Mommy Wars: The Battle of Condescension and Retaliatory Judgment
In regards to motherhood, we have tons of decisions to make straight out the gate. Natural or medicated birth? Breastfeeding or formula? Vaccines? What parenting style will I practice? How will I dress him...what if he wants to wear pink? Will I go back to work? Stay at home? As the children grow older, we have questions about screen time, friends, education, extracurriculars, you name it.
There is always something to decide. With any decision always comes people who don't agree with us. This disagreement often comes in the form of judgement.
Maybe a month or so ago, I remember coming across a post in one of my mom groups about a mom standing in the grocery store checkout line with her son, while he sat happily (and quietly) in the cart sucking the sauce off of a McDonald's chicken nugget. Okay, so he wasn't exactly sitting all the way. He was reaching for stuff on the counter, but he's little, so what do you expect? Apparently, the mom in front of her, with her sitting-ever-so-still-and-quiet toddler, made a loud, condescending remark to the cashier about how she couldn't wait to get home and make her daughter homemade chicken nuggets with veggies in them, "because they're healthy AND delicious," while glancing back at the mom with the Mickey D's-nugget-eating-kid.
Now, you're probably thinking, "we know why she did this." She wanted her to kow she was judging her. She wanted Mickey D mama to know that she was wrong. She did it to make her feel ashamed for her dietary choice. How dare she feed her child that crap?! She did it because it made her look "better." It made her look like the more conscious mom. The more put-together mom. The mom who cares more about her kid, because she only makes homemade nuggets...none of that McDonald's crap.
These are some of the things I (and perhaps some of you) thought of, but are they really the reasons? Or just what I, as the reader, assumed? Either way, they're not true. We'll never know...
In response to homemade mama's comment, moms immediately jumped to the defense of Mickey D mama. Solidarity was shown, and she was reminded that just because homemade mama appeared rude and judgemental with her comment, that didn't make Mickey D mama any less of a mom. We all fed our kid junk sometimes. We all had a kid grabbing for stuff off the counter. Kids were kids. Some of us experienced "worse" moments that day, like tantruming toddlers in Target. Homemamde mama was called a pretentious twat (perhaps, her tone truly was pretentious), and was mostly ragged on for making homemade chicken nuggets with veggies.
Despite many mamas' accusations against the other mom for judging, they in turn threw judgement at another mom's "way of momming." Although her comment was indeed unncecessary, the act of making her own chicken nuggets wasn't a crime against humanity; yet she was judged for it as though her choice was wrong.
This is the problem with motherhood. We are always judging...whether it's retaliatory and in defense of being judged by some other "pretentious twat" or because we ACTUALLY ARE THE PRETENTIOUS TWAT being condescending and judging the "lowly peasant mothers" who feed their kids garbage or do other things we don't agree with. The judgement is thrown back and forth and justified ten times over. Moms who spend their Sundays preparing seven organic, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, dairy-free meals for dinner for the entire week are judged for "over-achieving." They're judged for being extra because "nobody got time for that" (although, I really don't have the TIME or PATIENCE for that). They're "showing off". Perhaps this is just really what they love to do, and they do have the time for it. The moms who run through the drive-thru every few days because they're exhausted, and there are no clean dishes at home, and hubby is working the night shift are judged for being lazy, feeding their kids BS, and probably thrown shade for having a husband who works the night shift. These mamas may be exhausted from spending all day and night with the kids for the week, may have had a sick one-year-old and no sleep for the past 48 hours, and just can't keep their heads above water. This is the best they can do for now. No matter our position, neither of us deserves being judged for doing our best to take care of our kids. EVER.
It's like Mommy Wars...and no one wins. We're constantly defensive momming: always defending ourselves for the choices we make for our kids and our way of momming. Those momsecurities I mentioned before start to manifest. Our feelings get hurt. For a split second, we second-guess our parenting choices & abilities. We then have to bring the other down because we feel she was trying to break us with a comment or a glance. We belittle her, no matter her choice. "She thinks she's better." "Anyone can make or do that." "She doesn't try hard enough." We talk about her in a mom group. We may even make a shady remark to her, or within earshot for her to truly feel bad about herself. In the end, we are determined to be the one who stands. But the truth is, we both get worn out. It's tiring always having to be on defense. Neither is right. Both are judging. Both are shaming. Both sides ARE WRONG!
I've been guilty of this, so I'm not without fault or standing on a soap box shouting at the rest of y'all like I'm right. I've been thinking about this ever since I read that post last month, and it has shaped my interactions with other moms since then. I've been holding my thoughts back a little more, truly taking in other mamas' stories and trying to understand their choices. This also made me wonder how I'm percieved as a mom. Do I come off as pretentious because I make a lot of my children's clothing? I bake them birthday cakes and do crafts and plan cute parties instead of buying everything store-bought? I make statuses and post pictures about what I've done or made. I look like I have it together. NEWSFLASH: I still buy clothing at Target & thrift stores, I ordered a sheet-cake from the grocery store for my daughter's birthday last month, I ordered ALL of the decorations off of Amazon, I do everything with discounts or library passes, and I HARDLY EVER HAVE IT TOGETHER. What part am I at liberty to be judged for? Some of it? All of it? You know what...WHO CARES???!!!!
Neither of us is perfect. We all do what we know how to do and what we think is best for our kids. We do what we need to do, and we damn sure don't need judgement for it. You wanna grab McDonald's because it's convenient? You'd rather grind up chicken and veggies and make nuggets yourself? More power to you. Do whatever you want to do, as long as you keep your kids alive and well! We've already got a lot to prove to the world as women, as working mothers, as stay-at-home mamas, as WHATEVER type of mama we may identify as. Please, let's cut one another some slack. Motherhood is a sisterhood. None of us can do it alone. It'll be a heck a lot more inviting if we just accept and embrace our differences, agree to parent to the beat of our own drums, and keep it moving without the snark. No more of this judgy crap. Let's end the Mommy Wars. Truce?