We have another fabulous guest poster today – Lauren Fitzgerald. She tackles an important topic about fighting amongst ourselves as women. I feel sure that God wants something better for us…read on and be blessed, friends. ~Kristen
How many times have you heard this phrase used on TV, in magazines, on Facebook?
Maybe when Time magazine featured a mom boldly breastfeeding her four-year-old on the cover. Or when Good Morning America did a feature on Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer taking a mere two weeks of maternity leave with her newborn. Or that time The Wellness Mama wrote a blog post on the dangers of choosing an epidural.
Regardless of the “mommy” topic, immediately mothers take to the internet and airwaves with digital pitchforks and flaming words, not attacking the media outlets. No no, we mothers from around the world are attacking each other. We criticize, we lash out, we quote statistics, we do research, we cite articles, we debate. Until a new topic surfaces, and the wars start all over again.
If I’m being honest, I have come to hate the term “Mommy Wars” almost as much as I hate profanity. Not because it’s not true. But because of what it represents. We as mothers are so much better than this.
I mean, seriously – mothers are some of the most supportive, nurturing, loving people on the planet just instinctually. We cook and carry meals when a friend has a baby. We write notes when a family member needs encouragement. We warmly greet and welcome visitors as they come through the doors on Sunday mornings. And yet, time and time again, we see moms publicly and privately tearing each other down at the first hint of someone mothering in a different way. (Please note, I’m not referencing those who are blatantly disregarding scriptures. There is some mothering going on out there that we all need to be peacefully and privately admonishing. But that’s a topic for another time.)
So…why? Why do we lash out at the very women we should support, over things like formula, diapering options and epidurals?
Katherine Wintsch, a co-worker and personal friend of mine, has a theory, and I want to share it with you because I think it’s spot-on.
We aren’t at war with other mothers. We are at war with ourselves.
Let me explain.
I recently conducted a study with 5,000 mothers in 17 countries to understand the one feeling all mothers have in common. Know what it is?
Doubt about the job we’re doing as mothers, doubt about the decisions we’re making…have made…will make for ourselves and our families. Doubt doubt doubt. Guilt guilt guilt.
Do you remember the story of the log and the speck in Matthew 7? Here Matthew says, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?…”
I believe that we pick that speck out and ignore our own log for two reasons:
- It’s so much easier – and more immediately gratifying – to point out what we believe are mistakes in others.
- We live with a spirit of subconscious doubt over the choices we’re making. All. The. Time. We see other moms making different decisions than we do, and the voices in our heads start to get louder. Come on, you know the voices I’m talking about. The ones that say things like:
“Huh. Vickie’s cloth-diapering. I didn’t do that. Should I have done that? Wait, is she saying I should have done that? Am I a bad mother? Have I ruined my children???? You know what? No. There is nothing wrong with disposable diapers. Let me tell her all the reasons there’s nothing wrong with disposable diapers.”
Aaaaaaaaand the snowball continues rapidly downhill until my… ahem, I mean “our”… anxiety levels have reached new heights, and we become dead-set on proving to the world that our decisions were right. Somehow we believe this will justify the choices we’ve made and will provide us with inner peace.
Guess what, ladies…it won’t.
Even kindly but publicly “educating” people will not bring you the peace your heart so desperately desires. But I have some tips that will. Here are some things that will help you find peace with the mothering decisions you’re making.
#1 Give yourself a time out EVERY day.
I know, I know. With kids and husbands and activities and dogs to walk and Bible readings to catch up on and food prep and paperwork and WAIT what? Lucy has LICE???
Still, I highly recommend you spend time alone every day and just breathe. In and out. That’s all. A couple minutes minimum.
I’m not saying you have to do or think anything during these minutes. Just be. Taking five minutes every day to sit quietly, by yourself, and listen to your breath will make you feel so much more intentional. It will make you feel sane. And I will not judge if you tell me you find yourself taking your breaths in the bathroom with the lights off and the door locked. Been there many times.
#2 Know your triggers.
Think of the last few times you’ve gotten upset, or maybe just felt that jealous pang in your heart. Or that urge to “teach someone a lesson.” Write them down. Notice any trends? (Hint: It will be easier to spot these trends if you follow tip number one above.) Was it all around the time of that seemingly perfect, natural birth that your girlfriend recently posted all over social media, for example? If so, could it be that you have doubt or guilt about the way your birth experience went down?
Pay attention to the trends in your feelings and identify the source. If you are feeling uneasy about your labor and delivery, for example, ask yourself why. And then make a plan to resolve these feelings so you don’t turn into the Hulk every time someone mentions the words “water birth.” If needed, find someone to talk to, because these feelings only fester when left unattended. And green is not your color.
#3 Remember, (social) media is not real life.
Whatever people are posting on social media, printing in magazines or sharing on the morning news is just the highlight reel of their lives. It’s what they want you to see. It’s how they want you to view them.
The reality? We’re ALL a hot mess from time to time behind those glossy, glowy Instagram filters and the Pinterest recipes for kid-friendly quinoa-balls. Maybe more than “from time to time.” Ok, I’m a hot mess on most days and may or may not have fed my kids granola bars and eggs last night for dinner after church because I just couldn’t bear to put up a fight.
I challenge you in the next month to post a “real” mothering photo. Like this oldie but goodie:
Those are my kids. Not smiling on a Saturday morning over a steaming hot pile of gluten-free pancakes. Nope, they’re crying because I wouldn’t let them watch SpongeBob even though Celia’s mother let them watch it at HER house. (I’m awful, I know.)
Let’s give each other permission to be imperfect. Because we all are, and that’s totally ok.
#4 And of course, spend time conversing with God.
I don’t mean snagging yet another daily devotional book at the Bible bookstore and vowing to read each day. That’s nice and all, but it easily becomes another “have to” on your long T0 Do list. I mean spend time really talking to God. He wants to hear from you. Do it in the car. Do it waiting in the carpool line. But take a note from Nike and Just Do It. Ask Him what you should do before making a decision and really listen to what He has to say. Many times the Holy Spirit will help lead us to scriptures that can settle our hearts and minds.
In closing, I’ll say it again, ladies: we aren’t at war with other mothers. We are at war with ourselves. And we need to wave the white flag and give ourselves a break. Motherhood is hard enough. Let’s vow to try and make it easier on each other.
Lauren is a wife to Tony, mother to Lydia (4.5) and Trey (3), and the Managing Director of The Mom Complex in Richmond, Virginia. When she isn’t working with companies like Lego, Walmart, and Discovery to make motherhood easier, you’ll find her playing dress up or kicking a soccer ball in the backyard with her kids, heading out for a run, speaking at ladies days, or playing manhunt with her husband and the youth group at the Hopewell Church of Christ.