Thursday, June 16, 2016

Calling Up or Calling Out

   Any parent who has been to most playgroups or spends much time on social media can tell you one thing very quickly: The competition is relentless. The "mommy wars" are constant. The drive to out-do others is every where. What about just wanting better? Better for your kids than you had. Better for your kids than what you once provided. Better the next minute that you did the last. I truly believe that's where the mommy wars stem from. With the best of intention to just do BETTER, we somehow fall into an internal trap of self-righteousness, that our way is better so clearly others must want this for their children and to do anything else is less and therefore wrong. The problem with that logic is that we all have different lives with different needs, different spouses, different home, different budgets, and most of all different children. Not one of us can assume we know best for another, because we don't live their lives. We live only our own. We're responsible only for our own children.
   My oldest son has focus issues that greatly affect his education. For our family and my child, medication is not what's best. For my son, a combination of sensory input tools, multiple breaks, a strictly structured school day, and essential oils are best. Your son might need Adderall. I wouldn't know. I'm happy to share about what we do, but I don't assume that's what you, too, need to do.
   My second son has multiple severe allergies and delicate healthy, so he needs to skip some vaccines that could kill him. For my son, not being fully vaccinated is essential for life. Your kid may do just fine with vaccines or you may choose to skip them altogether. I wouldn't know what's the best choice for you and yours. I might share, when applicable, why we do what we do, but I don't assume that's what you, too, need to do.
    My oldest daughter had bad eczema and sensitive skin, so we invested in cloth diapers with all natural fibers. For my daughter, cloth diapers were best, and since we invested in them once we've continued to use them for all our kids. You might use disposable diapers. For your family that might be best. I wouldn't know. I'm happy to share about what we do and how, but I don't assume that's what you, too, need to do.
   And before anyone has a chance to go off on me regarding my imperfections like was done to me on Facebook yesterday(yes, I deleted the post and removed them from my page after that. Clearly they don't know me as a person to rip like that, and I'm not currently hiring unnecessary negativity), let me jump in here with this: I am not a perfect parent! Not even close. Those who actually know me as a person know that. Those trusted by me receive my texts, emails, and PM's when I'm struggling that say, "My children are a mess because I have a horrible attitude and we're all feeding off of each other. Pray for me. I need to change this ASAP." And those women encourage me. They have my back in prayer and in moral-boosting, been-there-done-that love, and suggestions on what works for them when they're in that place. I love these women who back me up while calling me up, crappy parenting choices and all. 
   We know only what is best for our children, and that best is always changing. While I firmly believe every parent believes what they're doing is the best for their child given their situation, I believe equally that even as parents we can always be learning and improving. That doesn't mean competing with anyone except yourself. We all can improve, being better than yesterday, last week, last year, or last decade. Parenting is not a skill that is exempt, but a life-long learning journey.
   The problem with this constant room for improvement is that when it comes to our children we are fierce. Rightfully so. With this fierceness comes defensiveness, and this drive to avoid criticism often causes us to hear something that hasn't been said or see something that is not present. Or we've worked so hard to be the parents we are that it can develop into a self-righteousness about how we parent. After all, memories of our own experiences, hours of research, experience, trial, and error have resulted in how we do what we do, and that makes it very close to our hearts, and that is what stirs up most "mommy wars." I don't believe it's intentional meanness. I think a lot of it is misunderstanding. Honestly, I believe we've become so accustomed to the self-righteousness that our defensiveness flairs so easily when presented with an opposing idea, so we instantly read it as a challenge. A criticism. Hate. Because this life-long passion project of parenting is so fiercely worked on every single day, opposition feels bad. But what if it's not bad? What if it's just different? A different way of looking at the world that has been molded by different experiences, needs, and journeys. What if it's a call UP- a summoning to take hold of and perform at a higher level-  for the betterment of everyone, right where they are in their very own journey, instead of a call OUT that we assume is 'shaming' or criticism? How do we change our own attitudes so that instead of instant defensiveness boiling up we can take the summons and consider the its possible validity in our journey? How do we go from scoffing and instinctively snapping back with the likes of, "Well aren't YOU the perfect parent?" to considering that the summoning came from a heart of desire for the betterment of all parents, children, and families right where they are? How do we stop looking for offense, looking for the next jab coming in the mommy war, and start actually, practically doing this thing call parenthood together, side-by-side, encouraging each other, even when that's a practical summons do better? There's enough real hate and cruelty out there without parents getting nasty with each other because we're on different paths in different journeys and encouraging one another to do the best we can.

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