It was four o’clock in the morning and already my second time awake. My son nursed contently, so in hopes of staying lucid, I decided to hop on Facebook and click on my local mom’s group page.
The first post on the group’s page wass a question to all the moms on the site—hundreds of us—about a particularly hot-button topic. The woman who wrote the question sought advice and other people’s opinion. The first mother to reply briefly shared her experience. What followed her response were 241 aggressive and degrading comments directed at her that never answered the original question.
I started reading through the comments and had to stop myself. I hurt for the woman who had been attacked by people who probably didn’t actually know her. I turned my phone off and sat there, confused.
Why would people so quickly verbally assault this woman when she simply shared her heart, her thoughts? I debated whether I even wanted to stay in the group anymore; it clearly was not a safe place.
The more I think about it, that Facebook thread mirrors the current motherhood culture. Although I have just become a mom recently, I have been a nanny for years. I have seen behind the scenes of playdates, heard the struggles of moms I’ve helped, and seen the pressures they face.
And something I frequently see among Christian and non-Christian moms? The willingness to allow disagreements to damage relationships. These differences aren’t often discussed openly, but instead debated on social media or vented among like-minded friends. This lends to an “us versus them” mentality. This used to baffle me.
Now that I am a mom though, I see it. I feel it. This is an insane job. How am I supposed to make all of these decisions, with no training, no manual, no way to know what is “right” for this human being I am 100% responsible for and is 100% unique to this world?
God does not make duplicate humans. I have a one-of-a-kind baby that needs one-of-a-kind attention and care. On top of that, I am an individual with different beliefs and passions and ways of living then any other human. So how could I possibly agree with even one other mom 100%?
And then there is the pressure. I struggle with it daily. The constant ringing of “Am I doing this right?” in my ears, causing me to panic and check my baby for any possible problems.
And here is the kicker: I CANNOT know if I am doing it right!
But THAT is the reality of parenting. Every day. With seemingly every decision.
And there is no way to know if the way you feed your child, the way you clothe them, the way you teach them, get them to sleep, poop, and eat is actually the “best” for them. You can research all you want. You can ask others’ opinions. You can pray. But in the end, you have to take all of that information and make your own decisions, decisions that directly impact another’s life. Yikes!
I don’t like this. I like perfection. I like to know I am doing exactly the right thing. But that is impossible in parenting. I have to make my own choices, and so does every other mom and dad. Of course I want my choice to be right. I want to feel good about it.
I think this is where moms tend to debate and disagree, instead of discussing. We want so badly to be validated, want someone to tell us we are making the right choices, want to ease our fear and our insecurity. So if we point out how we think others are wrong, maybe that helps us feel more secure, right? If we put someone else down, criticize them for their choice, it affirms we are better moms and making better decisions.
But this isn’t true at all; it just causes hurt, pain, and more insecurity. It may make us feel better for a moment, but in the long run it closes off our hearts to learn and grow from people different from ourselves. It adds to the pressure of needing to be “right”, taking our focus off of simply loving our kids. The reality is we all love our children desperately and want the best for them.
I want to remember as I start this journey into parenthood not to judge. I want to make room for discussion. To dialogue instead of fearing differences. To encourage instead of divide.
Imagine the impact such a safe place would have on these babies we love so much. As our children see us striving to accept each other amidst disagreements and differences, they will learn to pursue relationships built on love rather than being “right” and discover the satisfaction of a life built on community.