I’m kind of over it with the term Mommy Wars. And the idea of it. And the way it dismisses all discussions that include conflicting opinions into the same category as your cousin’s sister’s friend calling you a bitch on Facebook. Not. The. Same. Thing.
It’s probably true that many people in our culture, in the world, are taught overtly and covertly to avoid conflict. Maybe in the Midwest it’s an even stronger message to never, if you can avoid it, offend someone. At least not to their face. But it’s particularly true for women. That we are taught to be peacemakers not muck rakers. And even those of us raised by strong women who can’t help but rake some muck have this tiny voice inside our mind saying ‘be a nice girl! be a good girl!’
When you add parenting or motherhood into that cultural cauldron all bets are off. Nice girls get mad and good girls get upset. Because we all have a lot of feelings about our children, more feelings than we have ever felt or knew existed. And it’s hard not to get emotional about that. Because the whole thing is emotional. And it’s hard not to come across as angry or defensive when you are emotional. Even if you feelings are valid, even if you are more enthusiastic than angry. And then of course some people, mothers or otherwise, are assholes. All these things together mean: Mommy Wars. Apparently.
I’m about the 220 millionth woman to suspect that this entire term and cultural phenomenon is little more than an extension of the ‘women are catty’ troupe. The idea that any disagreement between women is a trivial, nasty, mean-spirited fight between girls. Limp wrists slapping at faces and hair pulling followed by tears. Girl fight. Girl stuff. Girls are catty, right?
But the truth is that I have many female friends, many of whom I disagree with on many things, parenting and otherwise. And when we disagree it’s actually an interesting, mutually respective, discourse between women. And sure we sometimes roll our eyes at each other or interrupt or use profanity (ok that’s mostly me), but oh well. And even when it gets heated, which it does sometimes because LANE CANNOT CONTROL HER FEELINGS, it is ok. Because we’re adults. With brains. And we love each other. So we can survive it.
It’s hard though. Because parenting is a really loaded experience. We all have a lot invested in this, and it’s hard. So hard. And even the most secure adult human being has moments during parenting where they say WHAT AM I DOING AM I DOING IT WRONG OH MY GOD I RUINED IT! So if you get caught in a disagreement during that moment, it might not be the high minded discussion you want it to be and it might turn into a terse exchange that involves a middle finger. No one is perfect.
But in the meantime, despite the tough moments and awkward conversations, I want us to embrace the chance to realize that parenting in general and motherhood for women is a deep, complicated, intense conversation worthy of discussions that people of our intellect are capable of even in a sleep deprived state. We were interesting before, we argued about things before, we still can. We still should.
Repeat after me:
Disagreement is not disrespect. Conflict is a part of life. Parenting is not off limits.