There’s this video doing the rounds at the moment called the Mother(hood) and it pisses me off. It shows groups of actors being mums in a playground all facing off against other. There’s the breastfeeders, bottle feeders, the stay-at-home parents, the attachment parents versus working mums. Yadda yadda yadda.
Then there’s a bunch of dads. They are all lumped into one group because apparently men are all the same. They don’t have sub groups. They are cooking a BBQ and flinging pot shots at all the other mums for being “helicopter parents”. My husband would be horrified, as would many men. There are many different types of fathers, as there many different types of mothers. One day society will catch up and start reflecting that in mainstream media. All men are not the same.
Same goes for all the mums in the sub-groups. I do not know anyone who classifies themselves simply as a “breastfeeder” or “home birther”. Some women actually bottle feed and stay-at-home and work part-time and had a home birth. Some attachment parents had c-sections and eat meat, not just their placentas. Mothers, like women, are complex and layered. Some home schoolers let their kids do loads of after-school organised classes and some working mums do have time to pick their kids up from school and attend school excursions. There are no parents that are one or the other, they are many things all at once.
Of course there are some people who strongly identify with one group or another and are quite militant in their views and judgemental of others, but they are probably like that in all areas of their life. Some people are just like that, many are much more moderate and accepting.
While this stupid, stupid video continues to pit everyone against each other, by way of “comedy”, it really just confirms for me that differences are all overlapping and thus making us all share more than we care to admit. And yes, at the end the video, which is an advertisement for baby formula (aha yep, it’s an ad that has now been shared millions of times), it makes the point that we are all parents who love our kids. Differences aside we are all part of the “sisterhood”. Firstly, I’m not sure what the dads feel about that? But I suppose they don’t really matter because it’s only the mums who buy the formula and feed their babies their bottles, isn’t that right dads? Wrong on so many levels. I’d actually suggest that men probably buy a whole lot more formula than companies give them credit. And mix more bottles and feed more babies with bottles, while their partners sleep, grab some alone time and work. And secondly, I am not part of a “sisterhood” – what a crock.
We are all different people and have different views on the world and different parenting styles and different realities. There is no “sisterhood”, there’s shared glances of recognition, but we are essentially living our own deliciously unique lives and facing our own challenges. Just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we are part of a gang or that we are automatically going to like each other.
But one thing we all do share as parents is that we know how relentless the experience is. The daily reality is we are experiencing many of the same battles – kids pooing up their backs just as you’re strapping them into their car seats, kids refusing to get dressed for school in the morning, kids leaving food in their lunch boxes to go mouldy in the school holidays, kids sleeping through their school alarm and tantrums all over the place.
We share moments of feeling useless and out of our depth. We worry about the health and safety of our children. We all have times we want to hide in the cupboard eating chocolate and sculling a bottle of wine. We all questions ourselves at some stage and look to others for answers. We all have moments our kids won’t sleep and we don’t either – sometimes for years.
Yes, there are times we judge other people’s parenting choices, it’s human nature to compare what we do against what others’ do. But I strongly believe the nasty finger pointers and loudest critics of others are in the minority, that mostly people are comfortable with others’ choices. Most people are aware we all parent differently and know that we are just trying to do our best. Overall. people are just trying to get through each day – get kids ready for school, arrive at work on time, pick kids up, make dinners, spend quality time together, battle over bedtime routines. Parents are so darn tired and wrapped up in their own world to give a shit about what other parents are doing.
Stupid videos trying to create divisiveness are just that, stupid. Even when they do end with some crap about “sisterhood”. Don’t believe the hype – they just want to go viral and sell formula. Appeal to the masses, divide and then reunite. Boring advertising formula I may suggest.
Yes, we all parent differently. Yes, there are some that judge others. Yes, I will not agree with everything you do and visa versa. But all in all, we recognise our differences and support each other because we are all in this together. We all know how hard it can be. And we learn from each other’s different ways of doing things – either cementing our own beliefs or growing from learning alternate approaches to parenting.
We also know how rewarding and wonderful parenting is and all we look for in others is that they are keeping their kids happy, healthy, safe and loved. Ultimately we are all doing the best we can for our kids who we adore. We are all raising individuals who will grow to make this world a diverse and interesting place. A unique tapestry of life, created by a unique bunch of parents, who are all raising children in their own special ways.
And so the life cycle continues.
So, my partner – because his then wife had had four kids already and only had one with him cos he wanted a child…saying OK, then it’ll be ALL yours – was handed the baby after the birth. Did all the feeding – bottle, of course – walking the floors, etc, and post separation and divorce, all the school runs, paid for school, parent-teacher interviews, canteen roster, the lot – apart from the bits I did when they became part of my family. So, where exactly does he fit in?
I didn’t even look at the video – didn’t want to from your description. But yes, you’re so very right. There’s no one way to parent. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with the basic decisions people make with feeding, how we give birth, how the day to day care is allocated, etc. Once upon a time, these weren’t even points of discussion – the village existed; the extended family were pitching in, the neighbours were almost part of that family by extension, and no one was trying to do this massive job alone… With that set up, there was bugger all criticism of everyone else too, BECAUSE everyone was involved…well whaddya know?!
When I become a Mum I certainly expect (and hope) to see far more support from other women than competition. I’m sure there is some of the negative stuff out there but surely there is far more positive experiences overall… It’s great to see a post like this calling BS.
I agree about the fatherhood stuff – I feel for our men who get unfairly treated in this arena. My husband is incredibly hands on with his children and takes 100% responsibility for them. I feel bad whenever I hear men getting a bad rap and often wonder if I’m just one of the lucky few or if men are just completely being misrepresented. The media generally has a lot to answer for.
Sounds awful! I get particularly stroppy with the father portrayal, as my husband was (is?) the primary carer, even still as they are at school – after the first year of breastfeeding by me, he has been the one up at nights, does the shopping, cooking, schlepping to activities, disciplining and playing, etc, etc (which in turn, means I do more paid work). But you’re right too about the micro-groups within both mothers and fathers – not to mention gay couples, family members who, in some cases, take on a large part of the ‘parenting’ role, and so on. Boxing people into simplistic categories is pretty stupid, really.