There is an ever-hanging shadow of self-doubt, guilt and uncertainty forced onto every parent. It's natural. We live a life of uncertainty, so parenting would be no different. But, if you believe in yourself and the positives you see in your choices you'll conquer this and become confident and secure in your journey as a parent. Or it is a hope I have, at least. But there is still 'mummy wars' - whether or not we actively partake in them, we know they exist. Simple differences of opinion, perspectives are often taken out of context or unashamedly shut down in order to prove one's own worth, and most of all, reinforcing the apparentness that we cannot all exist amicably in this parenting world.
Sometimes respectfully informative, but oftentimes rude, arrogant and divisive, I'd like to loudly say... keyboard warriors, get off of your damn pedestal! But that, is not what this post is about. Well, not entirely.
Retrieved from www.xkcd.com
I recently witnessed a mother being shamed and attacked by people shrouded in the protection and mystery of facing their computer screens and keyboards. Vitriolic retorts poisoned this woman's positive exclamation of gratitude to her local community. A community whose members often laud how fabulous and rewarding it is to live somewhere with such friendship, compassion and helpful spirit. She had thanked a kind person for staying by her car with her children (3 under 3) while she raced back to the store to retrieve something forgotten inside, eliminating the need to upset her children who were now settled in the car, and saving time by not unloading and shepherding the three youngsters. A post that perhaps epitomises the strength and support of ones community was shockingly and harshly degraded.
Gems such as these followed:
"How dare she leave her children with someone she has never met. You have no idea what that person is capable of."
"Leave your child in a public place with a stranger, what were you thinking, you're so lucky nothing happened!"
"I would NEVER do that... like, EVER."
"You should be so grateful things didn't end differently."
Ahh, wait. This is the community who five posts ago was previously singing the praises of its members. Oh this suburb is so good, I love living here, people are kind and friendly and I'm so lucky to be surrounded by people I know are here for me. Insert more mushy crap here, you get the point...
Regardless of what you think / feel or would / wouldn't do - is this the time to impart judgement? Can we PUHHHH-LEEEASE consider the context of this post? She is expressing gratefulness dammit. Being GRATEFUL for that community you all know and love.
So, back to the mummy guilt / wars for a second... Like parents don't doubt themselves enough, with the constant barrage of judgement they get thrown in their faces from every other aspect of the media and social environment, than for them to have a purely grateful post belittled by those on their perfect pedestals. A post to show appreciation and celebrate kindness in a community that is supposedly adored, that turns into a hot debate on validating a mother's choices. What a community spirit y'all!.
And so, the post ensues:
"What about this school teacher, if you trust her to leave your kids you'd be making a mistake, she molested her students".
Hmm, okay. So now, I'm supposed to suspect my children's educators, teachers and babysitters because despite having whatever credentials we should assume the worst of everyone...?
Can we STOP? Please.
I don't think our society needs more fear. Stop breeding it. This mother trusted her instincts. She trusted the praised goodwill of her community. The genuine kindness of people. She made a judgement call. Amazingly, she has faith in humanity! I hope I'm not alone in saying I DO TOO.
I believe in humanity! (My Collection)
I would also offer to help someone. I'm not a serial killer. I have two children. I've worked with children for ten years. I like to think I'm an outwardly good-natured kind of person. If you chose to decline my offer I would understand. But I think a society that fears the worst in everyone needs to wake up. People bury their heads in their smart phones and avoid friendly interaction because THIS. IS. RIDICULOUS. Why would you bother giving some of yourself to humankind when this is what humankind expects of you? It's a terribly sad state of affairs when the default reaction is to be suspicious of someone offering to help. I know I would be devastated if somebody thought I had a motive other than kindness and compassion when I offered to help them.
In summary, number one: stop with the mummy guilt, especially when your opinion is not asked for. Remember that there is a person you are serving your disagreement on and think about how you may act towards them in an actual conversation. You don't have to agree with someone, you and they are both just doing what suits you, your children and your family dynamic. Let's focus on building secure, confident and happy mothers instead of tearing each other down. And number two: have a think about your default attitude to society. Oftentimes the current state of newsworthy affairs is shocking, and yes it imparts fear. But please try to remember, the entire world hasn't gone to shit. Only 5% of people are arseholes, the other 95% are genuinely good natured, kind people.
No, I don't want anything horrible to happen to my children or to my family, and no, I don't consider myself a person that takes risks with their health, wellbeing and safety. But I do live. And I want them to learn to live. As the old Spanish proverb says:
"Vivir con miedo es como vivir en medias"
A life lived in fear, is a life half-lived. Think about it.