Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mom Sense...Again

I started these "Mom Sense" posts a few weeks ago with this post. And, periodically, I'll revisit the topic, as I did below.

As a kind of "disclaimer" to everything I post, I don't think my opinion is anything but that: an opinion. It's certainly not the last word on any given topic. I love to debate, as long as it's healthy and respectful...and I hope my "attempts" at humor will help you realize that in no way do I mean to be disrespectful and/or offensive to anyone.

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"My mother saw your mother hanging out mother punched your mother right in the nose...."

It's a very strange childhood song to a jump-roping or hand-slapping I never really liked to sing. But, sadly, it's a realistic picture of the sometimes-silent/sometimes-loud competition between moms (and sometimes dads) that happens in today's world.

When did this start happening?

I don't remember my mom talking about such stuff when we were young...even though I'm sure it was there a bit.

I find it hard enough to teach my kids the importance of being themselves and not worrying about the peer pressure around them to "be the same"...when I'm fighting the same battle myself. Is it just a sign of jealousy and/or low self-confidence in the mom world?

Sadly, we feel it ALL the time.

And, for us, it started when I first got pregnant... Ugh. We decided on a homebirth. A homebirth?!?!?! Are you kidding?

Then it progressed all the way through the years. We bottle-fed. We homeschooled. We choose less activities for the kids (ie. one each).

In the beginning, I got "admiration" and told that I was SO brave for birthing at home. As I kindly pointed out to my "admirers," giving birth ANYWHERE is brave. Giving birth at home is just a different venue.  And until about 80 or so years ago, it was the norm.  My grandmother and her brother, who were from a well-to-do family in Philadelphia, were both born at home.

Then after I didn't breastfeed, I got scoffs and even some people telling me off, saying I wasn't doing what was best for my daughter and how she wouldn't be as smart or healthy because of it. I bit my tongue and watched (rather smugly, I'll admit) as the women who breastfed had to deal with ear infections and tummy upsets, sometimes more than I did. I didn't doubt what they said about breastfeeding at all. It is definitely the best option for babies -- and it's free!  But it wasn't in the picture for me -- even after I tried very hard to do it.

See that's what's called a "back story." The reason behind why somebody does or doesn't do something. But it's personal, private, and totally none of the business of casual bystanders or acquaintances.

Why should I -- or anyone, for that matter -- have to defend my decisions?

Take a look at the overall picture.  Are my kids healthy and well-fed?  Are they well-adjusted and intelligent?  Are they respectful and kind and obedient (most of the time)?

Then SHUT-UP! (Ooops...was that my out-loud voice?) Ahem, random stranger whom we've never met, er, um, please refrain from telling us your opinion of what we do in our lives.

Better? Sigh.

If our job as parents is to raise happy, healthy, good citizens to replace us and that's seeming to happen, why challenge it with griping about or criticizing our different methods of doing that?

I mean, seriously. To the person standing behind us at Starbucks, staring daggers at us before asking the "Question of the Day:"  Why do we homeschool our kids, even though we live in a perfectly good school district? Why not? (And why do you care? Ooops...out-loud voice again, huh?)

Wouldn't our job be a little easier with a few more pats on the back or encouraging words or hugs or, even, cheers?

Well, maybe. That and a few dozen cookies and cups of "milk" (or whatever you're drinking). *wink-grin*

I love opinions. I really do. And I love to share our "back story" with those who are truly interested...especially in the name of getting to know us better. I love hearing the same from those people for the same reason.

It's what makes a friendship stronger.

I wish that parents could walk beside each other, sharing ideas and methods and funny stories, without feeling like it's all a big competition.

It kind of takes the focus off of our kids, which is why we're called "parents" in the first place.

And it just makes sense.

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