I felt her glaring at me as I turned away and walked down the aisle. The tapping of her stiletto echoed after me as I wrestled a toddler on my hip, a baby on my shoulder and a shopping cart with any leftover limbs I could muster. The encounter had begun civilly, but as our conversation had moved from creamy vs. crunchy peanut butter to stay-at-home vs. working moms, anger rose and emotions exploded. I had thrown myself right into the middle of a war that had been around for years.
The futile feud known as the "Mommy Wars" has never been bigger. It encompasses almost every parenting decision we make. Moms perpetuate this cycle, pitting themselves against each other in battles to be the best.
Why do we feel the need to fight against any opinion that doesn't share our same belief? The answer is quite simple — a lack of understanding. Try putting yourself in another mom's shoes. Is it fair for you to judge her parenting decisions? Would it be fair for her to judge yours? Parenting choices are not simple. Often, there are underlying reasons for parents' decisions that are their business — and their business only.
In the book, "Yes Please," by Amy Poehler, Amy uses six words that I love — six simple words that can put an end to these Mommy Wars:
"Good for her! Not for me."
When I was a new mom, I remember sitting in my living room chatting with a good friend. As I was nursing my son with ease, my friend fed her daughter a bottle full of formula. She vented to me about how guilty she felt that she didn't breastfeed, especially after pressure from others to do so. I was surprised because I didn't enjoy nursing and secretly wished I had an excuse to spend money on formula. Our conversation was not heated, and we didn't feel the need to spring into a debate about which method was better.
She formula feeds her babies? Good for her! Not for me.
She works full-time out of the home? Good for her! Not for me.
She only feeds her kids organic/vegan/gluten-free snacks? Good for her! Not for me.
Every child is different, which means that every parenting style must be different. Some days, I wish my babies would have come with a handbook. But they didn't — and I'm guessing yours didn't either. You don't parent the same way your own mother did. Your neighbor's technique is drastically different from your own. Be sensitive to how you handle relationships with other parents. They can easily be tarnished by thoughtless words or comments thrown around in casual conversation (or Facebook posts).
Remember, each mother is trying her best to do what's right for her family just like you are trying your best to do what's right for yours. Let's embrace our different parenting choices, focusing on what we moms have in common. We are all giving our children the number one thing they need: love.
This world surely needs more love and less judgement, so instead of blowing up in defense of your own parenting opinions, try simply saying to yourself, "Good for her! Not for me."