Mommy Wars Over Convictions

March Madness recently came to an end, and one team rose above all the others because of all the battles fought. Sometimes the games were close, sometimes it was a no-brainer, but each time, we got a little closer to knowing who would be the last team standing.
Now imagine that each mom you know has gone through a process like March Madness, not to see who's the best team- but to see who she is. Just like you and I, she has "fought" all the mini-battles (or will soon enough) to come to her own set of convictions about mommyhood.

The battles begin with small potato issues during pregnancy:
caffeine vs. decaf
find out the gender vs. wait & see
count by weeks vs. count by months

Things get more fierce when discussing labor & delivery:
hospital vs. birthing center vs. home
induced vs. going into labor naturally
natural vs. epidural
birthing plan vs. doctor's plan
vaginal vs. cesarean section

Then the gloves come off once the baby comes out:
breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding
If breastfeeding, how long?
schedule/routine vs. attachment parenting
medicine vs. no meds
vaccines vs. vaccine-free
"My" discipline method vs. every other method
day care vs. stay-at-home
occasional day care/babysitting vs. kids-never-leave-my-side
child-centered vs. parent-centered home
(shouldn't a Christian home be God-centered anyway?)

Then when you start talking about family planning:
birth control (b.c.) vs. quiver full
If b.c., pill/IUD vs. non-abortifacients vs. NFP
Short term vs. permanent b.c. options

And then once these babies become kids:
Barbie vs. Bratz vs. baby dolls
Harry Potter vs. Narnia vs. no fantasy books
family devotions + church vs. occasional church attenders
organic vs. non-organic
How will they dress?
When to have "the talk"?
Make up at what age?
Dating at what age?

etc., etc., etc.

We do this for so many reasons... I don't believe it's because we want to be at war with other women. We want to find common ground with friends. We want to feel "normal". We want our choices to be validated. We want to see women (and their children) further ahead of us on the road we're choosing to walk. On some things, we believe there is a biblical reason to do it one way over another. On other things, we just have a natural inclination, perhaps due to our own childhood, perhaps due to our personality or the personality of our child, or some other reason.

The truth is that with each choice we make as a mommy, we carve our own little "niche" part of the world. We become a breastfeeding, organic, attachment parenting mommy who uses an IUD and doesn't spank. Or a bottle-feeding working mom who spanks, allows Harry Potter, but not Bratz. Or a quiverfull-minded woman who vaccinates, uses locally-grown produce, and allows Bratz, but only if they're given as gifts. Do you see what I mean? Each of us is our own type of woman, so that even though we like to have a sense of comraderie with other moms, it can only go so far. At some point, we will disagree with every mom we encounter on something.

There is such a natural pull to be a part of something bigger- to connect with other moms that are doing things the same way we ourselves are, so that we can identify and learn with one another. But this same natural pull that can connect us with other women can be divisive. We've each fought so many "mini-battles" in our attempt to become who God wants us to be. We (and I am definitely speaking to myself on this one) must be so careful to remember to separate what is a personal conviction from what is written in the Word.

Thoughts? Stories? Anything you'd like to share about this idea of mommy convictions?


Diane said...

This is an area in which I really struggle. I tend to subconsiously think that I have to be *just like* someone or they won't like me. Like, we have to have everything in common or I won't be good enough for them. So for me, personally, it's an issue of rejection/acceptance, which is where I struggle the most in my life. I've really been tested over the past year, though, because those I know personally who are most like me, are not so much in my life anymore. At the same time, I have been questioned repeatedly by another mom, who believes/lives somewhat differently than me, and we now have a better understanding of each other. Now she is one of the few people I feel like I can talk to about anything.

dcrmom said...

You said it all so well. I'm a strange combination of caring too much what others think of me and yet being just contrary enough to want to do my own thing. Makes no sense, does it? And I'm wrong on both counts. Sigh. Your posts always make me think.

the blackwells said...

Interesting that you just posted about this. Ben and I were talking about all this a week or so ago. We had a couple over to our house for dinner -- Ben knows him well through school but I've never been around them. They brought theyir 9 month old and proceeded to hold her the entire night and then when they put her down to sleep in the next room while we were having tea and playing a game, they pulled out the baby monitor. Every time she made any peep the mom would jump up to go attend to her. At one point I just flippantly said, "she'll be ok!"...which led to some obvious tension. I talked to Ben after they left and said I don't know if I mesh well with them...and I have a feeling it was mostly because of that -- since I was the "let them explore" and "let them cry themselves out for a bit at 6 weeks" kind of mom.

I think it is that, as moms, we make these little decisions re: our parenting so PERSONAL. As if we are being attacked when someone doesn't agree w/ one of our choices. So...all that to say, I hope that I will remain open to a relationship with her and not focus on the minor discrepancies in our roles as moms.

Thanks for this!

Jess said...

It's funny, Heather- because I have done this so many times... over the same issue you describe.

It can feel like such a personal thing, particularly when you've intentionally chosen *how* you're going to do things.

I totally hear what you're saying. I hope things can go well with this new friend of yours. Sometimes I have to remind myself that even though I wasn't crazy about certain things, I was way WAY more uptight with my first than I am now. And that this new mom will learn too!

I love hearing about the new friends you're making and the new life you're making for yourself there; I've wondered how that's gone for you. Thanks for sharing!