All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers. ~ Francois Fenelon
Lately it seems as if parents (mostly moms, let’s face facts here) have been expending an awful lot of energy trying to tear each other down over all of the various issues that we deal with: breastfeeding (yea or nay? for how long?), diapering (cloth? disposable? none at all?), sleeping (co-sleeping? crib sleeping? scream it out?), and every other decision that parents have to make today. This has been going on for a long time, don’t get me wrong — the so-called “Mommy Wars” have been going on for years, but most of the time it consists of minor skirmishes and attacks of opportunity. A guerrilla war, if you will.
But then, last week, along came that damn TIME Magazine cover, and we went from All-Quiet on the Mommy Front to the fucking Epic Battle of the Century. The whole internet is abuzz with accusations, denigrations, aspersions, and incursions.
I’ve already made clear my annoyance with all of that. I’m pretty much a “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” kinda girl, and all of this anger and irrationality makes me uncomfortable.
But in thinking about it, I realized that I’m not immune to the pull of war. In spite of all my efforts to maintain an open mind, to be understanding and empathetic, I still find myself judging people. Sometimes VERY harshly. And who are those people who manage to get my pacifistic goat? What Mommy War faction manages to crawl under my skin? Stick in my craw? Various other unpleasant-sounding clichés?
I judge people for being judgy.
That’s right. Do you comment on a blog and say how it’s SO EASY to be a stay-at-home-mom (even though you’ve never been one)? Do you write posts about how anyone who would give their child formula is poisoning that child and should have him or her taken away? Or maybe you rail against how smug all those rich moms with nannies can be when they’re talking about the superiority of cloth-diapering? I JUDGE YOU.
I judge you for lacking empathy. I judge you for refusing to admit that the other side has merits, that different families exist in different circumstances. I judge you for trying to cut people down in order to make yourself feel better about your own decisions.
And when I’m seeing this behavior, and judging you based on it, here’s what I think: YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.
You’ve made choices that are best for your family. That does not give you the right to tell other people that they’re wrong for making different choices. It ESPECIALLY doesn’t give you the right to tell them that they’re stupid, or negligent, or bad parents.
Yeah, maybe I’m overly idealistic, but I really don’t understand why we can’t all support each other. I’m really lucky in a lot of ways, and I face my own particular challenges as well. I’m assuming that you are the same way — you may be lucky in ways that I’m not, and your challenges may be different from mine. And that’s okay. Hey, maybe we could even help each other. At the very least, we could refuse to use language to hurt one another.
So here I am. I never got into the Mommy Wars, and I’m hereby promising the world that I will do my utmost never to enlist. No matter how right I think I am, I will try very hard not to make you feel bad for thinking differently from me. I will not post trollish comments on blogs or articles just because I find their opinions abhorrent. I will strive to express my opinions in ways that are educated, thoughtful, and impersonal. I will stand up for myself when I need to, and I will back down when faced with people who are clearly bat-shit crazy. Because there is no sense in battling bat-shit.
Peace out, yo.