A lot of truly brilliant writing has been circulating on the subject of Mommy Wars, so I know I am not original, but I gotta get this off my chest. Women in Cyberland are uber mean to each other. They don’t just disagree, they judge and attack. So in the spirit of the New Year, I propose that we bring a little kindness to our debates, our talkbacks and our thoughts about one another. Even if we think the other person’s opinion is vile.
We can disagree, but let’s try to do so respectfully, especially on hot button mommy issues. Mommy bloggers put themselves out there and let it all hang out. To sit behind a screen and mercilessly dress them down is cowardly, so let’s try to be nice.
To Work or Not to Work
Seriously? Why does anyone feel the need to justify their choices or attack other moms for theirs? The vast majority of us cannot afford to be home full-time, so the issue is moot. Another group of mommies just need to get out of the house and have something of their own.
When a woman decides to leave her children in the care of others in order to pursue her own interests, this does not make her negligent or selfish. This makes her a woman who has made what she believes to be the best choice for herself and her family. We all love our kids. We all make choices according to the maxim “do what’s best for the kids”. Sometimes having a mom who is fulfilled by her career or education is what coheres to this maxim.
Other women choose to stay home and raise their children full-time. Some choose to homeschool. That is awesome. I personally wish I could have been in this group because it would have saved money on childcare and made me feel like a natural mother, but alas being home full-time made me want to experiment with controlled substances. I need to get out, talk to grown-ups (not about kids), do yoga and (TMI alert) poop alone.
So I went to back to school. And that’s ok. And my cousin who is a high-powered attorney with a full-time nanny and an 80 hour work week is ok. And my friend who keeps her kids home until they are 6 is ok. We are all great moms. Our kids are all happy and well adjusted. There is no perfect answer, and no one can have it all. The best we can do is make mindful choices and respect the choices of others.
I am Woman, Hear Me Pray
It has long been a thorn in my side that men in Judaism are judged by their observance while women are judged by their appearance. It is for each woman to decide how she wishes to interpret or ignore the laws of modesty, and this is in no way an indication of her connection to Judaism. Some of the most deeply religious people I have met don’t ‘look frum’, and vice versa. Furthermore it is no one’s business what I wear, what I let my children wear or what women in my community wear. It is also no one’s business how I pray, if I pray or where I pray. This is not to say that I should walk through Mea Shearim in a bikini and tefillin, that’s just disrespectful, but how each of us chooses to connect to or escape our religion is our own business. It is not for anyone else to dictate or judge. So if someone wants to wear a burqa or bike down the Ayalon on Yom Kippur, that’s their prerogative.
If a woman chooses to cover herself that does not mean she is oppressed. If a woman chooses to uncover herself that does not mean she is allowing herself to be objectified. If you don’t like Miley and Robin twerking on molly then don’t watch MTV. If you think little girls’ knees are justifiable objects of male lust, bully for you. Just don’t sexualize my little girls’ knees.
Holistic Halcyon Dreams or Microwave Schnitzel
Perhaps ideally we would all ride bikes or drive a Prius, have epic homebirths, nurse easily and endlessly, eat only local vegan organic, throw out our televisions and never even need to give our kids time-outs. If this sounds like you, pat yourself on the back and volunteer to be cloned. For the rest of us, chill out. Nobody bakes fresh spelt bread every morning. Nobody has NO parabens in their home. Nobody has infinite patience. Nobody is perfect.
Each of us develops our own parenting patterns. We make choices on our kids behalf with their best interests at heart. No mother should feel justified in judging another mother’s style or choices or flaws. Some moms yell, some moms take away toys, some moms give time-outs and some moms raise their children like free-range chickens with no boundaries whatsoever. Just parent your own kids the best you can and don’t judge. Chances are if you think you are a perfect parent then you are doing something terribly wrong, so don’t patronize others.
This year when someone reposts an anti-vaccine article, or a pro-vaccine article, or bemoans the delayed advent of Mashiach because Tel Avivians are having fun, or invites you to an egalitarian Megillah reading, take a deep breath before you reply. Written words hurt and are easily misconstrued. Sometimes taking the high road means letting people have opinions that seem ridiculous to you. By respecting others we win the right to demand respect.
A Personal Pledge
I confess that I sometimes enjoy bickering online. I confess that I have judged women based on their FB posts and talkbacks.
This year I will judge others favorably and show respect for women whose opinions differ from my own.
This year I will ignore the condescension and negative judgment of others.
This year I will try to put being kind before being right.
Who’s with me?