Mental Health and the Mommy Wars
Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Don’t Work
Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Work
When I was pregnant with my first child, I made a conscious decision to avoid parent-to-be boards. Being mentally ill and chronically low on spoons, I had seen the fringes of the Mommy Wars, and had no desire to waste time there. Also, as someone who copy edits for fun, I would not have been happy or comfortable in places that seem chronically plagued by chat speak and constant misspellings.I’m sure that there are those who would consider me a snob for that, but hey — you have your triggers, I have mine, and since my best processing of English is the written word, it’s incredibly stressful when said word is abused by native speakers who ‘don’t have to spell because they’re not in school anymore’. Browsers come with spell-checkers these days, so there is no excuse for constant mistakes.
Anyways, I already had friends who were also parents — why did I need ‘friends’ whose only thing in common was parenthood? Maybe it’s just me, but someone having gotten knocked up around the same time of me is not criteria enough to be my friend. Once again, that’s a me and my limited energy sort of thing; making new friends takes a lot of energy. As there was already a basis of love and respect between myself and my friends, that carried over well to talking about being parents. While approaches to parenting were not too dissimilar at the core between myself and my varied and different friends, that basis of preexisting sameness meant that we could respect where other parents had different approaches to things. We could respect that individuals have individual situations, and that what worked for one of us might not work for another. Even if I couldn’t understand that fully until after I had my first child, I was able to at least remember to respect my friends because they were my friends and that I knew they were intelligent people capable of making informed choices. Even if we shouldn’t, most of us have a bad tendency to dismiss that which we don’t know more easily than we should.
But any mother who has ever been online knows how it is. You’re not a real mom if you had a c-section, or had the baby in the hospital, or gave them formula, or dared to have a career, or any number of things. There are arguments over whether or not letting a child cry it out is tantamount to child abuse. Some would even go so far to suggest that ‘people like me’ shouldn’t be breeding because how dare we risk perpetuating our mental illnesses. In response, people get defensive about their choices — they have to formula feed because their child wouldn’t latch, they’re a one-income family, they’re… doing any number of things that shouldn’t have to be defended, because different people have different situations. Just because there often portrayed a single way to be ‘right’, that is very much a Holier Than Thou™®, Cool Kids Only sort of bullshit club. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your choices, there’s nothing wrong with being well off enough to stay home and parent ‘correctly’, there is nothing with having to go out into the workforce, and, I emphasize this one above all — there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself first if it means you can be a better parent to your children.
And then I realised what’s behind the Mommy Wars — it’s just people who are desperately insecure in a highly opinionated and polarized field trying to convince themselves and others that their way is right so they don’t feel bad about their choices. Which of course, leads to a whole section of the Mommy War that’s a total time-out to remind people that hey, you’re a good parent. I sort of chuckle and sigh ruefully, because even if don’t join in the self-flagellation that is this particular experience, I have engaged in it in other areas of my life. It’s almost as if the modern adult isn’t happy unless they’re suffering… roll on, everyone being a masochist? Nor am I suggesting that anyone is ‘bad’ or less for feeling insecure — it’s my opinion that our constant immersion in media and the lives of others in this day and age serves to convince us that we’ll only ever be happy and fulfilled if we buy the right thing, or have the right body shape is damaging and insulting. Remember that Cool Kids Club I mentioned earlier? It’s just another pointless us versus them designed to stroke insecure egos by claiming something makes someone better than someone else. Unless it’s ‘murdered someone’ and ‘didn’t murder someone’, most differences are yanno, pretty okay and equally valid.
Maybe this all comes easier to me because I’ve always been an outsider. It was instilled in me from an early age that I was never going to be enough. So in defiance, I’ve opted to continue to be genuinely me, and done a pretty good job with it. Well that, and out-and-out lying tends to make me have panic attacks, ha ha. But I just cannot see the point of camaraderie that comes at a cost of making someone else the enemy. Even without my mental illnesses as a consideration, it just often seemed… mean. Oh sure, I can understand wanting to belong. I love my fellow Bipolaratti, for example. But we’re not about to go to war with people who have borderline personality disorder for being different, yanno?
Anyways, I hope this brain jumble finds everyone well. I’m still waiting for my upped antidepressant dose to do a lick of good, and my big girl has chickenpox, but we’re all mainly doing okay. 🙂
Happy people want to spread happiness, unhappy people want to spread misery, despite your illness having a serious depressive effect you want to spread happiness, which suggests that even with the depression side of things you are generally happier than a lot of people who have no diagnosed mental issues.
Also your kids are adorable and I hope the eldest isn’t too badly afflicted with chicken pox.
That is an excellent framing, birthday twinnie. Thank you. <3
Her chickenpox are way all over, but not too too many either. She's in pretty bright spirits today on the whole.
I agree you spread a lot of positivity. I totally understand you don’t want ot take part in the MOmmy Wars.
Thank you. 🙂 And yes, I’d definitely rather spread good!
I saw some link earlier about this “religion” posting on Facebook that women who have c-sections didn’t give birth. Oh, and while I did give birth “the right way” I had an epidural so I am somehow lesser and lazy and oh, yes, abusive to my child. And because I was on meds I couldn’t breastfeed and that alone makes you a terrible mother.
I had to tune it all out. I’m me, I’ve done things my way, and they are the choices I have to live with.
My kid is happy and healthy. I’ve gotten a few things right.
As for parent-y friendships…All my friends had their kids in their teens and twenties. (One’s sixteen year old just made her a grandmother at 34.) I waited until 36 so there’s little common ground on that front. And it’s okay because I’d rather my friendships be based on common ground other than reproduction.
Besides…the soccer moms wouldn’t have me. I’d be making fun of their mini vans and teaching their kids songs about zombies.
Not wanting to know songs about zombies? Pfft, their loss. And yeah, like. I picked meds over breastmilk for #2, no argument. I might’ve home birthed both times, but that’s because hospitals contain my three biggest anxiety triggers (noise, lights, and people). It worked for me, but I would definitely not judge someone for wanting a hospital environment if that’s what they want.
Oh I am petrified of hospitals but it never occurred to me I had any other choice. In a way, though, I am glad I had her there because she had an issue with meconium they had to tend to immediately.
It should be a personal choice, not a societal event. Making a baby isn’t public sport, neither should bringing one into the world be.
Agreed. And now there’s that trend of telling birth stories which… well. I did it on Livejournal, so like, 20 people saw it, ha ha. Thinking about it after the fact, it strikes me as sort of weird that this has become a thing.
I didn’t even inform my family I’d gone into labor. I just wanted the ugly parts over with, then they could come coo at the spawn without them having to know every detail of her birth. It’s a beautiful event but it’s an icky beautiful thing. giving birth.