Today, I'd like to take a moment to talk about something I've been wanting to spread the word about since I first came across it: The Take The Pledge Campaign. Started by Elizabeth Flora Ross, it encourages moms on the internet to take The Mom Pledge, which "...is about women standing up, speaking out and coming together to end cyber bullying among moms." You can check it out here.
I wish I could plaster it all over the various Mommy forums I've been a part of over the last couple of years. You hear all sorts of stories all the time about how becoming a mother can change a person, for the better, and I still believe that to be true in most cases, but wow- does it bring out the worst in women when they get together to discuss the parenting experience.
I don't know how much of it comes from the competitiveness encouraged by today's culture, and how much from personal insecurities being transferred to perfect strangers on the web, but in either case I think an important step for all mothers, as they enter into discussion about the various choices they make for their children, to make use of something that I think motherhood brings out or enhances to some degree in all of us: compassion.
And even better: empathy. I know that I can't claim to never feel those pangs of inner judgment, but before I allow them to color my attitude towards another mother- or worse- my words to her, I try to consider the following:
- Circumstance- no two relationships, home environments, or children are alike. All of these things will play a part in the choices a mother makes, and will influence the limits of her capabilities.
- Personal difficulties- every mother has them, be they health or personality-related. Some moms are physically incapable of handling more than a certain amount of stress, and others have emotional limitations, which will play a part in decisions such as whether or how long to breastfeed, and how to go about sleep-training. (And let me express here how much I hate the popular argument that you "sign up" for certain things as a parent, or that tending to your own needs at all must necessarily be a selfish decision. Sometimes, things end up being harder to deal with than you could ever have imagined, and you may find yourself tending to your own needs first in some rare cases because sparing yourself an overwhelming amount of hardship is what's best for your child.)
- Access to information- you may have spent so much time doing research in preparation for parenthood that you forget what is "common knowledge" (which, by the way, is all relative) and what is not. Never assume that someone is being purposely ignorant. I think it is important to educate when and where we can, but always with a pure heart and without condescension.
- Differing priorities- there are many issues that I consider to be of utmost importance, and those issues form the center of my parenting philosophy. I can't help but feel passionate about them, but I always have to keep in mind that not every woman shares my passion, and that is always going to be the case. Even if it's an issue that I could back up with loads of research, it will only be a relevant one to someone who considers it important in the first place. Much as I may disagree with that differing perspective, it's all part of the human experience. We are never all going to see every issue the same way.
- The bigger picture- there are some rare occasions in which I am in such disagreement with what I am seeing or hearing, it's really hard to not get a little judgy despite my best efforts. It's at these times that it's important to remember the argument that I think this blog post really nails. Whatever fellow mother I may meet is just that. A mother. Meaning that her child is with her, loved by her, being cared for by her. Let's not fight over the way that mother loves her child- let's fight for those children who don't have a mother to begin with.
And, in other news, Abby now has enough hair for us to do this:
Good times. :)