From the Front Lines of the Mummy Wars

Shannon

I’ve been neglecting writing lately, much like I’ve been neglecting most things that do not cry and pull my hair when I am ignoring them.  It seems like just yesterday I was writing about pregnancy’s pains and humiliations, but actually it was 9 months ago.  During those 9 months, I have spent quite a lot of time feeding, bathing, and playing with my little moose. You get into a rhythm as time goes by, you find your footing and become comfortable in your parenting choices. Then, one day, you find yourself unsure of what to do.  Maybe it’s a feeding question.  maybe your baby has a rash, or has suddenly started waking at a time of night he didn’t before.  It doesn’t really matter what the question is.  What matters is that you find yourself turning to the internet for answers.

wonka

The days of needing to go to a website dedicated to parenting to find a forum full of “like-minded” people are over, as far as I can tell, as there are exactly eleventy billion Facebook groups dedicated to whatever flavour of parent you can possibly imagine.  It’s like Willy Wonka stepped out of a story book and decided to populate the world wide web with rainbow coloured, holier-than-thou moms.  And OH BOY, are you going to get judged!  There are camps of rabid moms on every side of any choice you can possibly make about how to raise your baby, and they can’t wait to tell you what a horrible person you are.

So in you wander, with your innocent questions and suddenly find yourself cowering in a corner as the accusations come flying at you thick and fast.  If you bottle feed your baby formula, you are a lazy tool of the devil feeding your precious child pure poison.  If you breastfeed that baby, you are a judgmental cow, exhibitionist freak, and possibly a pervert, especially if that baby has gotten old enough to sprout teeth.  If you co sleep, you are both endangering and spoiling your child, but if you put them in their own crib or use some form of sleep training, you are an evil, soulless husk of a human being and your child will be empty inside FOREVER. Absolutely everything you can do to, for, feed, or use on or near your child will be torn apart. Basically, no matter what you do, you are a terrible parent.

You might be wondering why a person would continue to subject themselves to this sort of madness, sane individual that you most likely are, and the truth is that it isn’t all judgement and ostracism.  There are pockets of sanity, sisterhood and support out there.  I have met some amazingly lovely women (and men!) that I consider friends through these types of groups.  For a lot of people, though, I think the thing that keeps them coming back is the validation of their choices. There is no rule book that comes with babies, and everyone really just wants to be told that they’re doing a good job.  So they create their little safe spaces where they can all sit around and pat each other on the back.  It’s all very nice and friendly until a new person wanders in with a different point of view or set of experiences, and that’s when all hell breaks loose.  Add to that the usual friction between strong personalities that seems to pop up so easily in social media situations where people are quick to say things they would never say to a person in the real world, and you create a perfect storm of guilt and judgement.

With any luck, you will manage to navigate the murky waters of online Mommy groups, make a few friends, get some good advice, maybe even learn about a completely new way of doing things without too much hassle. Okay, maybe with a LOT of luck.  Just go in with a thick skin and treat people the way you’d like to be treated.  Ask questions and be open to the idea that you might learn something, and you’ll probably some through all okay.  Then step away from the computer and play with your baby, already!

Read more from Shannon here!

Read more about parenting on Ms. Behaved here!

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Comments

  1. Yeah, that’s the tietck, sir or ma’am

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