How stinkin' cute are they?

There they are. The two greatest loves of my life. I adore these two people more than I can express with mere words. So, naturally, I make it a point to learn everything I can about how to love them more and take care of them as best I can. While reading and researching, I have come across an interesting phenomenon: The Mommy Wars.

The term specifically refers to the battle between working moms and stay-at-home moms (SAHMs), but reading about it reminded me of some conversations I have had with friends. What it boils down to is something of which most of us have been guilty at one time or another: comparing ourselves to others.

I realize I have only been a mommy for six weeks, but I am well versed in the art of comparing myself to other women. Evaluating my mothering skills based on those of other moms began when I was pregnant. Was I going to be a bad mother because I bought over-the-counter prenatal vitamins instead of prescription? Because I I had an X-Ray at the dentist’s office? Because I took Tylenol when I had headaches? According to some of the things I was reading at the time, there are many women who would say I didn’t care about my baby for those reasons.

I have read (and heard straight from the mouths of other moms) some of the meanest, most judgmental comments about other women concerning how they feed their children, whether or not they choose to go back to work, what they let their children do or watch, etc.  I worked in a child care center during my first year of college, and I would hear it from the veteran moms and grandmas who worked there whenever a new mom would drop off her child – “She doesn’t know what she’s doing.” “Did you know she took that baby to ___??” “Did you see what that little boy was wearing? What was she thinking?” “She doesn’t even ___!” “Her child can’t even ____ yet!”

For six weeks, these comments played in my head. I didn’t want to be the mom who didn’t know what she was doing. The last thing I wanted was to have anyone think I was a bad mother, for whatever reason. But, I can’t think that way anymore because I have realized that what is right for me may not be right for someone else, and vice versa.

Some friends and I have talked about some hot button mommy issues, and here’s what we have concluded:

If you are a mom and you are able to breast feed like a champ and always produce enough milk, congratulations. But, please do not look down on women who feed their children with bottles. You don’t know her situation or what works for her family. For all you know, there could be pumped breast milk in that bottle. (I read on one website that there are women who will let their children go hungry for hours when their milk supply is low, just to avoid giving them formula.) The goal is a well-fed, healthy baby, not to use your child to make a statement about feeding.

If you choose to stay home with your children, great! If you choose to go back to work, great! Both decisions are wonderful. You are not a better mother because you do not work outside the home; what makes you a better mother is that you are doing what is right for YOUR family. I actually heard a woman say that if a woman wants to work outside the home, she shouldn’t have children. I suppose she’s unaware that there are families who need two incomes, because that statement could only be made in ignorance. Working moms, there is no such thing as “just a housewife.” I have worked harder these past six weeks than I ever did as a teacher. The point is God calls women to all sorts of duties. He has not called all women to be SAHMs (see Proverbs 31) anymore than He has called all women into the workforce.

Those seem to be the two big issues in the Mommy Wars phenomenon, but let me address a few more.

You are not necessarily a better mother if you don’t give your child a pacifier, if your child sleeps in his/her own room OR in your room, if you have a car seat with all the fancy bells and whistles, if you drive an SUV or minivan, if your child has never spit up or had diaper rash, if your child goes to the church daycare as opposed to ABC Childcare, if you never turn the TV on when the baby’s awake, if your child’s clothes always match, if your house is always spotless, if you have all the  latest toys, if you babyproof the homes of everyone you know, or if you only feed your child food that you have grown yourself on your own farm using compost made from what you find in your own cat’s litter box.

And, you are certainly not a better mother if you teach your child that it’s ok to judge other people because they make a choice that’s different from yours.

I’d like to hear from other moms. Do you compare your mothering skills to others? Anything you’d like to add to the list?