Why is it that everytime a meme appears on facebook supporting or promoting a particular personal or parenting choice everyone jumps up and down with the: But you forgot to include….! I saw a meme this morning about the monetary value of stay at home mums. I’ve seen this before, but took the time to read the comments this time and golly…I kinda wish I hadn’t. The comments were all: “What about working mums who do all this AND work”, “what about stay at home dads”, “what about working dads who also “help” around the house” or “this doesn’t represent parents of children with special needs“. I would have thought the comments would be more like: “Hey, how interesting to see it broken down like that” or “so that’s what I’ve / stay at home mums have been doing all this time, how cool”. But no…of course the page that shared it is just “inflaming the mummy wars” by acknowledging the work and input of one group of mums without acknowledging the others at the same time.
It happens all the time: share a meme supporting or promoting breastfeeding and you are accused of making women who formula fed their babies feel guilty. If you provide information about natural births then you are anti-medical care or anti-caesarean or anti-epidural – and therefore anti-everyone who accesses those. If I’m talking about breastfeeding I shouldn’t need to say “I chose to breastfeed and I’m really excited to have reached my goal and really enjoy it, but I support all women who choose not to or are unable to or who express breastmilk into a bottle…oh and I also support dads who give babies a bottle too”. It’s ridiculous! Why do I need to think about and include every single person or group in existence when I make a comment about my choices?
I’m pretty sure that if I posted a meme saying I like to drink coke, all the pepsi drinkers would be up in arms because “hey – what about us. Are you saying that you hate all pepsi drinkers?! We’re people too you know!” or heaven forbid I suggest that I don’t like to drink soft drink very much because I’m not comfortable with the risks it poses to my health: “All you people who drink soft drink are just big fat slobs who don’t care about your health or that of your families and you shouldn’t even be allowed to access medicare for all your soft drink induced illnesses!!!!” Hmm…No, what I said was “I choose not to drink soft drink very much because I’m not comfortable with the risks it poses to my health” – see all the “I” statements there…and all the “You” statements? I didn’t say that I think you are a bad person for drinking soft drink – I honestly think that it’s great if you enjoy it! The fact is that it is not a healthy choice, but so what? There’s heaps of things that aren’t healthy choices – and it’s totally not my place to decide what health choices you make. I don’t even mind if you drink it in front of me or around my kids or while you’re pregnant! And I’ll let you in on a secret – sometimes I feel like soft drink and I just go “Oh fuck it, screw the health implications I feel like a freaking sarsaparilla” and I do drink my bundy with coke (the lime slice counteracts the “bad” from the coke and alcohol!).
I read a great saying once “My choices aren’t judging your choices”. I’m totally able to make choices for myself and my family without thinking they are the best choices for everyone else. I’m an adult and I understand that I have come to make the decisions I have based on my own individual circumstances. I’ve used my own knowledge, my own research, my own cultural background and social circumstances and the events that have happened in my life to make the best choices possible for my family. I expect others will do the same. And I expect that their knowledge, research, cultural background, social circumstances and life events will be different to mine. So why the hell would I expect them to make the same choices as me?
And this is where the “mummy wars” come in. If a mother makes a choice for her family and then announces it, it doesn’t mean that she hates you for making a different choice. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t support women who make a different choice. If a woman shares information about her parenting choices that’s all it is – information that supported her decision making process. The only reason the mummy wars continue to exist is because some women continue to get offended by information or promotion of choices they disagree with or didn’t make. And, hey, what about the “daddy wars”! I’m sure they’d love to be included, because they make parenting choices to you know!!