21 October 2010


Mompetitors. I'm not sure where I heard this term, but it makes me laugh.  The sad part is, that it makes me laugh because there is truth in this made up word.  Moms are getting so caught up in what the 'right' way is to raise a child that they alienate other moms who don't share their views.

A few days ago I was at a park with my girls.  They were crawling around my feet while I sat there feeding them a banana.  Another mom walked over and the first thing she said to me was:

"I thought they were wearing cloth!  You must be a crunchy momma like me."

For the next ten minutes she proceeded to regal me with tales of how her son's pediatrican had wanted him drinking out of a cup at 15 months and how her breast milk had more calories than cows' milk so she didn't understand what his issue was.  And about prefolds, and Blueberry diapers and a few other diaper terms (which I wasn't altogether familiar with).  Meanwhile her 3 year old son is off wrecking havoc on the playground by trying to take a living dog from another little girl.  And I can't get in a word edgewise.  Finally, I'm able to say that I only cloth diaper because I'm cheap and prefer to save the two grand a year we would have spent on diapering twins.  She looks at me aghast and more or less looses interest in me.

And I sighed a sigh of relief

Suddenly mothering has all these labels.  Crunchy and Silky.   Attachment parenting and Baby-wise parent.  Co-sleepers and crib sleepers.  Spankers and positive reinforcement only.   It's a crazy world to be thrown into and it all starts when you birth a child (or two).

Now if someone were to give me a label it would probably be "Chewy" or the coin word for somewhere between crunchy and silky.  I'd get that label because I do things on both sides of the parenting fence.

I didn't do formal sleep training, but I did cry it out.
I use cloth diapers, but I don't object to disposables.
I make my own baby food, but I buy local and non-organic.
I use corporal punishment for direct disobedience, but I prefer to use positive reinforcement most often.
I love and sort of ascribed to the idea of baby-led weaning as far as finger food goes, but I did spoon feed and I am the one initiating the end of the breastfeeding relationship.
I vaccinate my children, but I do so selectively.

But the truth of the matter is that none of that matters.  None of it. But most of us moms don't see that and get caught up in this mom-competitive world.

I actually had a long conversation about this with a good friend.  Despite my merciless way of telling people like it is (when I know them well enough), I am pretty sensitive.  My feelings get hurt easily and I tire of insinuations that because I'm not doing what you're doing then I'm doing something wrong.

Now, understand me, I know there are solid absolute truths when parenting children.  Most of these truths are recorded in scripture and come to life with the gospel.  Parenting requires teaching the Law through the teaching of obedience and the application of discipline.  But like the gospel, healthy doses of grace should be sprinkled throughout our lessons.

However, the choice to let my children chew on a rock because I know no ultimate harm will come from it is not wrong.  Perhaps it's different that the choice you would make, but that's okay.  I've chosen to allow my children to explore nature and that does not make me negligent.  It was a choice.  It was my choice to make.

And the truth is, if we all made the same choices (were all crunchy or silky or chewy or whatever) there would be no diversity. 

And without diversity there would be no one to learn from.

So what I'm learning is to let stuff go.  To ignore comments that seem judgmental (or maybe really are) and to keep my tongue from making similar comments.  Because the truth is none of it matters in the grand scheme of things.  

What matters is that we all have the same goal: to bring our children to the foot of the throne of Jesus Christ.


Valerie said...

That is a great post! Good for you, Melissa. It's so easy for us to compare to other mothers. With these being my first and haven't over 20 nieces and nephews, it is really hard not to compare. Thank you for reminding me that's there's no right way!

Jessica said...

Wonderfully written post! Thanks for sharing. Fortunately parenting is not a competition, although many times we get caught up in "our way is the RIGHT way" instead of appreciating different approaches and respecting how others chose to parent their children. Praise God for diversity, otherwise life would be extremely dull!

Anonymous said...

This is such a great post! And it's a good reminder to me as I often find myself categorizing different moms according to their parenting style. I usually do this out of wanting to find someone "like-minded", but it still isn't the best idea... :P

Chelsea said...

I know it!
You are so well spoken. I have never heard that word before, but I hate the competition between moms. I've been on both sides of some of the arguments- working vs stay at home, disposable vs cloth, breast feeding vs bottle feeding, homemade vs store bought baby food. After experiencing so much, it just makes me have more respect and appreciation for other moms and their choices because the truth is that parenting is challenging no matter what the details are. Sure I have my preferences, because that is what has worked for our family, but I wish that there was less division on these small issues and more support. There is a lot of judgment. And that includes judging people's motives for why they do what they do- like your crunchy diapering mom. I would be so happy to stay away from those labels! We need to trust that the other moms are doing what's best for their children, just as we are for ours. I can say that it seems that as the kids get older those issues seem to subside, but you are in the thick of them now!
Praying for your sweet family. Double trouble, double blessings! (Did I tell you my brother and sister-in-law just found out they are having twin boys?)

Julia said...

You rock! Love this! I, too, get hurt and defensive when my parenting is questioned. Lables are hard. My thoughts and ideas on the whole topic have changed over the past few months--discpline is important, and I have seen what good discipline can do in the way of sleep, both for me and for my girls. God gives us our children to care for, love, discipline and most importantly, bring up to know him--the ultimate goal of our parenting. I pray every day that my children will never know a day of not knowing the King. So, even if they don't get an organic banana one time, what better parenting could there be?