Mother. The very word evokes feelings of love, care, comfort, and warmth. We often refer to a mother’s love being so incredible that it’s truly indescribable. Mothers carry their babies within them for 40 weeks, creating an unspeakable bond that only she and her baby can understand.The moment her baby is laid on her chest, mommy and baby just know each other. They know they love each other without having ever properly met before. Moms show the magic and power of love at first site. In fact, I didn’t believe in love at first site until I had my daughter.
On the other hand, there’s the term momma bear. This term evokes feelings of ferocity, aggression, and strength. Momma bears, because of their fierce love and devotion to their babies, can shed their nurturing sweet mommy masks and transform into a wild animal at a moment’s notice – anything to protect her family.
Somewhere in the middle of these two sides of mommies comes a not so common term – well, the term is common, but not when describing mothers: mean girls. If you’ve never thought of moms as mean girls, I’ll explain, from my experience, ways that they are and why this needs to change.
Ways Moms are Mean Girls (and Why This Needs to Change)
The fight to be right
Something I’m all about in my writing and in life is understanding multiple perspectives on things, sharing my own, and accepting others. This principle does not seem to transfer to the mommy world though. What I have noticed through personal experiences and through connecting with moms on Facebook groups is that there are two clear sides to be on for a variety of mom issues. When you find other like-minded moms, you’re golden. You will not find more comfort, support, or comradery among women who you share a parenting choice with.
Consequently, you will not find more judgmental ‘haters’ than the moms who choose something different than you. Clearly, I’m speaking in generalities here from my experience in various groups. There is so much judgment and the fight to be right in these groups. I understand wanting support for your choices, but why does that have to mean having a superiority complex over women who choose something different? Why do we have this inherent need to be right? Why can’t we open our minds and hearts to other moms the way we’re accepting and tender to our babies? Why can’t we lead our kids by our example, by acting kindly?
Areas moms are mean girls
Let me reiterate that I’m speaking in generalities, but these are some of the ways I’ve seen moms be mean girls:
Breastfeeding vs. formula: Breastfeeding moms often have a superiority complex and judgmental problem when it comes to moms who formula feed. And I’m not even talking full on formula from day one, I’m talking people who ridicule you for giving an ounce to supplement. While it is clearly documented that breastmilk provides so many benefits to mom and baby and cannot be reproduced, some moms act like giving formula is the equivalent of giving rat poison. It’s not. Formula is a great healthy way to feed your baby. While I’m not denying that breastmilk is great, my breastfed baby was just as healthy as her formula-fed friends, and in fact, she’s the one who weirdly got chicken pox.
There are many reasons why moms may have to or choose to supplement or give formula instead of nursing, but is it really your job to grill them about this? Should you have to defend your choice to family, friends, or strangers?
On the other hand, many people have a problem with women who breastfeed because they’re so “in your face” about it. This could mean anything from nursing your baby in your home while guests are there to breastfeeding out at a restaurant. Nursing babies have a right to eat just like formula babies do. Nursing moms have a right to leave their homes just like non-nursing moms do. No matter how you have to or choose to feed your baby, it’s hard! It can be isolating. It can be a lot to handle. Let’s all support each other and bond over the wonderfulness that is being a mom, boobs and bottles aside.
Unmedicated birth vs. epidural: I thought that people were pretty on board with epidurals since they’re not exactly recent developments. Just like any medication, epidurals have their benefits and risks, which you should educate yourself on and determine if it’s right for you. An epidural was absolutely right for me; it allowed me to sleep for the first time in days (well, months really), and it allowed me to laugh, smile, and actively push my daughter into this world blissfully.
However, I was told numerous things, including that I poisoned my baby, that I was selfish, that I was driven by fear, that I didn’t allow my body to do its job, and that I was in a position to empower young ladies, and by choosing an epidural, I forfeited that opportunity.
Moms who give birth without medication – you are rock stars. I truly don’t know how you do it, and I am in awe of you. Moms who give birth with medication – you are rock stars. I am also in awe of you. Let’s not call moms who choose no medication granola hippies, and let’s not feel superior over moms who choose medication. No matter how you bring your baby into this world (including through C-section), women, you have accomplished something fantastic and beautiful.
Cry-it-out sleeping vs. not: This has been my most recent venture into mean girl mommy territory. Moms opposed to crying it out (which, by the way, does not always mean literally closing the door and just letting your baby cry) call the cry-it-out moms negative things; luckily, the admins are wonderful in groups and remove threads that aren’t productive or get off topic, but until then, moms feed off of each other, pushing the opposition down so fiercely. Does it make you feel better to condemn someone who chooses differently than you? Always think, what do I gain from putting someone down? If there is no gain, is it really necessary?
On the other hand, moms who do sleep training methods think that moms who hold their babies for naps or tend to their needs if they wake are basically lunatics. They turn up their noses and question you publicly about your choices, in the hopes of…hmmm…not sure about this. What is the purpose? I never understood. Interestingly enough, I have been on both sides of this issue, so feel free to message me if you want to know about what we have done for sleep.
Moms, we are all loving. If you use a sleep training method, you are not heartless or callous. If you do not agree with sleep training, you are not a naïve pushover. We are all loving, please accept it.
Co-sleeping vs. crib: I must admit, I was a total mean girl mom about this before I had my daughter. While I would only admit my mean girl-ness to my husband or sister, it was still wrong of me. I thought co-sleeping was horrible; I thought it was equivalent to baby Russian roulette. I was uneducated though! There are safe ways of co-sleeping that work for families and actually provide a lot of relief, rest, and comfort.
My daughter slept in her bassinet as a newborn and in her crib at 6 weeks because she was sleeping through the night, but after an 8 month regression, I started taking her to bed with me when she woke up early in the morning. So I can consider myself a temporary, part-time co-sleeper. I saw how we amended our routine to fit our needs and took the time to finally learn about something I just blindly criticized.
Moms, we’re all exhausted at some point. We’re all proud of our baby’s sleep habits at some point. We’re all crying about our baby’s sleep habits at some point. Let’s join together to celebrate and blubber over our delights and defeats, shall we?
Working vs. stay at home: I seem to be on both sides of many of these issues. I’m a part-time working mom: I teach part-time, am a freelance writer, and full-time mommy. One time during my maternity leave, I was talking to someone who assumed I wasn’t going back to work. This person said to me, “I just don’t know how moms choose to go back to work and let someone else raise their kid.” Yikes, what an uncomfortably loaded statement.
On the other side, I have heard working moms question what moms do all day at home or talk about how it must be so nice to be at home all day. There is nothing easy about staying at home; stay at home moms are the hardest working, smartest people I know. There is nothing easy about being a working mom, trying to balance a career (because you love working or out of financial necessity) while doing all the mommy duties as well.
This post isn’t meant to call anyone out or presume that because you are a mom, you are a mean girl. Not at all. My goal was to shed light on things I see going on from my experience and share with you how moms can be sneaky mean girls. I don’t think any moms want to be mean girls! I was a mean girl, and I didn’t even realize it.
I hope we can join together – boobs, bottles, crying, lulling, meds, no meds, crib, bed, working, staying at home – and just learn to support each other. Let’s find the encouragement and answers we need with like-minded people while accepting others’ choices. I love that I’ve been able to learn from my gram, mom, and sister, the best mommas I know. I love that we have so many similarities in our mommy choices yet support each other in our differences. Because who is to say your choice is right?
I always remember a quote from my high school Speech teacher’s classroom: Different doesn’t mean better or worse, it just means different.
Are you willing to admit mean girl mom behavior like me? Have you ever been hurt by this? Share with your mommy friends or groups so we can spread LOVE and KINDNESS, because let’s face it, you’re all wonderful people.