The Mommy Wars

*I will be climbing onto my soapbox now. Please ignore the child playing with a plastic bag behind ruins the effect.*

A friend recently asked me if I ever feel the need to play up my image on my blog. I thought about it rather quickly and answered no. I mean, we ALL play ourselves up to some extent. We choose what we write about, after all, we straighten shirts and clean faces before snapping a picture. But I've never really felt overly stressed about it, read and reread posts wondering what I "seem like" from the outside, or decided not to write something because of the way it will make me look. I suppose its because this blog, when you get down to it, is for me. I love that a few people read it, and that a few comment. But I would be writing it even if no one ever did, because this blog is for ME, not you.

It's basically just a way for me to use up all my leftover words at the end of a day, that and to write, which has always been a passion of mine. Josh jokes that I have a physical need to get out so many words (somewhere near a million) every day. On days when I've been home alone with Zeke he says "You have a lot of words left today don't you?" This comment usually comes after a good solid 45 minutes of me not breathing I'm talking so fast.

But Kim's question got me thinking, because I really understand the need to play up your image a bit in the Mommy-blog world. Hell, I think there's an awful lot of it going on in the plain MOMMY world. The Mommy Wars are a very real thing, that play to some extent in all of our lives, and they aren't going to go anywhere soon. I wish they WOULD but I'm not sure if, as women, as HUMANS, we are quite ready to do away with them...or that we ever will be.

My husband would just make remarks on the inherent evil and judgmental natures of women. He's a bit of a pessimist, that man of mine. But as a person that strives to look on the bright side of human nature, and almost NEEDS to defend, I try to look at it a little more fairly. And I've decided that I think the root of the Wars is that these questions we fight and judge each other over; to work or to stay at home, to breastfeed or to bottle feed and for how long, co-sleeping, crying it out, spanking, the list could go on forever but none of these issues actually have a RIGHT and a WRONG. And we all know it. So no matter which way we personally decide to go, we feel guilt. Guilt is pretty much the dressing of motherhood.

I stay home with Zeke, but then I feel not only envious of the mothers that get these whole separate lives from their children, but I also feel guilty that I'm not using my time at home to my fullest, that I'm lazy basically, and that I'm not contributing to my family or my society as a whole. I also wonder if I'm getting boring, if I'm getting stupider, and if I will have anything left when Zeke goes to kindergarten, let alone to college. I could go out and work, sure. Or even better, go to school, which is a desire so strong I can literally taste it at times. But then I'd just feel envious of the mothers that get to stay home and see every moment of their child's developmental years, and guilty for the time I spend away.

Its like this with almost every issue. Josh and I decided not to cry it out. Which, as all non-cry-it-outers can attest to, results in quite a bit of cosleeping with your toddler. I know that Josh and I have both felt ashamed/annoyed/guilty that our 1 year old has almost never spent an entire night in his crib. We've wondered if we are spoiling him. We've wondered if, in the end, we are actually disrupting his sleep more than helping. We've wondered if the exhaustion might cause us to kill one of our children when, in January, we have TWO children waking us up every night. But (and I suppose I dont have any proof so take this with a grain of salt) I imagine that people that decide to cry it out with their kids ALSO have doubts. They might wonder if they are being selfish to leave their child crying, if they are going to cause life-long bad sleep associations and habits, ect. They might feel just as ashamed that they couldnt "stick it out" until their kid learned to sleep as Josh and I feel at the fact that we couldnt "stick it out" and let Zeke cry for us without being answered.

The biggest guilt inducer for me is the fact that I weaned at 11 months. I had hoped to breastfeed until 2 and to have my milk run dry so "early" has constantly bothered me. I think about it every time I see a happily nursing toddler, heck, I think about it whenever Zeke prefers Josh over me (which i pretend is because I have failed him in some way, and not because Josh is an amazing daddy and around to play with a lot less than this boring mama). And this is actually a great example of the widespread nature of mommy guilt because I'm pretty sure everyone feels guilty no matter WHEN they wean. Be it 6 weeks or 6 years, there's the guilt. And if you go past 6 months you get to add the guilt for breastfeeding SO LONG, which people will be sure to make you feel.

And all this guilt we feel? All this envy of other people that went the other way and surely must have it better? It turns into judgment. And boy howdy is it strong. We doubt ourselves and to cover it up we push everyone we know is "worse" down. You can also see this tendancy in any middle school cafeteria. But the thing is, it just makes everyone feel worse. You arent a better mother because Cathy is a worse one. But Cathy is sure going to feel like shit, and probably so do you.

We all contribute. We all judge each other too harshly, myself included. Which just leads to judgeing ourselves too harshly. And the desire to "spruce up" our image online. And even though I dont think it can stop, I am going to commit to stopping it in my own life.

So here is me, not judging you.

And also here I am assuring you that I am in no way a perfect mother.

My son was literally playing with a plastic bag while I typed this. Yep, I'm blogging while he's not only awake but playing with dangerous objects.

As much as I write about Healthy Eating, I bought and finished off an entire bag of pizza pockets by myself in a little over a week. A family sized bag. I also ate jelly bellies for breakfast yesterday and almost NEVER buy organic foods (honestly I have my doubts about the superior health of your average store-bought organics, which still travel thousands of miles and are farmed en masse. Healthier for the environment, definitely, for me....maybe? I think local is going to be your actual best bet, which is luckily also cheaper.)

As much as I diss families who dont eat dinner together every night and wonder why they dont cherish the family time as much as Josh and I do, well Zeke and I usually eat breakfast side by side, him in front of his food and me in front of my laptop.

Zeke watches TV regularly, spends many days just in his diaper, and gets copious amounts of candy on long car rids.

I am just a mom.


Trippleaaa said...

Well said! I love how open and frank you always are about things. This has made me think, a lot, anout the way I feel about my own self and others. Even if you can pin point your faults (which I certainly can) I find it hard to stop. Anyways, once again well said!

Bullfrogs & Butterflies Baby said...

Applause, applause!

Flory said...

I think you have a normal outlook on parenthood.

As far as judging others go, I try to remind myself that by judging others I am showing who I am.

Honest post!

Kim said...

I love this post! I HATE reading the blogs that are so above and beyond realistic parenting, especially when you know first hand that it's all a front. At the end of the day it doesn't make me want to keep reading it, it just makes me feel like I don't measure up. Not that you haven't heard me complain about that over and over again! Which is why I LOVE your blog so much. Even though we have different ideas on different things, I never walk away from your blog wondering why I read continue to read. It's the first blog I click on when I open up my reader and one that can make me both laugh and think. Part of following a person's blog is being able to see the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly of their life. Not to paint a pretty picture!

How weird I also craved Pizza Pockets while I was preggo with Preston!

PS. Who gives their kids candy on a car ride?! Pshh. That's horrible! lol

Mama Daggett said...

I love you, I love your blog, I love your honest! You are so inspiring. Seriously I am all choked up after reading this!
I am sooo guilty of being a guilty mom. Example: I am sick today. I cannot completely identify my ailments except I have a tummy ache and I am extremely tired. I was determined last night before going to bed to get through some of sister's school work with her today, exercise, get back on a healthy diet and get back to my routine.
Instead, we had chocolate cereal for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch, pizza for dinner, I sat right here on this couch most of the day watching TV on line (we don't have cable) telling the kiddos to either watch with me or go play quietly. Now I am blogging and they are outside watering with Daddy.
I have felt guilty today for *not doing school *not eating healthy *for being sick *for resting *for napping *for not interacting with my kiddos are much as I should * and now 'cause they are all outside and I am not. UGH!
However, "For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7 Although we aren't perfect exactly like we want to be 100% of the time. God knows our intentions, He knows our hearts and thats what we shall be judge for.

Jess to the Lo said...

Well said!

Kait T said...

I totally agree that everyone has guilt about everything but as usual think you're totally wrong about cry it out. The whole purpose of cry it out is to teach your children to fall asleep on their own without you. It doesn't take longer than ONE week if you're consistent. I have never felt guilt over making my kids for cry for less than an hour when I know the only reason they're crying is because they're tired. We are hardly ever woken up at night and I do think they sleep better and wake up refreshed because they just fall back asleep if they're still tired.
It's not like I sit out their door laughing. If their crying escalates I go in and find out whats wrong. as it's proven in my children anyway bedtime is not a big struggle and it takes them usually 5 to 10 minutes to fall asleep - usually happily. They love bed time.
But heck yes about everything else. ;) I just had to throw that in.

Jennifer said...

I think that is what we all are, just mom's. This is one reason that I like you. You do a lot of things differently than me (like staying at home), but some things the same (like co-sleeping). I think these are the kind of moms that we learn from. The ones that are different, the ones that have another perspective. I don't want to sit around and listen to people that do things exactly they way I do. How will I ever learn how to be better?

I totally do not get mommy judgement, that is judging other mothers, because I judge myself all the time. If we could all just put our differences aside we could learn so much. Think how much our kids would benefit.

Jennspiration said...

Courtney, you said this so well. Just today I was thinking how jealous of mom's that get to stay at home and not have to juggle a family and work. But then I remembered how much I envied those moms who work when I WAS staying home for 4 years. I am fortunate that I have had the chance to have the "best of both worlds" so to speak as I get to experience both. I still can't say which one is better than the other...but I do know that I had an aweful day at work and when I got home and saw my kids' smiling faces, it makes it all better!