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A guaranteed end to the Mommy Wars

white_flagAs much as I hate to bring up the mommy wars (oy, can we think of a better term already?) it’s been a good few weeks of reading articles, thinking about articles, thinking about magazine covers, thinking about responses to articles and magazine covers, starting to write–then hesitating to write–my own articles in response.

I haven’t written any magazine covers either. Yet.

As seasoned journalist Anna Quindlen said when I asked her whether there was such a thing as a mommy war (and I paraphrase) she suggested that each one starts in the newsroom of a publication desperate for viewers and page views.

In other words, we agree that outrage is good for ratings.

However I’ve been thinking, there’s a truth to the teeny spark of insecurity that lies deep within any of us, or else there would be no spark to be flamed. No need for defensiveness. No need for attacks. No need for some crazy woman on my Huffington Post article to suggest that moms who stay home full time are superior because ” I don’t want some stranger to teach my child values my family doesn’t agree with” and  “our homes are clean and our children are well cared for.”

(I will just say to her here, with as much restraint as I can, that staying at home is no guarantee of you having the kinds of values worth passing on, especially if those values include shaking your fists at parents who make different choices than you. I can also assure you it’s no guarantee of a clean house.

Former SAHD Nate will be the first to attest to that.)

So I suppose there’s one thing I’m starting to understand with some age and distance regarding this whole war thing: we’re not at war with each other at all.

We might just be at war with ourselves.

It’s my reality vs my fantasy. My expectations vs my worst fears. My idealized parental self vs the one who had to go back to work and miss a dance recital.

I know that when I am at peace with myself, I am also at peace with others.

Don’t you feel that too?

Any time I start to feel judgey about a parent’s choice–one that I don’t think is irreparably harming the kid–I look at myself and think, hm, what’s going on here? What is it about me that finds this so bothersome? Why do I care that that kid is wearing flip-flops in the fall? Why does that extended breastfeeder make me uncomfortable?

It’s a good exercise. And a hard one. And I don’t have all the answers.

It may take a while for us all to get there. We may not ever get there completely. Although if I can share one anecdote with you, it might be helpful.

This week, Sage is her preschool class’s Star of the Week. In her mind that means special attention, snacks of her choosing (something having to do with candy corns evidently), and a day with her family visiting class.

In our mind it means holy crap, we have to sort through 5 years of photos for the Star of the Week bulletin board.

As Nate and I poured through photo after photo this weekend (hazard of the digital generation), a lot of things went through my mind. Like oh, look how cute she was! And aw man, I forgot when she used to do that with her face. Here were the things I was not thinking:

Man, if only I had breastfed her a few months longer.

That Cry it Out thing? Clearly a huge mistake.

Eek, that was the time we played in the park then ate ice cream without even using hand sanitizer.

 Sigh, if only we had pureed more of her baby food ourselves.

Oh no, those Baby Einstein Videos! What a terrible, horrible choice with long-term implications that turned out to be.

Missing that two-year old well visit really seems to have scarred her, poor thing.

Remember how she sat up by herself 1 month before the neighbor kid did? That was awesome!

When I look at her friends I can really tell which ones were born by elective c-sections, poor things.

It’s really weird how well-adjusted she is considering she slept in a crib.

 

Mostly I just thought about how lucky I am to have such an amazing kid in my life.

My point isn’t that our own choices were right or wrong. My point is that all that shit you freak out about in the early months? Eh. Save your freakouts for the playground bullies, the learning disabilities, the cough that doesn’t go away for three weeks. And no matter what, save it for your own kids. Not mine. Not your sister-in-law’s. Not your neighbor’s. Not the anonymous chick on the message board who tells you that God doesn’t want you feminists working or he wouldn’t have given you ovaries.

Now she may piss me off, and I may respond, I don’t need to attack back. Unless she’s personally blocking my path to work with her own body. Then I might have to say something snarky. (Or buy her a coffee, depending on the kind of day I’m expecting at work.)

As my mother has always asked throughout my life when I was upset about something or other, “will this  matter in five years?”

Now, as the mother of a five year-old, I can answer: no. It probably won’t.

{ 80 comments… add one }

  • Amelia Sprout 5.21.2012, 12:41 pm

    I think sometimes that the lizard brain part of us judging others is that it is requiring us to examine our own choices and ensure we are comfortable with them. Oh crap I sound like my mom, but the key is to see what you have to learn from them, not inflict your judgement on others.

    At least that’s what I tell myself along with the following:
    I am comfortable with my own choices, including the ones I didn’t have a choice in at all (thank you early weaning because of sickness and faulty bewbs). I am still learning, I will change my mind, but don’t you dare try to make me feel bad about them. I won’t give you that power. Stop worry about how attached my kids, or if I am feeding them enough organic foods or just what is in that bottle I just gave the baby, and I won’t worry about your kid not calling me Mrs. Sprout or not saying please & thank you.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 1:00 pm

      I wish there were like some kind of Lizard Brain emoticon that we could just stick next to any judgy comment. That would rock.

  • ReesieD 5.21.2012, 12:42 pm

    yes! Amen and thank you.

  • Leslie 5.21.2012, 12:48 pm

    You are so smart Liz. This is the best line ever, “I know that when I am at peace with myself, I am also at peace with others.” Amen. Parents should be making parenting choices for THEMSELVES, as in, I am co-sleeping because it makes MY LIFE easier and I can get more sleep. There is no right or wrong way to parent, kids are tolerant and adjust to everything and to be happy parents we must make decisions about our lives that make US happy, not just our kids. It doesn’t matter what those choices are, but we must be able to choose and we must choose based on what will make each of us the best parents we can be. For me that might be quitting work and attachment parenting for five years, and then returning to work when they are older, and for someone else that might mean going back to work immediately and hiring a nanny. It doesn’t matter, as long as each of us, as parents, is happy and fulfilled.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 12:59 pm

      You are so right Leslie – kids are resilient, aren’t they? I look around at my peers and think of how differently we were all raised. And yet, here we are, in the same place.

  • Mrs. Kennedy 5.21.2012, 12:48 pm

    Really great way to reframe the argument, Liz.

  • Melanie Medina 5.21.2012, 12:51 pm

    This is so well stated. Thank you! The older I get, the more I realize that there is more than one right way to raise a child.

  • Scatteredmom 5.21.2012, 12:54 pm

    Mine is 16. Many of those things that people talk about I have long since forgotten because in the face of him driving, and facing things like college, drinking, and girlfriends, they seem so small. Sure, we made mistakes. But the only ones that I do really wish never happened were when we didn’t recognize the signs of dyspraxia (and therefore, he missed the window for therapy) and we let him languish in a damaging classroom in grade one.

    Even at that, when I apologized to him, he smiled and gave me a hug. “It’s okay Mom, you didn’t know. You do now. Let it go.”

    Kids are smart.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 12:57 pm

      We do all make it up as we go along don’t we?
      What a great kid. Such a good reminder that there are small things and there are big things. Mostly, we sweat the small things.

      • Kelley 5.23.2012, 9:08 am

        Scatteredmom, this made me cry.
        And reminded me how forgiving, kind, and smart our kids can be.

  • dina 5.21.2012, 1:15 pm

    100% agree Liz. As you can imagine, I see a ton of judging mamas in my job. All day long battles with threats and insults that often make me laugh because they’re just so unreal. I often sit here, trying to put myself in their shoes to figure out just why they’re going so nuts. All I can think of is — I know my most judgmental times are also my most insecure – when I’m questioning my own choices. As annoying as it is, I’m happy to be a referee in the wars – because it’s a big fat daily reminder to me that 1) anyone judging me is likely feeling insecure – so they have a bigger problem to deal with than I do and 2) none of it matters. As always, thanks for the post.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 2:02 pm

      Call them on it Dina. Just smile and hug them (virtually) and ask, “are you having a bad day? Is this the best way to come to some understanding?”
      I bet from where you sit it must seem awfully depressing sometimes.

  • Dianna 5.21.2012, 1:20 pm

    I think you’re a genius. Amazingly perfect post on what all of us have been thinking.

  • kate C. 5.21.2012, 1:35 pm

    Interesting article! I do think it’s because of insecurity that these ‘things’ happen (war is terrible, let’s not compare these disagreements to that).

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

    I think the resentment/snarky comments sometimes come from both sides because we can see the ‘other’ side over there and it reminds us of what we’re missing? Because it’s impossible to do 100% everything in life.

    My biggest question though: when is it going to be a ‘war’ between dads about whether they stay home with their kids or not? When is Time going to ask “Are you ‘Dad’ enough?’ Why is ‘mothering’ so inflamatory and dads… well, if you show up (occasionally, around the long hours of your job anyway) that’s good enough?

    Ok, that’s not really true anymore either, and there are pressures on dads. But why does everything always have to be a competition?

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 2:01 pm

      Oh geez, well point taken. But I suppose that I hope there aren’t more wars that divide communities. If we hate it, I wouldn’t wish it on dads. But for what it’s worth, there are dads who take issue with one another at times. And there are communities like Dad Centric which analyze the role and perceptions of dads in society today. Like you, they (and I) don’t think it’s enough for dads to be the hapless guys who are like duh, I don’t know how to change a diaper.

      I guess Time will ask “are you dad enough” when there’s a hugely popular attachment parenting model that requires a father’s full time attention.

      • kate C. 5.21.2012, 2:05 pm

        Oh no, I didn’t mean that they should start some daddy ‘wars’ – it’s just obvious that equality has not really come to men and women when the women have all these pressures and at least in the larger society it’s not the same for men (sometimes that is bad though too, guys that really want to stay home with their kids have it tougher than women do… ugh, except now I’m comparing again, and I didn’t really want to do that!!!)

        EQUAL – let’s all just be EQUAL! :)

        • Mom101 5.21.2012, 2:50 pm

          Good point! Yes, it’s easy to keep talking moms as if we’re sole caretakers when the “traditional” family – woman at home, man working f/t, kids under 18 at home – is now down to 4% in this country. 4%!!

          Source: Edelman Study

  • toyfoto 5.21.2012, 1:35 pm

    More and more I’m coming to the understanding that no matter what the argument, the real war is between me, myself and I.

    Fantastic post.

  • Aubrey 5.21.2012, 1:37 pm

    Really great reminder (even for those of us without kids) – definitely applicable to adults too. Love your mom’s “will this matter in five years” question – stealing that for myself. Thanks for the post, Liz.

  • Elaine A. 5.21.2012, 1:45 pm

    I think most of it is internal, for sure. Sometimes I see another parent doing something (or I did in the past) and think, “Oh man, should I be doing it THAT way?”) And people have a tendency to judge when they just don’t KNOW, you know? I’ve learned in my 8 plus years of parenting now that every kid and situation is different and I’m so OVER these so called wars. I’m think we all just need to call a truce and have an ENORMOUS group hug. And then share a glass of wine (or three). :)

  • Erin 5.21.2012, 1:49 pm

    Ah, Scattered Mom tells it true. It’s hard to see out of the little silo of our children’s current age. My son is almost three, but when people ask me about newborn stuff I look at them like they’re from Mars. I truly cannot remember half of the little things that seemed so much like a Big Deal at the time. Which will be true in three years time, and three years after that and so on I expect.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 1:55 pm

      I can’t remember their birth times or weights…I check back here to find out! Sage asked me what time she was born, on her birthday last week and Nate and I were both like…uhhhh….

  • Suzy 5.21.2012, 1:59 pm

    I had a discussion with my own mom about all these “mommy wars” and my mother said it best, “If it weren’t for the internet, no one would even know about it.”

    I never remember her or any other mom bad mouthing or judging another mom. Neither did any of the moms in the (small) group of friends I had who had kids. They didn’t have time for such bullshit. I wish the moms on the internet could say the same.

  • Korinthia 5.21.2012, 2:02 pm

    This is very well said.

    I think particularly for mothers there is just so much pressure to get it “right” because it’s the only thing many of us care about how we are judged on in the end. You can have an amazing career but if you screwed up your kids that’s how you’ll be remembered. And it’s something we don’t have as much control over as we think we do because every child is different and the rules are always changing. That’s stressful. And then we take the bait when ‘mommy war’ articles appear because we want our opinions to matter and our choices to be validated.

  • Dawn @ thedalaimama 5.21.2012, 2:31 pm

    So well said. I haven’t bought into the “Mommy” War–which should be called the War on Moms. If I have learned anything being a mother (and before that a teacher) not one thing works for everyone. Parenting isn’t a one size fits all. Anyone who has more than one kid can attest to that.

    It took me about 2 months to realized that motherhood is what it is and we all make choices that someone else wouldn’t make. I never freaked out when my kids ate random food from the floor at the mall playground. I certainly didn’t encourage it–but I didn’t freak out. Others did–that was fine. Who cares? I don’t.

    The final step in me realizing this was when it came time to send my kids to school. I knew they weren’t going to our city schools and that we weren’t moving. So, they are in private school. It was then that I realized we are all only doing what we think is best for our kids and for our own family. Something that works for us, won’t work for another family. And that is okay.

    Besides, who has enough time to worry about what others are doing? I can barely keep track of my own kids and my self. I can’t worry if Sally down the street is feeding her kid something with Red #40.

  • Vincent Daly 5.21.2012, 2:39 pm

    When the whole “Mommy Wars” hoopla started to crop on Twitter amongst other places, I barely took notice chalking it up to a play for more magazine sales/web traffic. Yet part of me was slightly interested due to the fact that as a SAHD who also works at home on occasion, might also be thrown into the mix of a “Daddy Wars” when the media catches on to the whole Dads becoming primary care providers in droves thanks to the latest economic downturn.

    I agree that parents should just try to be the best parents they can be. Experts are useful for medical advice, etc. but no so much when it comes to raising one’s own children. In my opinion, outside resources should be aggregated for points of reference. The hard decisions still end up being made by parents. That’s a constant for just about any generation of parenting.

    Thanks to @PetCobra for steering folks in the direction of this post. It’s a great read.

    Vincent – @CuteMonsterDad

  • Cindy 5.21.2012, 3:22 pm

    As a SAHM, I would like to attest that staying home with your kids pretty much guarantees that said home WON’T be clean. That was also the advice my mother-in-law gave me. She went back to work when her third child was one year old because she couldn’t take hearing my father-in-law complain about how messy it was anymore. :)

    Great article!! Thanks so much for pointing out what should be the obvious.

  • Donna 5.21.2012, 3:35 pm

    I really like the idea of figuring out what’s going on with yourself when you start to judge someone else. It can be very enlightening to do that. This is a really good post–thanks!

  • Michal Levison 5.21.2012, 3:42 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! Parenting is not a competitive sport (though if diaper changing were an Olympic sport, I would be going to London this year, I’m sure). Do what’s right for you and your family. Happy parents make happy kids. Life, in general, and kids, specifically, are hard enough. We don’t need to make this thing called parenthood harder. Let go of the guilt. Do what you can to make your life easier. Then be happy with your choices.

  • Joelleyo 5.21.2012, 4:27 pm

    Love this, and it’s so true. The way I see it, we know we are all different and unique as individuals, why is that this isn’t expected to extend down to the way that we parent. Not everyone is an engineer or a doctor etc., if they were, the world would be in a mess- who would do the other jobs? I believe that each parent is specifically given the heart, the situation, and the skills to parent our children the way that they will best blossom into the people they are supposed to be. Whenever I become judgmental of the way other people parent, or guilty, I do find that it is a moment of weakness. We’re all scared to screw up our kids. But like everything in life we need to stop comparing ourselves to everyone else. Except in that, despite all of our differences…we really all have the same end goals.

  • Karen 5.21.2012, 4:36 pm

    “I know that when I am at peace with myself, I am also at peace with others.”

    That’s it right there. Bingo. And as my daughter is about to turn 10, and we’re on the, “But so-and-so’s mom lets HER read The Hunger Games!” age, I’m much more secure in the decisions that I’ve made that have led me this far. To each her own.

    None of the people I was acquainted with when extended breastfeeding was on our radar are still breastfeeding. None of the people that I knew who co-slept are still co-sleeping with their 10 year old. None of the people I know who battled over cry it out vs. the no cry sleep solution are still battling it out.

  • Kirsty Rice 5.21.2012, 5:37 pm

    Exactly! yes. yes. yes!

    Felt exactly the same. http://shamozal.blogspot.com/2012/03/best-advice.html

  • Michelle twin mum 5.21.2012, 5:47 pm

    Superb post, I like the idea of questionning why something is making me uncomfortable, a lot of learning to be had that way.

    Cheers Mich x

  • Nikki @ Styling You 5.21.2012, 6:50 pm

    Best parenting post I think I’ve ever read. I’ve got teenagers near the end of their school and a Year 1 son. If I’d have spent more time judging other parents and their kids instead of with them they would not have grown into the beautiful individuals they are today. They’re far from perfect but they’re mine.

  • Abby 5.21.2012, 6:52 pm

    The benefit of me teaching High School is that I am reminded (often daily) that I am not raising a baby. I am raising people, who will be teenagers and then adults. Of course the fact that I did not pump at work with the second one simply because she came very soon after the first one and I did not want to is a huge decision in the life of my four month old, she has only had four months. By the time they are freshman no one will care.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 8:18 pm

      “I am not raising a baby.”

      Wow, shouldn’t we all own that t-shirt?

  • Kyran 5.21.2012, 7:17 pm

    I really like that you did this on your own time, on your own terms, and did not link to inflammatory material. As I tweeted last week, I agree with having conversations about child rearing practices and attitudes, but I don’t care to have it at the pleasure (or profit) of carnival barkers. Well done.

  • Always Home and Uncool 5.21.2012, 7:40 pm

    I think you are spot on. Our own insecurities as parents are our worst enemy, and make us loony extremists at times – from free-range to over-attachment. Best advice I every received from another parent was simply: Don’t panic. Kids get fevers, kids get scrapes, kids make mistakes – breathe deep and put everything in perspective. This gets me through dealing with a daughter a mysterious autoimmune disease and a son who (thinks he) knows it all. That and alcohol.

    • Mom101 5.21.2012, 8:17 pm

      But you know? If someone else wants to be a free-range parent or “over” attached, it shouldn’t bother us, right? It doesn’t even have to be loony. It is very possibly a parenting choice based on thoughtful decision-making, even if I don’t agree.

  • Sarah (Sterling Creek Ranch) 5.21.2012, 8:44 pm

    I miss you… I miss this. I have a post saved tonite that I finally wrote (but from my iPad and need to upload a pic and haven’t figured that out yet, but I digress) and so I had exactly 30 minutes while the boys were glued to their one DVRd show a night I let them watch after school/work/commute/dinner/bath/whatever else I can squeeze in and I’m reminded that I love you Liz Gumbinner. From the moment I found you 5 years ago. I’m so glad I did. Best 30 minutes of my past 8 months of insanity. Thank you!

  • Karen 5.21.2012, 9:17 pm

    These are all great points and I do find myself questioning my feelings about an issue in the same way. It does help. What I often ask myself is, will this matter when I’m 80? The answer is always no. When I’m in a nursing home, I’ll have great memories of good times and laughs with a wonderful family. That’s all I want.

  • Annie 5.21.2012, 9:33 pm

    This is getting printed and put up on my bathroom mirror. As a new mother to an almost-five-month-old, I am constantly questioning my choices and actions, and I won’t deny comparing my parenting to other moms. Thanks for the reminder to take a deep breath, don’t worry about anyone else, and enjoy these moments. They will be memories before long.

    • Sarah (Sterling Creek Ranch) 5.21.2012, 10:08 pm

      You’ve found a good place to turn to Annie. Check out Liz’s archives too. She wrote eloquently what it was like on the start of the parenting journey. I almost wish I was where you are now…great memories and never now about what I may have done wrong , but what I did right, Liz just says it all better doesn’t she?! A great mantra is always “this too shall pass” if and when those hard times appear.

  • Hillary 5.22.2012, 7:35 am

    Word.
    Well said. And I agree that it’s due to the Internet that everyone’s choices and opinions are put in front of our faces, bit I don’t blame the Internet. Maybe this is us moving forward and having to learn how to make peace with ourselves in the face of a dozen (and more) choices and opinions.

    In the 80s my mom didn’t have mommy wars, but she was also wildly uninformed, listened to her OB (no choices there folks) and pede like they were gods and didn’t know one mom who even considered breastfeeding. It can be tough facing everyone’s decisions and philosophies, but I’ll take access to options, ideas and information any day.

    And I think us moms will be better for walking through this and figuring out for ourselves that we need to make peace with our own decisions.

  • tarab620 5.22.2012, 9:24 am

    I find I most commonly get judgey about other parents’ rearing processes when the actions of their child hurt my kids in one way or another. Like the neighborhood kid who sends my kids home in tears pretty much every day, either through actions or words, or the second grader who made a ‘trade’ with my kindergartener which left him minus two new birthday toys. I get judgey when a parent hasn’t taught their kid (after a certain age, of course) about fairness, treating others well, and that they may not, actually, be the center of the universe…

    • Mom101 5.22.2012, 10:48 am

      I think that’s less about judgment and more about ethics and generally accepted values, right? I mean in no world is bullying okay. It’s not to say the kids were raised wrong either; I know amazing parents who are devastated to find out their child is a meanie.

  • As from now on ‘Will this matter in five years’ will be my standard answer when someone questions my parenting. Although I bet there will be some b**** who will answer ‘yes because so and so…’

    • Mom101 5.22.2012, 10:47 am

      If she holds onto that stuff for five years well then, man. She’s the one with the problem!

  • Marija 5.22.2012, 11:12 am

    I’m reminded every single day that picking “right choices” does not matter much: we have to remind ourselves that we are not BRINGING up kids, we are merely following them.
    I happen to have two kids 2,5 years apart that have very, very different temperament. And I have made same choices in all “important” departments (like breastfeeding, cry-out/co-sleeping/do nothing, what kind of pre-school and when, what kind of school and when…) and they still are turning out wildly different in their personalities and life outlooks.
    I am reminded daily that although I should make concious choices for important (limited number of important) decisions, I don’t have full control over my kids. Somehow, it seems that judging this and that option comes from the illusion that we are the ultimate force in our kids lives. And that only way to pass values is to live them and ooze them yourself every day, every second. Then all women will still be staying at home, because (historically) their mothers raised them while staying home. And nobody without noble blood would finish university, as that was not a common value 200 years ago. And ALL of us will still be homophobes. As if parent’s opinion matters THAT much in kid’s life once grown up. As every teenager will blatantly spell it out for you (or anybody), I’m not the boss of them. I’m just grateful I get to follow them as long as they let me.

    I do get judgemental myself when someone starts judging my choices and “coaches” me on proper ones – I immediately think: “and WHO you think you are to tell me this, since you are (insert whatever inconsistency you can think of)” But I keep it in me. And then vent to my husband. And he nods and says “Yes, darling” in distant voice like in those old Tom and Jerry cartoons. And that is what should be my reaction from beginning. He is so much wiser.

  • leanne 5.22.2012, 2:06 pm

    An excellent way to end the mommy wars. Well done, Liz.

  • Eva 5.22.2012, 8:35 pm

    You are brilliant. I am proud to call you a friend, okay, and a boss. :)

  • Amy Sue Nathan 5.22.2012, 8:38 pm

    You are so freaking smart, Liz. It’s pretty much an honor to view the parenting of young kids through your eyes. I miss those days, and wish I was as in-tune as you when I was in them.

    • Mom101 5.22.2012, 9:06 pm

      I bet, Amy, that I will one day have kids your kids’ ages and look back and think I knew nothing then. I bet you were more in-tune than you think, knowing you.

  • Jenny From the Blog 5.22.2012, 8:41 pm

    I recently learned (because I had to figure out how to deal with comments that lambasted my mothering choices, my “extreme” love for my children and my sense of humor having too much honesty ie. I need therapy), that people’s judgements and rants and unkind words are an extension of their own issues. Their own short comings or angst over their own choices. The War is as you said, within ourselves, thought it takes some serious tongue biting to keep it there sometimes. Great piece.

  • Chrysula 5.22.2012, 9:16 pm

    When we are raising our kids armed with the best knowledge we can scrounge, informed by the values we hold truest, and as you wisely say — secure that whilst we’re not doing it perfectly, we’re at least doing it to the best of our ability — we simply don’t have time (let alone energy) to judge. We’re too busy on that “raising” part.

    Brava Liz.

  • Denise 5.22.2012, 9:22 pm

    this is so good, Liz, and so smart.

    I started out in the magazine biz at Child, in the late 80s, in the thirtysomething, navel-gazing years. (thirtysomething the TV show, that is; I was all of 22). I remember the mommy wars even then. I remember that show (so, so well; it was required viewing) and how the characters, mirroring the thirtysomething boomer parents of real life, spent all their time wondering and worrying and navel-gazing about parenting. I remember telling all this to my mother, and her saying, after a puzzled pause, “your generation thinks way too much.”

    Aside from the micro-focus on parenting, out in the open, for the past 20 or 25 years, there has also been a bona-fide backlash war on women generally. Which is why these persistent wars have so much traction in media (and “media”) outlets. It’s a distraction. No matter what we do we are pitted against one another while our rights get slowly eroded.

    Anyway. Fantastic and honest post.

    Denise

  • Sarah 5.22.2012, 11:16 pm

    Wow. Awesome post. I’ve been thinking about these so called wars a lot lately too and why we as parents are so quick to judge and why the media is so quick to pounce on the natural doubt that arises from the bazillion choices a parent has to make each day. If we work under the assumption that we all are doing what we feel is right for our own individual kids, how can we possibly be at war with each other? I think people are afraid of the doubt that naturally arises from parenting and the media is totally not afraid to use that doubt to their benefit.

  • Nila 5.23.2012, 2:50 am

    You are so right with this post! As a mom of a 13 and 15 year old, I can say that most of it doesn’t matter in 5 years. Your mom is very wise. I also have a 3 year old and I’ve had the most fun with him. After seeing how well my older boys have turned out, despite the fact that I didn’t breast feed, free range roam or whatever crap I was supposed to do, they’re doing pretty damn good if I do say so myself. They’re good guys and that’s all that matters to me. I think the most important thing is to raise good citizens and no amount of breast milk or baby wearing will make a difference. Those things do not guarantee that your kid won’t grow up to be a total jerk.

    We all just need to chill. It’s hard enough just being Mom.

  • tracy@sellabitmum 5.23.2012, 6:44 am

    One of my dearest friends taught me this lesson as she is exactly five years further in her mothering career. I’m so glad as it’s kept so much grief, second guessing and worry off of my shoulders so I can just be present in the now. And it’s much better to surround yourself with friends who just enjoy wine and dreaming about big ideas than it is surrounding yourself with people who just talk about the could have beens and the she’s doing it wrongs.

    Love how you spoke to this. xo

  • Carrie Ingram 5.23.2012, 8:20 am

    Thank you for this. This was calming and reassuring for me as a mother of a 11 month old. I don’t have a clue what I am doing and constantly feel as if I am being judged. Thank you…I will surely pass this along!

  • Jen Singer 5.23.2012, 8:57 am

    Now that my kids are teenagers, I can look back at all the anguish I put myself through when they were little and honestly say — it was all worth it.

    Yes, you heard me. (Or read me.)

    All the hand-wringing over whether to put my son in junior kindergarten.
    All the worry over whether they had enough time to play.
    All the agonizing over my picky eater’s definition of the 4 food groups: apple juice, Girl Scout cookies, chicken nuggets and anything shaped like Elmo’s head.

    What’s this you say? It was worth it? Yes, and here’s why:

    When they were in elementary school, I got cancer. I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be. And yet, my kids turned out okay. I’d frontloaded the worry and got over it when I truly had something to worry about — whether I’d be here to see them grow up.

    So allow yourself some of that worry, but know this: You’re a good mom. All of you. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • Mom101 5.23.2012, 12:23 pm

      Oh Jen, I couldn’t agree more. (Especially from the author of You’re a Good Mom…!)

      I think worrying about our kids is amazing. I think worrying about other people’s kids, or other people’s parenting skills is a total waste of energy. And I think wondering if our choices are superior to the choices of others–also big honkin’ waste of energy. Thanks for this excellent reminder. And we’re all glad you’re getting to see your kids grow up.

  • Corey Feldman 5.23.2012, 11:29 am

    It’s human nature to judge. Were social creatures and have to make constant assessments. What I try an do with my beliefs and/or biases is recognize them, think of about them critically and try to look for reasons I may need to reevaluate.

  • Deanna 5.23.2012, 2:56 pm

    BRAVO!

  • Marta 5.23.2012, 6:13 pm

    Liz, as always I think you’re brilliant. Every bolded point you made was spot on. No, absolutely not are you thinking about those things looking through five years of photographs.

    I’m not entirely convinced that mommy wars are entirely in our own heads as conflicts within ourselves. I liken it to the marriage equality debate. Both sides have very strong opinions and while its my belief that your belief shouldn’t influence me unfortunately some people believe it should. Some people believe that you should stay at home with your kids and breastfeed them and make them organic carrots your grew in your own yard and pureed in your mouth. And the stronger someone believes in their own belief often the more at war they’re going to be with everyone who disagrees.

    I think mommy wars exist. I’m sure they’re riled up by publishers trying to get more hits and views, but if people weren’t so keen on imposing their beliefs on other people well then there would be nothing to rile up.

    • Mom101 5.23.2012, 7:05 pm

      I think we’re agreeing Marta. My point is simply that if you feel angry about someone else not pureeing her baby’s carrots, you really need to look within yourself and figure out why that, of all things, is what you wan to devote your limited energy to.

      If that’s truly your value system I get it. You’re worried about the health of babies. But then, go higher. Work on getting fresher produce to communities that don’t have it, or standardizing organic labeling. Start a petition to increase subsidies to organic farmers so more people can afford it. Work to get rid of the loopholes for pesticide use in organic farms. Support parents in making that choice. Don’t shame or shun or condemn the ones who don’t. That’s useless, really. And it doesn’t change a thing, except making people hate you.

  • Rachel 5.23.2012, 9:30 pm

    Thanks Liz. Lately I am very judgey of Henry – because he graciously is taking over roles that I normally would do in an effort to help ME achieve my goals. However, I seem to be very critical – and here it is in your post –> it is me that I am insecure about. Judging myself, feeling guilty for missing the parent meeting on the overnight trip to Gettysburg or the orthodontist … YET, in 5 years it really will not matter.
    Actually, it doesn’t even matter today.

  • Tzena Sarandeva 5.23.2012, 10:19 pm

    This is a 5 minutes video interview which trymps all arguments for forced domesticity. Please do watch it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/science/insights-in-human-knowledge-from-the-minds-of-babes.html?pagewanted=all

    • Mom101 5.24.2012, 6:47 am

      That’s a little inflammatory, don’t you think? “Forced domesticity?” I don’t think any choice has to be right or wrong–only right for you. For this woman, science was right for her.

      • Tzena Sarandeva 5.24.2012, 9:45 pm

        Agreed. “Forced domesticity” is forced, indeed.

        My comment was somewhat accidental and apropos of nothing. I was reading an article in the New Yorker about artificial intelligence. The article linked to this psychologist’s interview and I found myself envious and smitten by how deceitfully easy these disparate lives clicked in her case. That’s all.

  • Ciaran 6.06.2012, 11:37 pm

    I hit a parenting stride when my oldest kids were 5-10 but I’m back in a parenting fog again. Not insecure so much as worried about the stuff I know I’m not seeing clearly. I definitely don’t look back and question all the little decisions like whether I signed up my daughter for gymnastics at a young enough age and whether her big sister should have been allowed to stay up half an hour later than her. I don’t have to hand wring since my wise, clever tween/teen girls have my last nerve on speed dial. They love to pontificate on my parenting decisions, compare their experiences to that of their peers, and occasionally offer me parenting tips on how I can avoid screwing up the two younger two kids. I imagine when they are in their 20’s I’ll hit my teen parenting stride. I really can’t wait. I’d like to stop flogging myself over whether I should have let them have a tumblr and whether it was a bad idea to pull them out of school for a family vacation last fall. Also, then they can tell their therapists what a bad mom I was not to have pushed them & been a Dance Mom. Hopefully she won’t laugh at them like I did, while secretly worrying that if I had done that, maybe they’d be happier today.

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