I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Too much time if I’m honest. I’m nosey which is bad enough, but you can join ‘support’ groups (the level of support differs greatly!), selling pages etc too now. I am admin to a Pregnancy page (The creator is lovely, but we’ve grown a lot so I help out) and what I have noticed is that our group differs a huge amount to some others I am a member of. Mums on facebook come in all shapes and sizes, same as they do in the real world. The difference being that online opinions can come across negatively and it’s easy for a point to be either misunderstood or not worded very well to start with. Then we have what is not very affectionately known as a ‘Facebook Keyboard Warrior’. These are facebook users who join support groups, but who forget normal social etiquette. They turn their filter off and think that they can say whatever they like to whomever they like with no repercussions. They start fights about the most basic of things, for example in relation to parenting, breast vs bottle, how much time is spent away from baby, weaning techniques etc. Lots of parenting groups have to have rules about which topics may or may not be discussed as people get so heated about them.
In my final year of uni my photography project was titled ‘Motherism’. This was a term which was being banded abound in the media at the time as a way of describing how mothers see/treat other mothers. I did a photo essay/documentary style book following 2 mums with children of a similar age. The participants were from different economic and social backgrounds and my aim was to get people talking about the assumptions they were making when seeing other mothers. Who did they feel was the better parent for example?
We all have our own way of doing things as a mum. When I had my eldest we didn’t have internet at home and my mobile phone barely sent text messages. I learnt from family and trusted my instinct. The same for when I had my son, although I did venture onto ivillage (I know, I’m old), and MSN groups for mummy support, but mostly did things my way. Since having Penny I feel so much pressure to be a good mum. I always assumed I was before, but if I dared voice some of my parently style from back then I am pretty sure I would be lynched online. To name a few things, we used disposable nappies (a lot of them), my daughter had her ears pierced at a year old, we weaned onto solids at 3 months and I didn’t even attempt to breastfeed my first.
I’m older now. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve read studies about certain issues and I have changed my mind about different parenting methods. These were choices that I made when I chose to have another baby. Are my older two children somehow a complete mess or damaged by my original style? Of course they are not. Penny is now 6 1/2 months old, was born at home, formula fed (I tried my damn hardest to breast feed, but it just wasn’t to be after 2 months), cloth nappy wearing (part time), worn in a sling a lot of the time, being weaned from 6 months using a mix of Baby Led Weaning and traditional weaning. We co-sleep sometimes too, and we never do controlled crying. All this being said, do I judge other mums for doing things differently? Of course not. How big of a hypocrite would that make me? Most of us do our best with what we have available. Do I think I’m a better mum now? perhaps. But that is a reflection on my personal circumstances. I wouldn’t say I was a bad mum, but that I have simply become more informed and more at ease over time. There are mums who will do things very differently to me, and they are good mums too.
Motherhood brings with it so many challenges on it’s own, without us ripping each other to pieces. We need to support each other, not judge and condemn another persons choices. This doesn’t mean that offering up advice is wrong either, but I urge you to think about how you are saying it. Are you judging? Are you comparing a mothers situation/problem with you personal circumstances? Can you at least try and see it from the other person’s perspective? If not, then you may not be the best person to offer advice.
I saw this posted online recently and couldn’t agree more. Such a refreshing change from the sniping and judgemental mummy bashing I normally see.
“To the mum who’s breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You’re a good mum.
To the mum who’s formula feeding: Isn’t science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn’t produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You’re a good mum.
To the cloth diapering mum: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You’re a good mum.
To the disposable diapering mum: Damn those things hold a lot, and it’s excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You’re a good mum.
To the mum who stays home: I can imagine it isn’t easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who works: It’s wonderful that you’re sticking to your career, you’re a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it’s fantastic. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you’re too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You’re feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren’t complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who gave her kids a home cooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they’re learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, and for the rest of their lives. You’re a good mum.
To the mum with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can’t run around. You’re a good mum.
To the mum with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don’t they? We’ve all been through it. You’re a good mum.