I have been a mom for almost 4 years now. When I joined this amazing club of motherhood, my kids certainly put me through the paces, but I was never hazed by other mothers.
Yes, I feel like I earned my stripes and stretch marks and put in my middle of the night hours. I have struggled through potty training and toddler years and that has earned me a place among other parents. I feel like I belong, not like I am at war.
In fact, never once in the past four years have I felt “at war” with other moms.
So what is going on here? Where is this “mommy war”?
There are so many things I dislike about this commercial that circulated a while ago, chiefly that it perpetuates some myth about motherhood in an effort to manipulate me into buying things. But I am starting to wonder if it isn’t just perpetuating the mommy wars myth, but actually inventing it.
It is like when kids watch commercials for toys they never knew existed and decide they Must. Have. It. Except it plays on the self-esteem of mothers. Although I baby-wear I have never felt like a mom pushing a stroller is judging me (nor I her). I have not escaped judgment completely and I wrote about that here, but I realize that I have never felt judged by a peer parent. Another parent would never call a fellow parent “just a mom.”
Telling moms that they aren’t good enough (and claiming that judgment comes from other moms) is a great way to keep them engaged in the consumer cycle of “self-improvement.” A formula for your fears, a stroller for your sorrows, a gizmo for your guilt. But really we know that gear doesn’t make the parent, and moreover the pressure to be a better parent has never come from other parents. In fact, when I am feeling fear, sorrow or guilt, I have learned to turn to other mothers for support, the very mothers who apparently are my enemies on the baby battlefield. I have called mom friends in between conference calls and on commutes and received mayday calls in return during naptime and on the playground. We help each other make it work because that is what parenting is all about.
I don’t have to try very hard not to be a sancti-mommy, even about the issues that are the most important to me . If I can keep my judgments in check about my most important values, I think it is about time we call bullshit on the “mommy wars.” We don’t even need to wave the white burp cloth, because we were never at war to begin with.