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I once wrote an article for Mouths of Mums, which was about things that people say to a working mum. It was an honest article; all comments have been directed at me personally.

My hope was that other working mums would read it and either laugh in recognition or perhaps could seek some comfort in the fact that they are not alone.

What I didn’t anticipate was a lot of comments from stay-at-home-mums who came out with guns blazing, keen to compete with the comments, which are directed at them.

The Mummy Wars

I don’t doubt for a minute that those comments are real and frequently bandied around. However the comments led me to think about the “mummy wars” – a phrase coined in the media.

If you Google “mummy wars” you will be inundated with articles. Authors attacking one another, making judgements, competing with other mothers. There are also posts commiserating with others and showing empathy and understanding.

I like to think that we are moving to a space where mums stop judging and start supporting.

There is no doubt that being a mum is hard. It is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week gig. The best-made plans can go out the window at the drop of a hat. It is tiring; there are long sleep deprived periods.

Whichever path we choose to travel, there are tough decisions and worries that we are not doing the right thing or the best thing.

Perhaps it is the tiredness and worry that we haven’t quite got it right that leads to scorn and judgement. Or perhaps it is merely a phenomenon promoted in the media. Either way, here are seven topics which, are almost guaranteed to see mums with an opposing view come out and launch an attack:

1) Pregnancy

I for one did not enjoy being pregnant. In fact apart from the end result of a beautiful baby, there was nothing I enjoyed about it. I felt terrible; I had complications, which made me worried and anxious. I was in pain. I couldn’t eat. I was huge. I was also a little bit scared to voice that for fear of offending someone. When I did complain, there were times I was told I was lucky to be pregnant and obviously hadn’t experienced loss or difficulty conceiving.

With neither of those being true, I have nothing but sympathy for women in that situation. However my physical pain and worry was still real. I don’t think it is insensitive to talk about how you are feeling.

There isn’t a competition for which is worse, being pregnant and feeling awful or suffering loss or not being able to conceive.

2) Delivery

Another topic which insights passion and argument.

Why do we need to pass judgement or make unhelpful comments about the birth of children?

We do what we need to do. I am sure we would all love to be able to have a home birth, drug free in front of the fireplace at home and be up and about the next day with a completely healthy baby. Sometimes that just cannot happen.

A safe delivery is the number one priority. Hearing about problems specific to c-section births or toxicity of drugs used in labour is not helping anyone. Often the birth decision is out of the mother’s control and we just need to keep our eye on the goal.

Instead of judging and scaremongering we should simply be celebrating a new life.



3) Feeding

Just like delivery, we often have an ideal that we will exclusively breastfeed and then wean to organic home prepared food.

I am sure nobody anticipates the pain and distress that breastfeeding can cause.

Putting pressure on new mums to do something which is making them cry and fill with dread every two hours is not helping anyone.

Judging mums who feed from bottles or those who feed from jars is commonplace. How often have we heard the “breast is best” phrase? It may well be best in the perfect situation, but is it really best if it takes the mother to a dark, dark place and damages precious bonding time with her baby? I don’t think so.

4) Sleeping

How does your baby sleep? Do you co-sleep? Do they have a routine? How many hours do they sleep in the day? What about at night? How many times are you up? This is an area of hot competition.

I remember when my 2 month old was still waking several times each night (which she did till she was 2) a mum telling me that her son slept all night and it was because I hadn’t established a routine.

Everyone has his or her opinion on how to get baby off to sleep. Don’t lie with them, don’t form dependency on you being there, don’t leave them crying, don’t walk up and down with them…..

All of us sleep-deprived mums are following our own instincts and attempting to do what we think will work for our own families.

5) Vaccination

We have all seen the raging arguments here. There is obviously a lot of passion felt.

Perhaps some would argue that this area is slightly different as for once your decision can impact on my family and me. However, there is nothing like expressing an opinion of vaccination to start a huge debate.

6) Television/ screen time

Again, everyone has their own view and their own approach, backed up by what they have researched, what they feel and what works in their family.

I think it would be a dishonest mum who has never used a screen to get a minutes peace.

Unfortunately there are still many who will judge and will be quick to stand up with unkind comments and supporting research of how we are damaging our children’s development.

7) Working mum or SAHM

My previous article saw the comments start. The reality is that there are tough days for all mums. They are not exclusive to working or SAHMs. Both have positives and both have negatives.

It is hard not to defend our positions, after all we put a lot of time, thought and emotion into decisions, which affect our children’s lives.

Trying to convince others that we have worked through it all and have come to the best decision is understandable.

However, we do not know other mums’ stories nor do we know the reasons behind their choices.

Next time you find yourself judging or questioning another mum’s decision which has no impact on your life, remember that she will be facing her own challenges.

Instead of judgement, let’s offer kindness.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • I honestly can’t say this has ever been an issue for e.

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  • I absolutely love this article and relate to every point mentioned. Let’s all be kind and supportive.

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  • Great article. I think people have too much time on their hands if they are worrying about what everyone else is doing! I don’t care what anyone else is doing any my priority is my family.

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  • Just worry about what you’re doing and not what others are doing. Seriously! We are all doing our best. Let people be!

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  • Great article. AMEN

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  • Everyone has the right to bring up their child in the best way they see fit and suits themselves. I did a lot of things that went against the norm and I have a perfectly healthy, vibrant and happy teenager, despite the criticism I got along the way, it all turned out fine. Follow your instincts and your child’s needs, everyone is different so treat them as individuals and not like they all need the same things. Good healthy food, lot of love and attention and patience of course.

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  • Well said , Meg , great article.

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  • Amen on this article !
    Personally I think a lot has to do in which circles you move and get yourself involved in. I didn’t experience much judgement because I had friends who were supportive and non judgemental. At the time my babies were so young social media wasn’t in my life and when it came in my life I chose my friends. You don’t have to read uninteresting articles and can ignore judgemental people, this is a choic. I’m part of a closed T21 group on Facebook for example and this group is only encouraging and a lifesaver for many T21 mums.

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  • I agree with what you say – but I honestly thought that KINDNESS went out the window once social media came in. The comments on there are horrible and I have now opted out of it.


    • Social media is not healthy for mums, we all lived without it before and did better, more time for the kids and ourselves and our closest friends and family. People have to stop letting themselves be influence by social media, take is as a grain of salt.

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  • I struggle on a daily basis with just about any choices/decisions I make as a mother. Constantly comparing myself to other mothers I know,or even don’t know. I work fulltime and struggle but I also know I need to work, not only for money but also for my sanity. But along with that comes more and more concerns/worry/stresses. Am I neglecting my 9 year old too much? Am I yelling too much? My 2 year old still has a dummy and a bottle each night – i dont think she should but its easier for me. Im pregnant with my third and Im shit scared of having 2 children under 3. Will I neglect my eldest even more? Will he resent me for not being there enough as I struggle to deal with a baby and a 2 year old and returning to fulltime work?
    I personally think I would find my situation easier if I did not feel I was being judged so much.
    For when I said: I’d like this next child to be a boy. (As I had found my son easier to handle/raise as opposed to my strong-willed stubborn daughter).
    For when I said: our daughter still sleeps with us sometimes.
    Or
    Our daughter still has a dummy.
    Or
    Our daughter still has bottles.
    Or
    She’s not toilet trained yet.
    Or
    I’ll try to breastfeed my 3rd but never lasted very long with my first two.
    Or.
    I will return to work when this child is 7 months old.
    The worst part is much of the commentary regarding my decisions as a parent comes from family members.
    Example – I’m ungrateful for wanting another son as there are women out there who cannot conceive
    – my kids were toilet trained by 18 months
    – we never used bottles OR dummies
    – your children shouldn’t sleep with you
    – your too easy on them, you need to discipline them more
    – you shouldn’t smack your children
    – too much television
    – and so much more
    The impact that this ‘helpful commentary’ has on me is enormous. Self doubts, negative thoughts are just a few things that plague my mind. And this ofcourse negatively impacts on my family, my husband, my children.
    Mothers find it difficult enough just trying to do the best that they can without someone telling them they are doing it wrong.

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  • I’ve witnessed and semi entered into debates aboit sleeping – do you let them cry it out and self soothe or comfort them before they get too distressed etc. Also the tv time – I don’t agree with using it as a constant baby sitter but sometimes parents do whatever it takes to settle kids

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  • Come on Mums!!! Just support one another! It’s not a competition and everybody just wants a happy, healthy baby. Respect the decisions of others and enjoy this special time when your baby is small.

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  • I almost got into a knock-down fight in an office about vaccinations. The other mother asked me how I could poison my children by having them immunized. I had the last laugh several months later when the other lady’s kids caught measles at their school (this is one of the alternate ones that was anti-Immunisation).

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  • It seems like no matter the topic people will disagree and pass judgement… oh for simpler days before social media became a soap box for so many.

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  • I agree. I dont know why we cant all be a little kinder and supportive.
    When my youngest daughter was a kindy she made friends with a little girl of the same age from down the road so I would have this little girl over to play. Her parents nearly drove me insane as every 15mins one of them would call in for various reasons. I stayed calm but felt so frustrated that they kept calling in and breaking into the girls play plus I would have to stop what I was doing to answer the door. It took months before they would simply leave her without knocking on the door to check on her or phoning and asking to speak to her. Years later the Mother told me how she had suffered several miscarriages and after her last one she was told that they could no longer have children. Their daughter was a surprise pregnancy that happened 4years after her last miscarriage and she thought that most likely she would miscarry again but to their delight she went full term and they were thrilled to have their little girl. They knew that there would be no more children. So of course they protected her like she was gold. It took them some time before they could relax and were safe in the knowledge that I would look after her when she was here. In time she was able to stay the night and years later she was allowed to come on holidays with us. Shes like my 4th daughter. Im so glad that in the early years I bit my tongue and didnt allow my frustration to be voiced.

    Reply

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