I never thought that my Facebook page would become a battlefield for the Mommy Wars. Over the last two days it’s really made me question whether it’s ‘only’ Facebook or if there’s more to all of this lack of understanding and respect.
It seems to have begun when a friend and fellow mother, recently posted, on her page:
”I can’t believe they made breastfeeding until a child is 2 a law. I breastfed both of my babies but I feel once they can walk up and feed themselves off of it is a sign it’s time to quite. Gross.”
When I read this I didn’t respond. It was on her page, I didn’t feel it was directed towards me, and further I really didn’t want to get into it. This statement reeks of intolerance and ignorance, and while it certainly is an opinion it’s also a judgement. I am well aware of the misconceptions and lack of information that many have about breastfeeding and particularly extended breastfeeding, but I wouldn’t have expected this from this parent.
A few days later, someone posted ’8 Things NOT to Say to an Extended Breastfeeding Mom‘ in our local breastfeeding FB group, and I knew I had to share it. It answered with humor and information the hurt and frustration I felt over breastfeeding being called ‘gross’.
I knew several people, fellow La Leche League mamas, members of my tribe of like-minded friends and family, would absolutely adore it. I didn’t think people, particularly mothers who breastfed their own children, would be so utterly offended by it.
That thread on my FB timeline literally exploded with so much ridiculousness when this particular mother wanted to defend her ‘opinion’ that breastfeeding was ‘gross’. Ummmmm, huh?
She repeatedly attempted to make the point that breastfeeding being ‘gross’ is her ‘opinion’ and that she’s able to say so because of ‘freedom of speech’.
And further she went on to say, on her own page, how I (or others on my page defending me perhaps) were:
“insecure in their decisions and lashing out”
There is no insecurity in my decision. There was no lashing out. There was only an unwillingness to accept that ‘gross’ is an valid ‘opinion’. “It’s not for me” that’s an opinion. “Gross” judges my choice as being something that is by definition unpleasant or replusive. And while I welcome a conversation or debate of ideas, I do not welcome insults.
But here’s the thing. And it’s been bothering me (and many others) for some time now.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT A BLANKET LICENSE TO SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE.
HONESTY DOES NOT EXCUSE RUDENESS.
OPINION IS NOT THE SAME AS JUDGEMENT.
Whew. Feels good to get that out there. Many people, particularly online, have this idea that whatever they say is shrouded in this fog of ‘Internet Honesty’. Really people? As if the text on the phone or computer screen insulates one’s words from inflicting hurt or injured feelings. Ummmmm, no. It doesn’t.
It seems every time people get upset about things written online the knee jerk reaction is “you can’t read tone online” or “it’s hard to understand intention in text”. Ummmmm, no, it’s not that hard. The context is there. While many people talk out of their necks online and don’t think before they type it doesn’t mean tone isn’t implied. I think people get caught up throwing tone because they are shrouded by their computer and feel they don’t have to be responsible for what they say. Ummmmm, nope. You’re still responsible whether you call someone a name to their face or to their online face.
Another case in point? See if you can taste the sarcasm dripping from this comment, in reference to me, in response to the same post about Extended Breastfeeding.
“Tired of hearing about your kids and your boobs, super mom. Yes, they can be too old to freaking tit feed. Done!”
Yes, that was said. Really. Apparently being a Supermom is just a really sarcastic way of saying I’m what exactly? I’m full of myself and my awesome milk-makers? Too proud of how stunning my children are? Too sure the way I do things is the only right way?
You know at first I was super offended. I was pissed. And a further comment in that thread spoke to some sort of underlying animosity or anger towards the way I parent, or perhaps the sharing of that parenting with my people on Facebook.
“So then mothers should be waiting for their kids in the school cafeteria at lunchtime, tit ready? I’m not against breastfeeding. I did it, like a bazillion women before me I just didn’t need the world to constantly know to prove I’m a good mother.”
This hurt more than anything else. It felt like a direct hit, like somehow in posting about my life being a mother I am in search of validation for my choices. That my choice to breastfeed, was less about what’s best for my children and more about proving what good parent I am. Bitch, please.
Clearly neither of these people truly know me, nor I them, but these incidents really made me think. In fact these people did me a great service. They made me see that when it comes to how I want to conduct myself and who I want to know and be around, those that are judgmental, argumentative or hateful have no room in my world.
Let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody got time for rude people and haters.
See many of us, particularly Stay At Home Mom’s, rely on Facebook and social media, not for validation but for socialization. We look for commiseration and support. We share photos and videos with family and friends around the world. A lot of times we look for information and answers to questions, even our daily news through these social media outlets.
If that’s not how another goes about their daily life, that’s ok, that’s their life, their choice, their own relationship with the interwebs. But instead of insulting my online behavior just do everyone a favor. Unfriend me. Block me. Don’t follow my blog. Just go away.
And that’s where the Mommy Wars come back to rear it’s ugly head.
It seems that by posting pictures and anecdotes about my family and our life I irritate or offend some people (same goes for my single friends that bitch about seeing pictures of everyone’s kids…they can block me too). As if my posts reflect some unattainably high standards by which all mothers should be measured. As if because we have different ways of parenting or different ways of sharing our lives with others that one is inherently better than the other. The assumption being that one is superior for not sharing their life online. Or that I share about my parenting choices because I think they are the ‘right’ or ‘better’ choices.
HA! To know me is to know that I am an information junkie. I research the hell out of everything from TV shows to food to parenting. Yes, I think long and hard about how I parent and the choices we make for our family. In my opinion, the most important decisions I will make in my life are the choices about how I raise my children and so I do so very consciously and thoughtfully.
This doesn’t imply anything about others choices. I am friends with parents of all different kinds. Formula or breast, cry-it-out or co-sleep, strollers or woven wraps and everything in between. And you know what? I love them all. It’s not a contest. It is a journey. One that is unique to every individual family. I respect your choice because it is yours.
This doesn’t make me a saint. This doesn’t make me better. This is who I am because this is who I want my children to grow up to be. I don’t want to condemn your choices because I want my children to know that different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. I want my children to know that calling names when someone is different isn’t okay. It’s intolerance. And that being a part of this world means loving and being with those that we may not always agree with.
So while I may internally cringe if I see you putting Grape Pop inside your 3 month old’s bottle, I would never say anything to you. It’s not my place to do so. If you asked me about it, I would gladly have a conversation with you and share with you why that wouldn’t be my choice. But I will not call you gross. I will not insult you. I will save my judgment and respect you as a parent trying to do what’s best for yourself and your family.
So when I post something about breastfeeding or babywearing or gentle parenting it’s not to criticize your choices, it’s to offer information for someone else who may be struggling or looking for help. And often times it is as educational for me as it would be for anyone else.
I don’t need my choices justified. I can look at my amazing children and know that I’ve made the right choices. I share because maybe there’s an old friend from elementary school who can benefit from learning more about breastfeeding. Perhaps the wife of my husband’s friend didn’t know how many options there were in baby carriers until she saw something I posted. Maybe there’s a friend who just began staying at home with her kids and needs ideas of some activities or crafts to do with them.
From the numbers alone, those that ‘like’ my pictures, comment on my status updates and share my posts, I am doing something right. And for the countless comments and messages I’ve received from old friends, online friends, local mamas and those that live far away, thanking me for helping them through one parenting issue or another, I don’t regret a single post.
Because you know what? I AM Supermom. And you know what? So are YOU.
For doing what we do to make our families work and raise happy and healthy kids, however we choose to do that, we are ALL Supermoms.
So let’s stop passing judgment and start giving each other the compassion that we all, as mothers, deserve. We’re not on different teams. We just have different ways of playing the game. K?
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