I’m just going to go ahead and start off today the right way, by telling you about one thing that grates my nerves. This is obviously a very “#firstworld” problem, if you will grant me the use of this super insensitive hashtag (which I also find annoying en masse). If you think this blog entry is about you, I can almost guarantee you it’s not. If you’re easily offended, please stop here. If you continue on and are offended, I’m sorry in advance. Let’s still be friends.
I’ve been reading a few blogs lately that I can’t agree with more (It’s a Dog Lick Baby World, Chocolate is My Life, Cheaper Than Therapy, etc.) about the concept of “Mommy Wars.” I know a lot of friends and Facebook people (also friendsy?) who are having babies right now, many of them for the first time; and a lot of them are worried about being judged. There’s guilt about having kids before you even conceive (which is another reason I’m sticking with animals… that, and the part where kids turn into teenagers). Why are we putting this kind of pressure on moms and ourselves?
I can’t say I’ve experienced this for myself (obviously), but I think a lot of it is perpetuated by 1. the media, 2. the internet, 3. stupid people. The media wants to increase clicks, and likes, and shares. So when they post stupid articles with ridiculous headlines, “Celebrity holds baby upside-down by one leg for entire photography shoot,” we’ll all click to see the pictures, share it with our friends and say, “OMG, Celebrity FamousPerson is a turrible parent!” Then we’ll all comment on the Facebook story and say, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Or they’ll take a tiny glimpse of a story and blow it out of proportion. Like the lady who tweeted Delta about breastfeeding. The majority of the time, it seems like people are just stupid/don’t know to respond and are not biased against you and your particular hangup. Plenty of moms I know breastfeed and pump, and they just go do their thing where they can and it’s over. They’re not like, “You WOULD NOT believe the people who are judging me for feeding my baby.” Because no one is. We’re all adults here.
A new mom I follow on Instagram posted this weekend about how awkward it was that no one was making eye contact with her while she breastfed. I’m sure that made her feel like a lonely outcast, but I attribute the whole situation to everyone halfway acknowledging what’s going and not wanting to be the bad guy. Just like when someone farts in a crowded room. Everyone knows what happened, but no one is going to be the person to be like… “THIS HAPPENED!”
The average (read: non-famous, non-ruckus-causing) mom doesn’t want to be that person who is sitting on a bench breastfeeding and acts aggressively toward every passerby. “YEAH! That’s right. Feeding my baby! Got something to say about it? Come at me, bro!” But every passerby doesn’t know what kind of mom that breastfeeding mom is, so they don’t know if it’s appropriate or not to make eye contact. If they do, they don’t know how long is too long. Will the mom think I’m a creeper trying to sneak a peak? And, if you dare, should you comment? What do you say in those situations? No one should be ashamed to feed her baby in public, but because of all this media hoopla, we passersby don’t want to be the next Delta to get our shit handed to us when we just don’t know what to do in that situation.
Facebook helps, too, since we’re all awesome through the Facebook filter. On Facebook, I eat healthy, exercise a lot, read brain-enhancing articles, fight for the little guy, etc. In real life, I eat a bunch of junk food and am lazy while I read smut articles about celebrities mistreating their poor, unloved children, and do nothing about it.
Along the same lines as the Moms vs. Moms warz, there seems to be this moms vs. non-moms war that I was unaware also existed. This is absolutely not the case for everyone I know, and I’m sure moms vs, kidless women is a response to the issue discussed in the previous paragraphs (thanks, gossip magz). We non-parents get that you like to post pictures and videos of your kids on Facebook and Instagram, and (speaking for myself and the people I’ve talked with), we’re totally fine with it. Just because I don’t want kids right now (or maybe ever) doesn’t mean I don’t recognize a cute baby when I see one, think it’s also hilarious that your kid makes fart sounds on purpose and laughs at it, or appreciate that you grew that inside you and pushed/had it cut out (ouch times a million).
You’re totally awesome for that. But playing the “If you don’t like it, get over it. You’ll never know a love this strong.” card is just plain rude.
Firstly, you don’t know me. And you don’t know the people who see that. Imagine if you had been trying for a baby forever but it just wasn’t happening and you read that. “You’ll never know this kind of love!” Ouch.
Secondly, just because I don’t have a kid doesn’t mean I don’t know what love is (Jenny). Sure, I didn’t push a bowling ball out of a bagel-sized cervix, but I’ve been loved and have loved in return. I have loved something/one so much that I would do anything for it/that person. I get that you have an emotional bond that I’ll never understand, but I probably have one or two of those that you’ll never understand as well. This isn’t an emotional bond competition. By acting like it is, you’re perpetuating the media mom wars. So cut it out and let’s all just be happy for the choices we’ve made and the peoples/things we love.
Thirdly, the next time I see one of those posts, I’m going to copy and paste it word-for-word and post it on my social media accounts with a picture of all my cats in onesies. That’s how logical the love-competition sentiment seems to me.
Similarly, I’ve seen a lot of people share articles with headlines like, “Why it’s ok to be childless” or “What to say to people when they say, ‘You Need Kids ASAP’” or “I don’t want to have kids, lay off my case!” or “The benefits of choosing a barren womb.” Are these really necessary? Again, think of all those people who would LOVE to have kids but can’t. Flaunting your choice to ignore fertility is like throwing away $100 bills while people in poverty are forced to watch. This is also known as the “Be happy with what you have and STFU” principle.
When we post articles like this (yes, we, I’m sure I’ve done it), we’re essentially saying, “Look, social media. I’m making life choices on purpose.” Pretty much everyone I know is aware that I feel nowhere near prepared enough to take care of another small, needy human. I don’t need to shove articles in their faces as to why. Could you imagine if there were articles written like that in the other direction? “Why I stand behind my decision to have kids!” No one would read that. Well, moms probably would to get away from the other articles.
All in all, the main point of this long-ass rambling blog post was to say, as women–childless or childful–we’ve been pawns of the media creating these imaginary wars between us forever. Whether or not we should vote (thanks, Ann Coulter), whether or not we should work outside the home, whether or not we should be having kids, whether or not we should breastfeed our kids in public or cover up, etc. Let’s just all work to support each other in our own personal choices, not judge, and create differences where we don’t need to. Why can’t we be friends? Why can’t we be friends?
If you’re a mom, please tell us what we’re supposed to do in every situation that has the potential to be awkward for you. If you’re a non-mom, have you experienced the mom vs non-mom wars? What do you do?