Thursday, 4 October 2012
The Mummy Wars
When I first became pregnant I thought that my biggest battle was going to be trying to loose the weight I had gained and stop eating quite so much cake. I was wrong...
What I didn't know then was that when you become a mother you seem to unwittingly enter the mummy wars. Everything you do with your child and all your choices are somehow judged whether on an individual level, by the media or by society as a whole. Also, if I'm being honest, you seem to become much more judgemental of others and I confess that I am also slightly oversensitive to any criticism of my parenting - perceived or real!
When people have children they seem to become somewhat zealous about their parenting choices to the exclusion of all others and the issues become very black and white. I do have strong views on aspects of how I raise my child but I would never try and force these on someone else as I am firmly of the opinion that all families are different and have different situations to deal with. For example I have never done controlled crying with my children but I can definitely understand how some parents (especially those that need to work) do try this and as far as I am concerned if it works for them then that's fine. I don't expect everyone to capitulate to my "will". The same goes for breastfeeding. I did breastfeed but I also used formula, to me they are both valid choices.
I think the media really enjoys ramping up the mummy wars. If you are pro-breastfeeding they nickname you the "breastapo!" and of course they love nothing better than a good old "should mothers work or stay at home?". Unfortunately in the Kafkaesque world of these parenting battles you can never win. If you are a working mother you will be criticised for leaving your child, told about the dangers of daycare and asked why you even bothered having children...but if you are a stay at home mother you will be accused of being lazy, living off your husband and setting a bad example for your children and not teaching them about being independent. It seems like there will never be a winner then.
So why does motherhood seem to be such a battle? I think personally it's because we have been told that we can have it all when actually we can't. As with anything in life there are choices and sacrifices that have to be made when you become a mum, and yet society constantly bombards us with criticism and parenting gurus spring from the woodwork left, right and centre telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing. These pressures combine to make mothers often feel like failures. Maybe one way of coping with this is that we do become more defensive about our choices - desperate to feel like we have succeeded and that that we are doing things 'right'!
At the end of the day I believe that my choices are best for me and my child and I know that other mothers have also made the right choices for them and their children. I think that is all any parent can do. So let's stop the mummy wars, fly the flags of peace and start supporting each other in the difficult, terrifying and wonderful job that is parenting.