Escaping the Mommy Wars
I woke up in a sweat. I haven’t slept soundly since that black minivan slowed down while my babies and I were outside. Luckily, I was able to grab my babies then tuck and roll behind my armored sedan before they started.
The 5 of them had bandanas over their faces as they peppered my house with bullets, bottles, grenades, pacifiers, and disposable diapers. My 3 year old cried out, “Mommy, when will this stop?”
I had to tell him, I didn’t know. The Mommy Wars have been going on for generations. I’ve lost good friends including Martha who was sniped last week after quitting her job to stay home. This is the everyday life of the Mommy Wars. Like all real wars, it’s an armed conflict “characterized by extreme collective aggression, destruction, and usually high mortality.”
Oh wait, what am I talking about? I’ve actually never been attacked in person by another mom. (The internet doesn’t count. People just like to fight on the internet.) Despite what marketers are trying to portray, this has been my experience:
Mom 1: Hi, how old is your baby? He’s so cute.
Mom 2: 8 months, though I can’t believe it. It goes so fast.
Mom 1: Mine is 9 months. Isn’t it crazy how fast they grow?
Mom 2: Oh, tell me about it. And this one’s going through another growth spurt. I feel like I’m nursing all the time.
Mom 1: Oh, I tried breastfeeding, but it didn’t work out. Maybe next time. Those growth spurts are crazy. Does yours let you sleep when he’s having one? Mine does not.
And so forth. Almost every mom I’ve ever met is able to talk about and around supposedly controversial issues with no problems.* I remain dubious of this depiction of mothers as gang members who can’t handle disagreement
Mom friends are like any other type of adult friendship. You get to know each other, you see how compatible you are. If you like each other, you spend more time together, and if you don’t, you spend less.
I refuse to be a pawn for profit whether it’s viral videos, clickbait headlines, provocative book titles on discipline, or scaretactic billboards on sleeping arrangements.
For example, the biggest supporter of the Mommy Wars I’ve seen is formula companies, which is pretty absurd based on the statistics. At 3 months in the U.S. 60% of babies are getting formula. At 6 months, 80% of U.S. babies are getting formula. When you break it down on by state, in Mississippi where I lived those numbers are 71% at 3 months and 90% at 6 months. If anyone was going to get jumped for opposing views, it should have been me, yet it never happened. On the contrary, I had moms, regardless of their feeding choices, give me support, and years later I am contacted by moms looking for support as they have their next children. Which is not to say every mom is nice all the time to everyone, but a snarky comment or what seems to be a dirty look does not a war make.
So why are companies that have the vast majority of moms using their products perpetuating a lie that there’s a war? Well, conflict sells. When we’re busy fighting an imaginary enemy, we’re better consumers. Whenever I share statistics, I find that most women had no idea what others were really doing.
The most hurt moms I’ve seen are those who wanted support but feel alone when their well-meaning families disagree with them and pressure them into choices they don’t want to make. Or moms who are dealing with the disappointment that their anticipated vision of motherhood doesn’t match the reality. Honestly I don’t know many adults, male or female, childfree or not, who aren’t dealing with this exact kind of disappointment toward some aspect of their life whether it’s their salary, their housing, their job, or their relationships. This is an internal personal conflict, not a mother-against-mother aggression.
At times it feels like the purpose of the Mommy Wars is to shut up those of us who aren’t making the popular choice up lest we be accused of starting conflict. I’ve thought, am I going to hurt someone’s feelings when I share this new research on my Facebook page? Maybe I shouldn’t share it. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Are my friends mature adults who understand I’m sharing information, or are they crazy people who just want to fight? Then I hit share. No one’s done a drive by on my house yet, but we’ll see what happens after I share this post.
*Yes, there are some drama-mongerers who try to bait others into arguments, but they mostly act that way online clearly to amuse themselves or to drive up their blog revenues. I have strict policy to not feed the trolls.