A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question to all of you about the rising competition between mothers. Many of you gave me some wonderful feedback and brought to light something that often isn’t talked about concerning pregnancy and new babies…feeling like an inadequate mother. Through the “Are You Mom Enough?” movement and today’s pervasive social media, we are destroying the opportunity to help each other by trying to prove we are the best mothers.
Remember that whole stupid thing with Time magazine which showed a woman breastfeeding what looked like to be a five year old? We saw her whole boob and a child capable of eating at the dinner table being breastfed by his mother. The title of the article was called, “Are You Mom Enough?” This article stirred people up, which is what Time magazine enjoys doing. This movement has resulted in new modern wars between mothers.
For instance, there is a debate on breastfeeding your child till they were at least five or six. There is the debate of co-sleeping, and there is the debate of women being allowed to breast feed their child in public without any type of covering. What this has caused is for new moms to feel that they aren’t “Mom Enough,” unless they could do all those things.
“Everyone wants to know what they are doing is ‘right/best’ and that means someone has to be ‘wrong’. It’s a shame because most of the time it’s simple issues not major ones. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding? Who cares- you feed the baby. The need was met you are a good mom.”
Women who struggle with breast feeding, whether it has to do with not making enough milk or the baby unable to drink breast milk, often think that if they don’t breastfeed they are not “Mom Enough.” Women who think that co-sleeping is not going to work due to the size of their bed or simply because they want to be able to sleep when they are in bed believe that they are not “Mom Enough” and are often ridiculed for it. Still others think that covering yourself in public when you breast feed and not posting photos of yourself breastfeeding is inappropriate believe they are not “Mom Enough” because they aren’t brave enough to whip out a boob in front of people.
Then there is that whole topic of fear. One reader brought up how our society is a culture that lives in fear. Yes, our society has become fearful of everything, which is why when you buy a cup of hot coffee it is labeled, “Beware Hot Coffee!” However, I also think the fear is of the most unimportant things, such as the fear of not eating all organic foods, the fear of not having enough interaction and touch with your baby, the fear of them crying for too long, and surprisingly, the fear of hospitals, doctors, and medication.
“I think we often do it to ourselves. “I’m failing as a mom because I can’t do xyz like so & so.” We don’t stop & focus on what we’re doing right and all the ways we’re succeeding as parents.”
Once again, I’ve just named a few fears that new mothers have, however, these are real and if you go online and read any baby question and answer boards you will find many of these same concerns from mothers. There are some fears new mothers have that are normal and according to one mom that I know, it doesn’t go away after they learn to walk. New moms want to do the right thing. What they forget is that you have to use your own common sense and your own motherly instinct. Also, you have to remember that everybody and their brother think they know how to raise children. To take a quote from a wise mother, “Take their advice with a grain of salt.”
Lastly, social media has been the worst tool for new moms. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Obviously, I use these social media outlets to promote my blog and for fun, but let me tell you it can drive you nuts. It is sad how much people share on Facebook, especially moms who have an agenda. There are moms that post hundreds of pictures trying to prove they are the best, there are moms who criticize other moms openly, and there are moms trying to push their own agenda.
“It’s easy to belittle someone who doesn’t make the same parenting choices as you do when you don’t have to tell them to their face what you think. Many people hide behind their screens.”
Some moms want people to believe that everything is perfect when in reality, all moms make mistakes and even new moms need to admit when they don’t know what to do. One mistake new moms often make is posting questions about taking care of their baby on Facebook. This is a huge mistake! People love to give advice, but they often do not care wither it helps you or not.
“That is the downside of technology. When I had young children, the only source of this type of talk was in small groups and even that was limited. Now mothers are constantly comparing and feeling as though they are failures if their children don’t or do _______(fill in the blank.) God made us all different and therefore we achieve things differently.”
After reading your responses to my questions, it really made me think about what a new mom can do to protect herself from becoming fodder in the mom vs. mom war. For me, I decided early on that the best advice on being a mom that I could receive was the advice within my own large family. For instance, my own mother who raised me, my best friend’s mom who has unofficiallly adopted me, and my mother-in-law are all women who have raised children and they have been there and done that. Also, I have pestered my sister who has two young children with questions. I’ve read a few good books and to be honest, I’ve been praying A LOT!
“I was very fortunate to have what I consider to be one of the world’s greatest moms and I turned out okay. As a result, I wasn’t a terribly nervous “new mom”. I just looked back on my own childhood as a reference. My kids could eat dirt, get germy and do stuff I did as a kid and survived.”
I would suggest that a new mom seek out someone that not only has had experience raising children, but who also loves them and has a lot of common sense and wisdom. Find that person that loves you and wants what is best for you and who doesn’t have an agenda. Find someone who you can trust! Also find a doctor that you trust and are confident in their abilities. Certain questions should be brought up with your doctor, so it’s important to find a good doctor.
Keep certain things private. If you have a question, seek answers privately with the person you trust. That way you can avoid the stress of dealing with the “know it all” moms.
To sum this up, do what is best for you and your child. All families are different and all children are different! What worked best for one mom may actually work for you, but you have to be the judge of that. All mothers, whether they like it or not, make mistakes. We are only human after all. I want to end with this so true story from one of my readers who is a mother. What she said reflects what we as mothers should strive to do.
“Today as I was grocery shopping. There was a mom with a screaming kiddo (probably about 10 months old). She looked at me like she might start crying and said “I’m sorry!!” I told her that it wasn’t too long ago that I was in her shoes. Reading your question I really don’t think its competition itself but a world of criticism and cynicism towards one another. “Well, look at that mom…can you even believe that she does/did?” This is something that I have fallen prey to in the past and I have put a focus on how I react and treat others! By God’s Grace I hope to be a more understanding and compassionate person and fellow mother!”
Written By: Little Kristy