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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Motherhood: It's Not a Competition


No matter where I look, be it Facebook, Twitter, MSN, or the front page of any parenting magazine, I am bombarded with other women's opinions on a vast number of issues surrounding motherhood.  The opinions I'm fine with; the condescension I'm not.

Case in point: breastfeeding.  I cannot begin to tell you the number of articles and posts I have seen or read relating to breastfeeding.  Some women write in defense of their decision not to breastfeed, some women write in unwavering support of breastfeeding, and some women attempt to educate others about the benefits of breastfeeding and the drawbacks of using formula.  The underlying tone, however, is that mothers are being harshly judged by one another based on whether or not they breastfed.

And, I just think that's sad.  Being a mom is tough.  It may be the hardest job there is.  So, I find it incredibly difficult to understand why we constantly judge one another rather than support each other. 

We've somehow made motherhood into a competition rather than sisterhood.

So, you chose to breastfeed and your friend doesn't.  She understands the benefits of breastfeeding, but for whatever reason, it is something she chooses not to do.  Does that make her a bad mother?  Does that mean she doesn't love her child as much as you do, or she doesn't care about the health of her baby?  No.  It doesn't.  It means that she made a different choice than you did, and that's okay.  Whether or not you agree with her decision shouldn't matter.  You're entitled to your opinion, but that doesn't mean you don't support her, or you try to make her feel guilty with snide comments about formula.

Perhaps you make all of your own baby food.  It's important to you that you know exactly what ingredients and products are going into your child's body, so you take the time to make all of your baby food.  If I choose to buy the packaged baby food from the store, does that mean I'm not as good of a mother as you are?  No.  It means my priorities are different.  Of course I care about my child's nutrition, but maybe I choose to use my time in another way such as reading to my child.  I choose to demonstrate my love for my child through reading to him or her, and you choose to show your love by taking the time to make each meal from scratch.  That doesn't make one of us better than the other; it just makes us different.

Maybe you feel that part of being a good mom is spending hours planning the perfect birthday party for your child.  You make all of the decorations and invitations, you order balloons and amazing party favors, and you make the cake from scratch.  If I buy a few items from the store and order a cake from the bakery, it doesn't mean that I don't care about my child's happiness as much as you do.  It just means I value different things than you do. 

Being a good parent is not about how much time and effort you put into party-planning, it's not about whether or not you breastfeed, and it's not about whether or not you only feed your child organically grown foods.  It's about giving your child a safe, healthy, and loving environment in whatever way you choose. 

4 comments:

  1. AMEN! I love being a mom, but I'm finding myself hating other moms. Today at Gymboree I was sitting 3 feet away from two sets of parents who were talking about how irresponsible it is to have more than 2 kids and how crazy it is. They actually said-"can you imagine how horrible your life would be having three kids?"

    Did I mention I was there with my 3 kids?

    I couldn't help myself, I told them off! I started with "do you think I can't hear you?" I'm still annoyed.

    Why do so many people feel the need to judge motherhood/parenthood? This job is hard and you can't quit. We need to support eachother, not tear eachother down. Besides, once you've been a parent for longer than a minute, you realize that you need help from others and that you don't have all the answers. Those parents that you judged, just might have the advice that you need.

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  2. Hear, hear!! I wrote a similar post about how motherhood is NOT a competition. It just sickens me that moms judge each other all the time.

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  3. I couldn't agree with you more. Women can be very judgmental of each other, especially when it comes to raising children. I don't really understand why that is...maybe it is the need for perfection or possibly it stems from insecurity as to what truly does matter...but I would love to see a more relaxed approach to choices made when raising kids. After all, it seems like we've been doing a fairly decent job without the critique. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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  4. Absolutely agree with your point of view. Every mother is smart and careful enough to find the right way to teach and take care of her child. After all, it seems like we've been doing a pretty good job without any critique. Thanks for the post.

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