The other day I wrote about a woman who earned a ton of negative comments on her blog over the contents of her hospital bag (I know, right?). In thinking about her experience with random drive-by criticism, I said that I find it laughable when I hear people saying that the "Mommy Wars" were made up by the media. I said that while the (incredibly annoying) term may have been coined by some pundit who was likely fishing for a grabby-looking headline, the reality is undeniable -- thanks to the Internet, moms these days have a global venue in which to passionately disagree with each other over every single goddamned topic under the sun.
SAHM vs. WOHM. Breastfeeding vs. formula. Cloth vs. disposable (and whatever happened to elimination communication, is that still a thing?). Co-sleeping vs CIO. And on and on it goes, with all sorts of methodologies coming in and out of vogue to fuel the fire (pre-chewing your toddler's food! Free-roaming baby beds! Baby-led weaning!).
Stop the mommy wars, people cry! We're BETTER than that! Unite in the power that is motherhood! But here's what I'd like to know: why do we continue to believe that because we are parents, we're any different from every other group on earth who likes to argue about shit?
Everyone knows that in a group of somewhat like-minded people -- i.e., people who have children, or people who own motorcycles, or people of a particular religion, or people who like to play World of Warcraft -- there is going to be diversity of opinion. There will be all sorts of different beliefs about the "best" way to do things, and people will inevitably disagree with people who don't share their beliefs. Depending on someone's personal level of assholery -- or the aggression they manage to summon when they're safely hidden behind a computer screen -- there will be name-calling, below-the-belt insults, and downright obnoxious behavior.
My husband used to be an avid scuba diver, and I remember once taking a peek at the dive-related web forum he was reading. Now, you might think that a group of people sharing the same interest would be pretty cool with each other, right? Ha ha ha ha ha ha WRONG. Oh my god, the FIGHTING going on, over equipment, dive locations, and particularly over two different methodologies to learning and practicing diving: DIR vs PADI.
It was absolutely no different than the so-called mommy wars. And I'm pretty sure you'll see the same thing on within any group who gives half a damn about the thing they're interested in. Being passionate about a subject is a good thing, but an unfortunate side effect is that we end up being passionate when our choices are challenged, even indirectly.
Really, what makes mothers such special flowers that we're held to a different set of expectations from the rest of the world? I know there's this soft-focus ideal of mothers banding together -- creating a high tide that raises all boats, if you will -- but if you ask me, it's not only unrealistic, it's this VERY IDEA that creates all the spin around "mommy wars." Maybe if we dropped the notion that we're all supposed to be part of one big happy sisterhood, we'd stop getting ourselves into a wankfest tailspin every time there's a disagreement.
I think there's actually a pretty simple answer to dealing with the mommy wars, and that's to ditch the reductive, ridiculous, painfully stupid name, and call it what it is: people disagreeing, with some people inevitably acting like sanctimonious shit-heels in the process.
When it comes to petty fighting and criticism, we as mothers aren't really better than that. What we're better than is believing that our occasional bad behavior is deserving of endless amounts of attention and speculation as to why, WHY OH DEAR GOD WHY, when the truth isn't complicated in the least. We're all connected through parenthood, but in many cases that may be the sole common thread. People with different values and situations often disagree. That's all. It would be nice if we could all tend our own gardens in peace, but when in the history of humankind has THAT ever happened?
Do you think the "mommy wars" are different from all the "non-mommy" disagreeing and sniping people do?
Image via Flickr/landschaft