The ability to voice our opinions on the internet is a double-edged sword. With infinite topics and conversations, people find themselves engaged in great battles of words and wits. Armed with Google and passion, we take to the internet and fight our wars. Mothers are no exception. We’ve all heard it, seen it, probably engaged at it one point or another: “Mommy Wars.”
No one warned me when I was pregnant that I should tread social media carefully. I soon realized that no matter what, I was going to do everything wrong (in the eyes of someone). In fact, if every mother wrote a description of one day for the world to see, the mommy wars would rage on for eternity. The smallest details would make the masses go wild. “You cleaned the windows? YOU USED GLASS CLEANER WITH YOUR CHILDREN IN THE SAME HOUSE?” Really.
I understand having strong opinions about things; I can fight with the best of them. However, I think it is vital that we self-reflect on what we are doing when we engage in this behavior toward mothers on social media. We have to start taking responsibility for who we are hurting under the guise of helping.
Expecting mothers: Especially women expecting their first children. We’ve all been there; the excitement of your due date approaching sometimes fades against the anxiety of the unknown. Feeling the weight of what there is to learn, new mothers seek advice and community online. Unfortunately, what they find is usually quite confusing. No one can agree on the best way to do anything, and they disagree quite LOUDLY. I have seen countless arguments and in almost every single one, I see comments from new mothers expressing their fear and uncertainty about their new life to come, specifically because of the newest argument.
New mothers: I was completely in the dark to the fact that on top of all the other new worries postpartum, worrying about society in general would be a big one. Suddenly, the arguments were real. Everything I did when my baby and I were in public filled me with soul-crushing anxiety. “One of these people is going to think I’m doing something wrong and say something, as if they could possibly know my baby more than me.”
My fears were often related to needing to breastfeed in public, but I also felt fear in general about people judging me. I had seen nothing but judgment online for 9 months. Now there was a real, live baby in my arms. What would people say? I could have said that I don’t care about the opinions of others, but that’s not me. My solution was just to stay home and run 10 minute errands here and there when I could. This was not a viable solution.
Now, we’re almost through my baby’s first year, and I am thankful to have outgrown much of that fear. That’s not to say I have completely outgrown it and I truly do wonder if I ever will.
Babies and Children: Many of us had a switch flip when we gave birth to our first children. We knew nurture naturally, and were all of a sudden clairvoyant. We just knew what our baby needed. That natural instinct is there for a reason. You don’t get a manual when your baby is born, because all babies are different. What works for some, may not work for others.
I’m sure there are countless women, stronger than myself, who are capable of brushing this off. I would love the freedom to not let society affect me. However, I’m not writing this for me. I write this for the women who are like me, who are prone to social anxiety and fear of judgment. I’m not the only one, and being a mom is hard enough. That’s why communities like this are so important. Support and encouragement help everyone.