Thursday, September 5, 2013
Strategy for Winning the Mommy War
There's lots of talk of mommy wars. Whether it's "career women" vs. "SAHMs," "Tiger Moms" vs. Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding vs. Formula--at each age, at each stage, chances are, you may find yourself engaged in Mommy Wars. I recall one of my own a few months ago where I attended a social function which was awesome partially because I was able to enjoy the evening with a couple of my favorite mom friends--and also awkward, because of an interaction I had with a new mom acquaintance with whom I found myself in the midst of a battle. This is really sparked the beginning of my strategic plotting on ways to win the Mommy Wars. Here are my tips below (Bear with my lengthy guide and read all the way to the end in order to be fully equipped):
1. Recognize your opponents strengths-
In my awkward situation above, my "opponent" was a pediatrician. We weren't at her office, but rather a fun social function. While complimenting a fellow pediatrician who saw 2 of my kids at the time, I let it slip that we also loved our second pediatrician because he empowered us to choose whether or not to vaccinate our youngest child. As the words flowed out of my mouth, I knew I had committed one of the unforgiving offenses amongst the local pediatric community, as very few options are available for parents locally who want to delay or refuse vaccines and our primary pediatrician had asked us to find another physician for our youngest child because we weren't sure if we would vaccinate this time.
Immediately upon hearing about my transgression, this lovely mom turned into a vigilant vixen. I heard the same lecture about child endangerment and the other terrible effects of unvaccinated children. I left the party feeling attacked and upset about an educated decision that I made for our family with the well-being of my children as the primary reason behind my decision. I was mad at her, but after thinking about it further, I resolved that I encountered a passionate, intelligent mama who also happened to be an accomplished pediatrician & this was her strength. While I am well-read on the issue and feel confident in my decision, the other mom felt compelled to share from her area of expertise & most likely saw herself being more helpful than harmful. I resolved that I would appreciate this mama's strength & passion.
2. Train for Battle-
While parenthood doesn't come with an official instruction manual, there is an abundance of reading material, workshops, and community groups focused on helping you become a better parent. For me, the list is almost overwhelming, but don't let that stop you from being an educated parent. We are equipped with the innate ability to care for our children and learning more about our instincts and decisions can only help us be prepared for growing strong, healthy children--and in turn--standing our ground when we're faced with a Mommy War.
In my situation, I began researching the hot topic issue of vaccines shortly after my first child was born. As a young mommy, I had no idea that there was speculation of harm until I was researching "side effects of vaccines" when my son had a fever (normal). It opened my eyes to a scary new world, and although I decided to continue to follow the advice of our pediatrician, I wanted to ensure that I was well-read on both sides of the issue as well as some of the other parenting challenges & opportunities we're faced with. While there's also bound to be bad advice & over-researching can make you go crazy, investing some time in training for battle can help you build confidence in your decisions and/or empower you to make different decisions based on the facts you have.
3. Talk About Other Moms-
Talking about other moms is often something we do VERY well...except we do it the wrong way. Yesterday I spent time with a mom friend and we had some great discussion. Several times in our conversation, this mom talked about several of her mom friends. She shared about how one of them kickstarts her day with a shower, full makeup & devotional that gets her pumped to attack the rest of the day with fervor. She talked about how another mom valued hospitality & committed to always being available for others to drop in to join dinner. She talked about another mom who started a playground meet up to ensure that some of the new moms with young children had an outlet and adult conversation during the day. All of the things were inspiring. She lifted up other moms sharing their strengths instead of their weaknesses. If we made it a habit to talk about other moms this way, we would feel so much more equipped to take on the battles we face.
4. Recognize Your Victories-
We each have our own strengths and strategies and they can appear vastly different from what the other moms in our life do that work for their families. Don't live from a place of defeat (by comparison). Recognize your own victories and realize that you're fighting a long battle worth conquering. If we own our victories then we'll stop being our own worst critic. After all, the mom that "coached" me on the vaccine issue didn't make me feel defeated--I did. I second-guessed my decision and felt defensive when I was once confident in this family decision. If we can quit being so hard on ourselves and see our own strengths, we can persevere through any battle.
5. Recognize Allies-
The truth is, all of us Moms face battles every day. Many of them are with our children as we work to refine their character and simply support their lives. Some of us are facing battles with our marriages, some of us are facing battles with health, with work, with finances, with others. We could use a few allies. If we do more of recognizing each others' strengths, welcoming a community of advisors and becoming the support that other mamas need, if we talk about the awesome things that we are doing instead of belittling and judging, we will see each other as a group of wonderfully diverse allies. We can bring Peace to Motherhood & in turn, be the strong Mamas we are called to be.
Now go forth & conquer!