Monday, May 14, 2012

We Need Each Other

This blog is usually about my crazy experiences as a mother of three.  I avoid pop culture topics and controversy for the sake of telling funny - and sometimes moving - stories.  However, there is an issue among American motherhood today about which I am completely passionate, and it has cropped up once again.  So I am going to take a moment to get up on my soap box and say something, because I am sick and tired of the media using me and other mothers as pawns in their little financial game.

TIME magazine recently stirred up a hornet's nest with their most recent cover:

This picture and headline have created an online storm of shouting, mostly from proponents of breastfeeding that are ready with swords drawn to defend their choice of providing nourishment for their child - whether anyone is actually fighting them or not.

Let me be clear on something.  I am in favor of breastfeeding.  I breastfed all three of my children.  I did it in public, and I did it as long and as much as it worked for my child and me, which was different all three times.  I have no problem with a breastfeeding mother gracing the cover of a nationwide magazine.

That's not what offends me.

What offends me is this culture the media has created that aims to set mother against mother in the name of selling more magazines.  I am offended by magazines, blogs, talk shows, newspapers, and all other outlets of communication creating controversy among women just because fighting and backbiting sells better than solidarity and togetherness.  The perpetuation of the so-called Mommy Wars is not a phenomenon of everyday motherhood.  It is a plot of editors to create a storm that they can then "examine" with "experts" to destroy relationships and make mothers feel poor about themselves.

Motherhood is hard.  I have done hard things in my life, and I am here to tell you - motherhood is hard.  It is often unforgiving, physically exhausting, and emotionally draining.  On any given day, you can pour your heart and soul into the adventure only to have it broken and thrown back in your face.  Any mother who has found herself walking into walls from fatigue, discovered that the reason she can't get the poop smell out of her nose is because it's under her fingernails, or held a child's hand while they are strapped to a hospital bed with tubes coming out of their body knows that this journey is not an easy one.  Motherhood is not for wimps.  To survive it - to thrive in it - we need each other.  We need the Fellowship of Mothers.  I need to be able to post on Facebook how tired I am and immediately have six moms say "yeah, me too."  I need to have moms I call to both cry and laugh with.  I need a posse of women to contact when my child comes down with an unidentifiable rash or comes home with bruises - emotional or physical - from the mean kid at school.  I need other moms, and other moms need me.

What we don't need is to be against one another.  We do not need to fight over breastfeeding, bottle feeding, staying at home, going to work, when to potty train, how to vaccinate, sugar vs. no sugar, how to discipline, and so forth.  We do not need to stand against one another on those issues that we each agonize over and about which we ultimately have to make our own decisions.  And the truth is, in day-to-day life, I don't have these fights.  Most of the time, we discuss, we agree to disagree, and then we go for coffee.  The only place the Mommy Wars is really being fought is in the media, and the writers and editors know how to push just the right buttons to fire people up and tear them apart.  We don't need that.

We also do not need to be told we are not mom enough.  No, I have not read this article.  I don't plan to.  You know why?  Because a  few years back, I resolved to never again read an article or watch a news clip that made me feel bad about being the mother I am.  I used to read everything, and I found myself crying myself to sleep because I could never measure up to those women in the magazines.  It took till the third child to realize how much time and energy I was wasting on that nonsense.  I have several friends who became mothers after me, and some of them asked me what advice I had for them.  My biggest piece of advice is this: there are exactly four people who know what is best for your, your husband, your baby, and Jesus.  After that, people may give advice, but they are also welcome to shut it.  What works for one baby does not necessarily work for every baby.  You've got to make the best decision for your family on so many issues, a million decisions every day.  You are not going to make the right decisions every time.  But you are the expert on YOUR child.  No one else, I don't care how many credentials they have.  And again, you do not need the editors of TIME magazine or any other news source challenging your ability as a mother.  Don't waste your time and energy on that crap. 

So women  - hear me out.  Stop being used.  Stop allowing the writers and the editors and the captains of media out there to dictate your relationships.  Be strong enough in your opinions that you don't have to shout back so loud when you feel you are being threatened.  Don't fall into their trap.  Fight for the Fellowship of Mothers, and band together the way we need to.  You are doing fine, you are a great mom, and you have great women around you on whom to lean and with whom to cry.  Put down your swords and go get coffee.

And then watch this video from Johnson and Johnson, because it's beautiful:

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