to transfer in to hospital when I was still at 4cm after 45 hours of labour, he told her to give us two more hours because he knew how I felt about it (stubborn), and we had measures in place (yoga positions, birthing ball exercises, herbs etc) (preparation), and (calculated risk) I know how long first time mothers can be in labour for, I knew how long my mothers labours had been, I knew how I felt in my gut, and I trusted it, and although my bloodpressure had sky rocketed up to 180/?, my baby’s heart rate was okay (although she did show some distress at times, and there was merconium in the waters when they broke) … anyway, I can go on and on, but what I’m trying to show is that I wasn’t lucky. I put a lot of work in to being as knowledgeable as I could be, so when people come at me wiith ‘you were lucky’, it gets my back up.

      But the first step in all getting along is for one person to smile, and back down, de-escalate the situation and let it be.

      We’re all doing our best as best as we can and that’s what we need to realise, and consciously choose to SUPPORT each other, and HELP each other without criticism and blame and that was the reason for writing this post.

      I hope that all made sense. I didn’t intend for quite such a long response! :o)

  7. I should have said Excellent!!! Your honest openness is what makes people love and appreciate your writtings, hard to chew on, difficult to swallow, bitter to digest BUT life maintaining like a nourishing meal.

  8. Excellent!!! Your honest openness is what makes people love you,hard to chew on, difficult to swallow, bitter to digest BUT life changing like a nourishing meal.

  9. To each his (or her) own girl! This world is so busy wondering about what everyone else is doing and not looking at ourselves! Ahhh, it’s like kindergarten. Keep your hands to yourself, and your eyes on your own work. Can’t we all just get along?

    🙂 I wish I had your patience in all the natural remedies and such…keep keeping on girl!

    Happy Saturday Sharefest!!!

    Alex aka Ma What’s For Dinner
    http://www.mawhats4dinner.com

    1. @Alex Fitzpatrick, Thanks so much for the comment! I don’t know if it’s patience that I have… Just bad experiences upon bad experiences with doctors and ‘standard’ medicine, and a strong reaction to medicine!

      Love your blog by the way – will be checking in for recipes from time to time!

  10. Solid post Luschka and always topical as these ‘mummy wars’, whether or not they’re a media construct or a playground/school gates scenario, are still ongoing and as you say self-defeating.

    I think mums will only learn to stop pointing fingers at each other when we can stop pointing them at ourselves. The two predominant negative feelings we seem to experience as mums are worry and guilt. Society makes us feel guilty for so much, but we also pile loads on ourselves. If only we could learn to accept we will never be that supermum but to our kids we are all superheroines. My son actually calls me Batmummy – I’m thinking of making it my online identity 😉

    Happy Sharefest by the way!
    .-= Babes about Town´s last blog ..What’s Burning Wednesday: Babies in Helmets =-.

  11. I’m not sure why we can’t get along, but you’re right that often don’t. I’m personally very upset by the trend toward c-sections and that no one (in the main stream) will stand up and say that epidurals aren’t helping this trend.
    .-= Joey´s last blog ..Husbands take over blog-land =-.

    1. @Joey, Couldn’t agree more Joey! And the list of complications that goes with it, like trouble feeding in some cases, PND in others and so on. I was chatting to someone about this recently and we agreed that the self declared ‘enlightened’ mother needs to triage the people you speak to: Some want to know and will listen. Some didn’t know they wanted to know, but will listen now they know, and others just don’t want to know.

      If we can focus our attention on the first two types, we will save ourselves a lot of frustration. And we will do what we do because its best for our babies, not because we want to make a point.

      Thanks for being a faithful visitor Joey!

  12. I’m totally with you on a lot of this – as I’ve said many times, I believe women should support each other without belittling or undermining each other. I like the sentiment behind this post.

    However, ‘I breastfeed my daughter so she can be healthier’, is probably going to be a red rag to some mums who have made different choices for their children. No mum likes to be made to feel as though they have chosen something less healthy for their children, or not in their children’s best interests.

    1. @Liz (LivingwithKids), Liz, thanks for the comment. Fair enough about how that could be read, but I just mean, I breasfeed my daughter , and make no secret of the fact that I do think that outside of complications breastfeeding is the healthiest way to go. But I recognise that other people choosing differently doesn’t mean they care any less about their own children. I guess I could have phrased it as ‘I breastfeed my daughter because I believe it is healthier for her’.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  13. I’m glad you had the courage to say these things!! You are so wonderful I have learned a lot from you! I believe being a good parent is having the courage to seek out new and different things to help your baby. My sister calls me lazy because I wear my babies I just laugh and e mail her articles about attachment and premature babies. My mother told me to feed Libby on the “nice bench” in the bathroom and when I replied with “do you eat in the bathroom” she left me alone. I love that you help and give opinions! I learn to be a great mother from women like you my family means well but they scold ( Except my mother who is my idol!!) more than offer help so Im grateful for women like you who take an interest in other women!
    .-= Celina Hosp´s last blog ..Pregnant Bellies: A Love Story =-.

    1. @Celina Hosp, Thanks Celina. That is so lovely of you to say! I am particularly touched that you feel you have learned from my journey. You are a great mom, and I know what a blessing your children are to you 🙂

    1. @New Mummy, I had a read of the link you sent me. I guess the important lesson is one that extends beyond just women and mothers: how can we teach our children to be tolerant members of society if we can’t even be that within our own group?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your link!

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