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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.

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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

  • Judge not least you be judged

    Reply

  • Yup, you are right for sure.
    When talking about those topics in a group it is always a can of worms as rarely do two people have the same point of view.
    I try to be understanding now that I am past all of those. And when I speak to someone in those situations , if they ask I will say what worked for me but remind them that everyone is different and do what feels best for them.

    Reply

  • I think we all criticise ourselves worse than anyone else ever can & i found this article really self apologetic and hesitant & I really hope this writer wasn’t attacked for the previous article written. Own your decisions & your parenting & scream from a mountain top I LOVE MY KIDS! Cause this is all that matters. Everything is relative, mind your business & if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.


    • yes the kids are what matter after all.

    Reply

  • Watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_kIF4dAoao&sns=em

    Sums your article up. Above all we are parent and love out children. This is what matters.

    Ps- I hated pregnancy too!!!

    Reply

  • A lot of what you have written I have experienced and I agree instead of judging let’s support. I am one who believes in at least attempting breast feeding (as they say Bub gets a lot of benefit from at least the first few feeds of breast milk) I had big issues and learnt a great deal from my 2 experiences of feeding to a point where I actually learn my first child was not getting a proper feed and really I should have got help or put her on formula as my milk never came through properly and she would feed every 2 hours (from start to start) for close to half an hour my second I had my milk dry up and was forced to use formula for a few days until the mot ilium started to work which I won’t deny had me stressed and depressed due to this experience I now am happy to give advice if asked for it as I was pressured with the first and so do understand all the different choices as well as my sister inlaw decided to not even attempt to breastfeed at all and I understood that was her choice and 2 years later she paid me the same respect with my first Bub. She was the only one telling me to do what I thought was right, while I had the pressure from others

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  • I’m expecting a C-section because of medical complications. I would prefer a vaginal birth but that puts me and the baby at risk of a little complication called death. I’ve said to my Dr that all I want is a healthy baby at the end of things, and I’m the adult so I can recover from surgery where as a little person has so much more to contend with if something goes wrong. That all seems very sensible to me. But I’ve been astounded by the number of people who have questioned my relaxed take on a c-section, that tell me not to share the info, that I will be judged, that it should be a secret. I was seriously surprised by the smart, savvy women who ‘advised’ me. People I know who care about me. This to me is crazy. I think I should be judged more harshly for thinking that my preferences should be put ahead of the health and well being of my child. Lets support the each other’s choices because sometimes they simply aren’t a choice at all.

    Reply

  • Meg, a very well articulated article, totally agree with your points and admire your courage to speak up. Yes we can do what we do best which is to give support (instead of criticizing which doesn’t really help).

    Reply

  • Great article we need to be support of other women we all have different ideas

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  • Meg, your writing is an inspiration. I’ve been a working mum and a SAHM, and each of our four bubs have been so different through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. I can see both sides of the equation for most of these questions, and the best word I think of is Empathy. One more contentious issue I’ve faced is age – You’re too young to have a baby (I was 24 & married 3 years), you’re too old to have a baby (I was 29), you’ve got enough children already (grandma’s reaction when we told her about no. 4, followed by “you’re too old for more” at 36). Children are a blessing not a competition.

    Reply

  • Great article. I have had comments about almost all of these topics too. I feel that all parents (but especially mothers) should support each other, not criticise on choices because of their personal opinion.
    I will often not talk to other mothers about any details of my pregnancy, birth, feeding, work or sleep because I don’t want to get into any arguments and I especially don’t want to deal with judgemental comments when I am doing the best I can – even if I’m not perfect.
    If we were all the same and did the same things the world would be a very boring place.

    Reply

  • so true. at the end of the day, every mum just wants the best for their kids isnt it.

    Reply

  • Great article.very informative.

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  • Every pregnancy, birth and baby is so different so I don’t know why we persist in judging and comparing everything. We should be happy and content that we have been blessed with these experiences as some women don’t get to have these. Support and understanding is required rather than unhelpful comments and judgement. Love your articles, please keep them coming.

    Reply

  • This is one of the best articles I have read. I had a painful 72 labour and had a c-section. I had a mid wife tell me I hadn\’t really given birth. I struggled to breastfeed and screamed at the midwife who suggested a bottle. It was so much pressure and my baby and myself were suffering. It was so freeing to finally say you know what. I don\’t care. I bottle fed from three months, I work and I just don\’t care what others think. As long as no harm is coming to our beautiful babies, it doesn\’t matter. They are loved the same.

    Reply

  • Meg, I can’t agree with you more.
    You are a breath of fresh air.

    I can’t tell you the amount of people that have said ‘breast is best’.
    EVEN STRANGERS!
    My child wouldn’t latch and it made me feel like less of a woman and person when people say “so you’re breastfeeding, right” and I say no and get THOSE looks.
    Quite frankly, it’s between me and my child.
    As long as my child is.healthy it doesn’t concern anyone else!

    Same with being a SAHM.
    My baby is 5 months old and I get interrogated about when I am going back to work.
    I would like to do it all but I’m not superwoman.

    Vaccinations.
    My sister in law didn’t vaccinate and tried to force her opinions on my partner and I.

    Pregnancy.
    I absolutely hated it.
    I waddled like a duck.
    I was stiff and sore and people you don’t know want to touch your belly.
    Just leave me alone and get me a ginger ale and dry crackers.

    Reply

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