I love mom communities. Love them. I have learned so much from fellow mamas and my children will reap the benefits. However, what is unfortunately inevitable among the countless mom blogs and Facebook Pages are parents (and non-parents, ack!) who attempt to make you feel like a failure. When what could be a healthy conversation with differing opinions turns into downright meanness. You’ve seen it; from diapering, to feeding, to birthing – no mom-topic is immune to the debacle that can begin when a mom or dad feels affronted with his or her parenting decisions.
I do my very best to stay away from these “debates.” It’s just when I see an article titled something like “Homebirthers are Like Teenage Drunk Drivers” (real) it takes all my will power to step away from the keyboard. When a mom is being a blatant bully it’s easy to justify jumping in and setting fact from fiction. However, some cringe-worthy one-liners are harder to defend yourself against which make them even more maddening! Take the following…
1. I did that and my children are “just fine.”
Honestly, that is great. No sarcasm. I am truly thankful.
However, when you use this one-liner with a look of rebuff as an argument to defend choices where some evidence suggests it may not have been the best one, you only make yourself look hard-hearted with the possible consequences of your actions. As someone who suffers from Mom Guilt on a daily basis I personally find this argument reprehensible. I have made several mistakes as a mom, and I would never justify them with this one-liner.
Why not feel comforted by the fact that you made the best decision with the information you had at the time? I still want to beat my head against the wall thinking back to the unsympathetic doctor that poked and prodded and put a catheter in my four month old (FOR NO GOOD REASON), but I have to take in a big breath and think: “I was scared, uninformed, and made what I thought was the best decision in the moment. I will learn from it and move on.” But I would never, ever look at her and say casually, “eh, she’s just fine.”
2. If I hadn’t been in the hospital my baby or I would have died.
I recognize that mothers face real medical emergencies and not all home births end at home. All births are unique and some women and babies’ lives have been legitimately saved by medicine.
However, if you had given birth at home you and your baby had the same statistics of survival. What’s unfortunate is that medical interventions often have a domino effect for more interventions leading one to think, “how could I have done this at home?” The following quote from The Business of Being Born illustrates my feelings on this:
“Step-by-step one intervention leads to a series of interventions, and the net result is the mother finally ends up with a Cesarean. And everyone says ‘Thank God we were able to do all of these interventions to save your baby.’ Fact of the matter is if they didn’t start the cascade of interventions none of it would have been necessary.” – Eugene Declerq, Ph.D. Professor, Maternal and Fetal Health, Boston University School of Public Health
What bugs me about this one-liner is that it perpetuates the fear of giving birth. When a mother goes into birth feeling afraid, she will have physiological and emotional responses to that fear. This will increase the likelihood of interventions and therefore increase her chance of having a traumatic birth…and the cycle continues.
3. I’m not trying to be Super Woman.
And, what, I am? It’s insulting because it insinuates I am doing something or making a decision that is not only unnecessarily burdensome but that I am trying to make a martyr of myself for doing so.
For example, I throw themed birthday parties, or try to at least. It’s not because I am trying to show off my mad mom skills and impress. It honestly makes me happy. It becomes a project and I get to use the right side of my brain. It makes my kiddos excited. It makes for great pictures. We all have different strengths, different things that tickle our happy place, and we weigh importance of different things differently. Can we please not make women feel that their strength, their happy, their attempt at selflessness for their children is an unnecessary burden you dubbed ridiculous?
4. More power to you.
Does it get more condescending? The speaker is acknowledging a difference of opinion but instead of saying: “I disagree with your choice that could be seen as superior to my choice, but really you are silly and doing something totally unnecessary and likely just making things more difficult than they need to be,” they opt for this gem. It is by far my least favorite one-liner. There is so much unsaid animosity behind this sentence it’s tangible.
I understand it has become an idiom and I’ve heard it said innocently enough. I’m sure I’ve said it too. I would suggest that maybe we think about what we really mean to say, and say that instead. This sentence can be easily interrupted as patronizing, even if you don’t mean it that way.
We all need to have thick skin in mothering, and for life in general. That is a fact. I get it. But just because I’ve grown a bullet proof vest doesn’t mean I like taking the bullet. And I certainly, especially, wholeheartedly don’t want to be the speaker shooting bullets at you. We need to teach ourselves and our children how to be thoughtful and kind in our speech.
What are some one-liners that bother you?