I’m hearing from all corners of my digital world lately that women are tired of the divisions we create amongst ourselves and that we need to step out from under these shoulder-heavy labels and come alongside one another, banding together1.
I’m not talking about politics.
I’m talking about friendship. (Although the examples I’m starting with relate to motherhood, this is broader than that, oh women-without-children. I’m getting there.) Both online relationships and in-person interactions.
It can be tough to advocate for what you feel is right or best without cutting down people who chose differently, but we need to find a way. Can’t we promote breastfeeding without ostracizing mothers who couldn’t or didn’t for whatever reason? Women who, say, adopted, shouldn’t be made to feel less like good mothers because they didn’t breastfeed their babies. Although we may philosophize that c-sections are performed more often than they need to be, let us not forget that there are so very many factors that lead up to such decisions (if they’re even decisions). How a woman gave birth (or if she even did so, physically) does not have much, if any, bearing on what kind of a mom she is. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, OK? We’re all doing the best we can, given our circumstances, education and support structure. Which isn’t to say that people who choose differently than I do are less educated. There is (often) no one absolute right choice, it can vary depending on the players and the situations.
Why do we criticize the women who chose to go back to work after having children (or look down on those who stay home)? How do we have time to fight with each other about extended breastfeeding when we’re so busy caring for our families? I, for one, have enough mother-guilt without other moms adding to the heap.
And as bad as moms fighting moms is, this is broader than that, too. We’re so caught up in all the decisions of motherhood that we (usually unintentionally, but still) exclude and wound those without children. I know that happens because I’ve experienced it. And I’ve watched it happen. Friends, please know that as happy as I am to be in the Mother Club, I still remember the pain of being outside that group. I will never intentionally draw that exclusionary line or inflict pain.
I am so grateful for the friends who, when they took that step to motherhood ahead of me, were sensitive to my growing pain and talked about more than their children. Please know that I still have interests (even passions) outside of my offspring. As much a part of my daily life as my son is, he’s not the only thing. We can find other things to talk about. 🙂
Let’s be open and honest with each other — keeping some topics taboo certainly doesn’t help the situation — and try to be mindful that as many differences as we may seem to have, we’re all human and have more in common than we have differences. Let’s encourage one another and come alongside as we can. Let’s lift up our sisters rather than tearing them down. We’re in this together, and I think we can make our collective loads lighter with even something as simple as a kind word.
Have you experienced this pain and/or the balm of encouragement? What stepping stones do you see in the path to unity?