on hot buttons and drama and mommy wars

IMG_0571 oh hey there...can we talk about mama drama for a second? thanks.

for the past two weeks, i feel like all i have been seeing is one icky social media post and article and interaction after another. excuse me for being crass, but there is a lot of crappy stuff out there. negativity and judgement and ridiculous things. i understand being passionate about something but come on. where's the love? calling all mamas! we need more true communities of support! but back to my rant...

why must we engage in every discussion? comment on an inflammatory post? stir the pot? prove a point? cut someone down? hurl insults and spew hideous words? that's enough.

first things first. this whole disney measles situation has really made for a less than "happiest place on earth" situation. vaccine wars, man. nasty. both sides have their resources and "research" and gut instincts and what tends to happen is that each party tries to convince the other. use better sources. lean on personal experiences. or appeal to parental guilt. and at the end of it all, most interactions either end in increased inflammation or with everyone at a stalemate, rolling their eyes and judging the other one under their breath. either way, it seems to be futile to engage. i have thoughts on the subject but i try to do my best not to "get into it" with people. on social media. in random comments. in the church nursery. at dinner with friends. i think it is important to petition and vote and support issues that are meaningful to us. this is america, after all. but there is a way to go about things in a passionate but respectful way.

i mean, aren't we all just trying to do what we think is best for our little ones? you know what? as parents, we make hundreds of decisions in a given day-week-month that can alter our little ones' lives and potentially, the lives of others. and i am guessing that the majority of parents really, truly believe that what they are doing is a good and decent thing. who knows. time might reveal the truth. society learns and grows and advances. unfortunately, by the time we get to that point of enlightenment, most folks are so riled up that they can't see clearly anyway. blind rage and frustration have clouded the conversation so badly that the ones "in the right" feel so maligned that they can't relax and let it go and the ones "in the wrong" are infuriated and looking for another fight. and such is life on this planet.

so how about just not doing this to each other? why not try to engage with others in a loving way and get to the heart of the matter instead of jumping to conclusions and judgment and cruel words? can't we find some common ground and meet there for a metaphorical picnic of sorts? i will bring the sandwiches if you will bring the blanket...

and then, just a few days ago, i saw a repost by a well-known and respected baby carrier company that showed a baby in one of their swaddles next to a pacifier and a book on sleep training. it was posted by a mama on her personal account with a caption about "her sleep tricks" for her baby. she tagged the company in it and they decided to share it over on their feed. it was completely innocent and adorable. but MAN OH MAN did mamas pounce. they immediately revolted. they were spewing disgust at this company and at the sweet mama who posted a picture of her baby that was then "endorsed" on a company instagram account. it was wild. moms were threatening to unfollow the company and send back their baby carriers. they used *incredibly* foul language and stated that sleep training is child abuse and a company that supposedly cares about baby wearing and breastfeeding should never post such an atrocity. seriously? child abuse? they said that anyone who wants their child to sleep more than 8 hours at night is selfish and shouldn't have had children in the first place. mamas (you know, people who are responsible for training up the next generation) were acting like maniacs. calling out other women and their choices. screaming at them in comments. telling them that any parent who cares about the mental health and bonding relationship with their child would never "abandon" their child, allowing their little one to be separated from mama for that long. and that breastfeeding mamas could absolutely NEVER EVER have a little one who sleeps in extended stretches because you can't breastfeed successfully that way. it was wild. and the assumptions! that any child who sleeps at night must have been left alone to cry and cry and suffer. that children who sleep for 12 hours at night have compromised attachment and development. that it is unnatural. AND that someone who does that to their child should absolutely not be featured on a social media feed that promotes baby wearing. absolutely not. because you can't be both a sleep trainer and baby wearer. no, our parenting styles must fit in a very specific box.

women demanded that the image be removed - and the company felt the wrath and obliged. i was so sad for the mama who posted that image in the first place and was then crushed by countless cold-hearted mamas. other MAMAS! women who should know better. and i am sad that the kind comments of a handful of women who commented to say that we should keep the peace and not judge were deleted along with the entire post. those precious voices of reason. i hope they continue on in their effort to promote the use of sweet words. carry on, warriors of peace!

where did we get this idea that co-sleeping and demand feeding and baby wearing are the only ways to do it right? that those are the only possible things that can make you a good parent with a healthy and attached child? i know so many mamas who had a c-section and formula fed and use strollers all the time and they love their littles so much...and oh do those little ones adore their parents. i know mamas who babywear and have a family bed and are raising the sweetest, well-adjusted little darlings. what works for them may not work for me. and vice versa. look, i like a hearty dose of crunchy mama stuff. we did a natural birth with elinor. we see a naturopathic doctor. i baby wear. we swaddled. we did extended breastfeeding and extended rear-facing. we did baby-led weaning. we use essential oils. we say "no" to GMO. {insert a big fat however} we also put elinor in her crib from day one and we did parent directed feeding, elinor had and has a schedule. i would push her around in a stroller and not always wear her. we use cutesy fashionista disposable diapers.

we may not be your typical "attachment" parents but we are pretty darn attached. we mixed and matched. we made decisions that made sense for our life and our little one. we thought about what kind of parents we wanted to be and the environment we wanted to create for our family and what kind of person we wanted to raise - we prayed about it and read about all kinds of things. we were intentional, like many many many parents are. but even if you and i have the same intentions for our families, the way that we exercise those intentions could be very different. and that is absolutely okay. does our style make sense for all? no. do i need it to? no. does what others do make sense to me? not always. but i can love that person without being hideous and judgey-wudgey. i mean, who do we think we are anyway? aren't we all just trying to educate ourselves and absorb info and chew on it and make wise decisions? for every expert or book or success story or tragic story on one side of the argument there is another expert or book or success story or tragic story on the other. we pray and  and do our very best to make wise decisions and then cover that stuff in prayer some more. because - really - we don't have all the answers and we absolutely do not have complete control over the outcome.

ultimately, what matters is how we loved our neighbor. what matters is our heart. what matters is that you are trying to raise up a child who is compassionate and intelligent and gracious. a child who loves others. but i don't know how we can accomplish that while running around cutting down parents left and right. it is a lousy model of proper behavior. shame on us for letting personal preferences and egos and judgments get in the way of showing love and grace to others. regardless of whether you vaccinate or don't. co-sleep or crib sleep. breastfeed or formula feed. cloth diaper or disposable diaper. the most important thing is the heart. attitudes and actions flow from the heart - beautiful or ugly. and i would hope that we would each try to polish our own hearts and maybe engage in a few less contentious conversations. maybe we connect to each other and encourage. inspire. be mindful and polite. let us model proper behavior for our children.

how about instead of talking about vaccines, we worry about protecting our children from being infected with hateful speech and intolerance? instead of yapping about baby wearing, maybe we should wear our hearts on our sleeves and be real with each other? wade into the lives of others, meet them at their place of greatest need and be kind. perhaps instead of talking so much about why breastfeeding is the best and only way, we should feed people's hearts with kind words and nourish with grace.

let us seek out ways to give another a much-needed break. or take some quiet time to reflect and recharge and be quiet instead of deflecting and recoiling and being loud. maybe instead of trying to prove a point, we close our mouths and open our ears. listen to others hurts. pray for them.

you don't have to defend everything. you can choose not to engage. in fiery situations, you can choose to either bring a can of gasoline or to bring a first aid kit to heal the burns. i pray for more bandaids and healing balms and less daggers and bullets. may our words be encouraging and sweet. let us raise up a generation of powerful vaccinated-unvaccinated-breastfed-formulafed-heavysleepers-lightsleepers that know how to engage in a civilized manner and shine brightly and live boldly and serve willingly and love fiercely.

{end rant}

rachel