The online universe can be pretty daunting, particularly when it comes to mom on mom judgment. If you haven’t personally experienced it, then I’m sure you’ve seen it – the snarky, self-righteous comments, usually ending with a winking emoticon to try to offset the irritation level. Moms can be downright brutal to one another, and with the world at your fingertips to judge you, things can often go downhill fast in posts or comments. However, I think the positives outweigh the negatives. I have found there’s a lot of love out there too, and many kind women willing to respectfully share their knowledge and help each other out. I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, and I really adore that aspect of working online.
As a somewhat introverted stay at home mom to my first and only child for the past three years, social networking is sometimes my only means of connecting with the outside world, particularly in the winter. I have often used that time to learn what I can from others. It can be difficult navigating life as a new parent in general, but when you factor in attachment parenting and natural living, the amount of decisions can be overwhelming. Whether you’ve already had children and opted to make new choices or you’re just starting out with your first child, there are a lot of unknowns. It’s easy to feel anxious as the questions pile on about breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapers, baby led weaning, co-sleeping and even household things like switching to unpaper towels, composting, eating gluten free, eating paleo… The list goes on and on…and on.
So it’s only natural that we reach out to one another for answers and ideas. I cherish the connections I’ve made online. I have met so many amazing people that have helped me in countless ways – people I never would’ve met if it weren’t for the internet. There are forums that have been a wealth of information where other moms provided me with answers on all kinds of topics. There have been fellow writers I’ve met while blogging, who I almost feel like I know now just through their personal facebook and blog posts, despite the fact that we’re in different states and countries. Others I may have grown up with, or encountered at some point in my life along the way, and now thanks to social networking I feel I know them better than I ever did, and are closer to some than I was when I once lived nearby. All of these women have provided me with an abundance of shared knowledge, love, support, and of course, inspiration.
Perhaps the most heartwarming display of all of this that I’ve experienced was just this past December. We had our sixth miscarriage, and this one was the latest ever, losing the baby at 16 weeks. There was a cloth diaper facebook chat group I belong to, that I frequented and consequently told about our loss. These were complete strangers in the sense that we’d never met, and I was only facebook friends with two of them. Amidst my online absence in dealing with the aftermath of our loss, one woman from the group had my address from a recent diaper transaction, so she decided to use it to get some of the women together on something. She asked anyone who lived near a Pier 1 Imports to contact her, and those that responded were asked to drive there, purchase an angel wings Christmas ornament and mail it to me. Over the following weeks, I received DOZENS of angel wings ornaments in the mail, with cards, letters, drawings from their children, and heartfelt sentiments that their thoughts were with me and my family while struggling through and physically recovering from our loss during that holiday season.
Feeling “touched” by this doesn’t even begin to describe the overwhelming emotion that consumed me. I still get a little teary eyed when I think of this unadulterated outpouring of love and condolences for me and my family. “Grateful” is another word that falls very short of conveying what I feel for having known these exemplary, beautiful women. Having a miscarriage, especially one past the first trimester, can be a very alienating experience. In general, friends and family don’t seem as comfortable in offering support, because I think people are just baffled by what to say and do. I don’t blame them, as our society has made it a very taboo subject which fuels the awkwardness they feel. These women, who never met me before, stepped beyond the constraints of the taboo subject. They took the time out of their busy holiday schedules to drive to a store and buy something for me, take it to the post office to mail, and some even paid priority shipping to make it before Christmas - all to show me that they were thinking of me and that they cared.
I think all of us moms online could learn a lesson from these women, particularly the phenomenal mom of three who took the time to organize it all. The moms in that chat group may have the commonality of cloth diapering, but we all come from different walks of life, and some are very serious about all aspects of natural living while others may just cloth diaper. We respect each other and I think there is a mutual understanding that everyone does the best they can. Whether it’s parenting or natural living, we’re all trying to get through the chaos that is life, and we all have very different passions driving us to live or parent the way we do. We all have unique lives of our own. What works for me may not work for someone with three kids and a full time job, and I would never presume that the choices they make are wrong because they are not what I would do. Again, everyone does what they can, and even if you think they could be doing better, belittling them or making them defensive is not an optimal way to engage a new point of view. I encourage all the moms out there online to show each other some love. We’re in this together, and if we work with one another abiding by the same respect and kindness we’d expect our own children to have towards each other, we can help raise a new generation of loving, empathetic, intelligent children who will have the power to change the world.
Amy Serotkin is dedicated to sustainable living and finding ways to eliminate toxins in her home. She is an avid organic gardener and cook, and is always looking for more ways to challenge herself to lessen her family's ecological imprint.
Her website, www.themindfulhome.blogspot.com, shares with consumers the information she's found on toxins and eco friendly products that help eliminate disposables or toxin exposure. She also hopes to highlight smaller retailers, crafters and manufacturers.