The Perpetually Guilty Conscience of Mommies Everywhere

Funny thing happened last week.  I discovered that I’ve caused bit of an uproar among debate forum mommies.  Sure, I’ve instigated debates on the one particular forum I’ve enjoyed haunting during my home daycare years, one of the most controversial of which was “Bathing with your child: Creepy or Comforting?“.  Who knew THAT could cause so much virtual commotion?

But that wasn’t what this uproar was all about.  It seems that one of my blog posts, 12 Things Daycare Providers Wish Parents Knew, had been shared as a topic of debate on a parenting forum, as evidenced by the extreme upward spike in my blog statistics.  Let me just say, that spike brought me past a new milestone for blog views, and I’m very excited about that!  Thank you, OP, for choosing my blog to debate.

I haven’t read through ALL of the comments on the thread in question, but I did notice that there were only one or two issues that parents had with my blog post.

The one point that inflamed more mothers was point #8 : “Kids do not have more fun at daycare than they would at home with their own toys and with their own Mommy and Daddy”. 

The second was the slightly less inflammatory, but still volatile, #11: “If your child starts daycare before the age of about 2, he or she will call your Provider “Mommy”.   In my own defense, this point was not made in a negative way, but simply to let all moms know that having to share that title is relatively common and it is an honour most Daycare Providers do not take lightly.  As well, it is definitely not a toddler-sized commentary on their parenting skills, and their role has not been confused in the minds of their little one.

But after reading through my post again, I realized that those two issues had been exaggerated in the minds of some, perhaps triggering “Mommy Guilt”, that feeling of inadequacy that plagues every mother on the planet at one time or another.  Many felt the need to justify or rationalize their stance, which I suppose is the purpose of a debate after all.  And I love a good debate, I really do.  But, when it degenerates to bad language and mud-slinging, it’s no longer a debate — it’s bullying.

So why would perfectly reasonable mothers feel the need to justify their own parenting methods so much so that they name-call and make unfounded accusations about the relational abilities of a perfect stranger?  I think it all comes down to Mommy Guilt, and the fact that you can say anything on the internet without having to see the recipient’s reaction in person.

Why do we as mothers, feel SO inadequate about our own skills that we immediately start defending our own methods instead of explaining what works for us in a non-threatening atmosphere of sharing?  Why do we feel like we need to justify every little thing we do?  Like breast-feeding instead of bottle-feeding, or bottle-feeding instead of breast-feeding?  Or co-sleeping, or using soothers, or working outside of the home, or working inside of the home?   Why do we feel the need to attack one another?  Aren’t we all striving for the same thing — to raise well-adjusted, productive members of society that will have happy, meaningful lives?

I suppose it’s because our children are extensions of ourselves, and if our parenting methods are questioned, it must mean that we (and the validity of our existence) are being questioned.   But should I really let that cloud my judgement so much that if someone suggests that my child enjoys spending time with me, that I would vehemently disagree?  Really?  Does that even make sense?  Should I not rather take that to heart, and realize that it may in fact be true, and allow myself to enjoy that potential reality?

If I believe that my parenting methods are right for my children, for the specific situation, and for our family, I have no reason to take it personally when someone suggests something different.  I can choose to smile, nod, and dismiss, or I can choose to try the suggestion.  But either way, why on earth would I allow a faceless person in the interwebs somewhere to make me feel guilty when I know I’m doing what I need to be doing?

I love the fact that my little blog got lots of attention, and lots of agreement from other Mommies all over North America (and a few other places too).  But for those that didn’t agree, that’s okay too!  I don’t mind at all.

Love your children.  Provide for them.  Spend time with them.  Raise them with a concept of eternity.  Enjoy them.

Everything else is negotiable.

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