Mom groups can be the best, or the total worst.  I’m in a few on Facebook (that’s like real life, right?) just to make sure I’m staying relevant with my parenting skills, recalls, or trendy ways to totally screw my kid up. Over the last few days it seems like they’re less of a helpful haven and more of a battlefield. ALL anyone is doing in a number of those groups is bashing each other.  This mom isn’t loving her kid enough, that mom is ruining her sons life, how dare you forcefeed? How dare you let your kid go to bed without eating? Blah blah, you get the idea. Are we really that disconnected from reality that we turn to Facebook to destroy other women and gain validation from a group of strangers?

In one of these groups I’m in, a mom posted that she’s struggling with a really clingy 11 month old and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. She needs 5 minutes alone and the chance to clean her house without a screaming toddler. Some of you may tell her to clean and have alone time when her husbands home – but if you’re a police wife, a single mom, or struggling on a single budget, you know your husband isn’t always around to give you a reprieve. Some of the moms in the group offered advice on things she clearly stated she wasn’t able to do (like babywearing).  Some of the group was quick to say they’re in the same boat, but have no idea how to help. And the third group bashed her for spoiling her kid too much and creating a monster or for not stopping what she’s doing immediately and catering to her son’s lonely whimpers. And while reading through the answers these women provided I realized a common theme – every single one of them was more concerned with what’s right for them and their children vs trying to be an aid to the woman who was desperately reaching out for help.

I too have spent 2.5 years with a clingy kid, so I offered some tips and tricks to this mama and went on my way.  But here I am still thinking about it (which usually means it’s bigger than me and something I need to share). So here it goes:  Being a mom is hard. Asking for help is hard.  Being a mom who is asking for help is even harder.  The women of our generation are being taught that we have to be the strongest, best, hardest version of women to ever exist.  But in the meantime we’re losing our ability to be vulnerable and raw. At best, we’ve forgotten how to ask for help (or that there are even people who are willing to help) and at worst, we feel ashamed that we can’t do it on our own or that we’ve somehow failed to master life like we’re supposed to.

So how can we as women get back on track? How can we get to a point where we’re both confident enough to ask the hard questions, but humble enough to receive the real answers? How can we be better mom friends and have better mom friends in this world of virtual bullies and Facebook experts? Here are 6 ways to prepare yourself for virtual momhood.

(I’m of the opinion that real life mom friends are the bomb.com and more ideal than internet strangers. However, this article isn’t talking about those relationships. This is geared toward the women who take it to the internet for advice, whatever their reason.)

  1. Remember to love yourself. Sounds easy enough, right? It is, until you’re being bashed for something you’re humbling admitting you need help with. Speak good things over yourself. Understand that you are not defined by your mistakes, you are not defined by your shortcomings and you are not the hateful, hurtful, and shameful things that the Mean Moms in your Facebook group may say about you. Be proud of the kick-butt mama you are for being woman enough to admit you don’t have it all together.
  2. Be confident in your decisions. Choose what works for you and your family.  This isn’t to say that you need to have it all together, but rather it’s to encourage you that you are a strong and capable being. You can make decisions for your family, even if they do not agree with what Betty Badmouther would’ve done. Go into the group with the attitude that no amount of mom-shaming is going to change the woman that you are. And remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Ask for help, take what works for you, and keep it moving.
  3. Know how to be vulnerable. Aka when, how, and with whom. Not everyone has the best intentions for you, not everyone wants to see you succeed, and not everyone will keep whatever you say in confidence while simultaneously pulling you out of the trenches. But when you find that tribe of women who meet the above criteria [Loving + confident] let your walls down and don’t be afraid to be honest & ask for help. Best case scenario, ask a vague question and then private message with more details when you find some people who seem like they have their crap together and aren’t just all social media muscles and keyboard crap talkers.
  4. Really listen to what someone is saying. Read what they’re saying as if it were your very best friend in the whole world coming to you for advice. Think to yourself, has my kid ever been through this? If yes, great! what worked for you?  If no, wish them luck and keep it moving.  No amount of reading a book or articles on the internet is going to prepare you to advise another parent on what they’re doing wrong if you’ve never been in the trenches with them. Trust me.
    • Example: – Mom: “my 11 month old is super clingy and I can’t baby wear, how the heck can I get things done”
      Ok answer: I also have a clingy kid and I tried XYZ
      – Also ok answer: Wow, that sounds so hard. I don’t have advice but good luck mama I’ll be praying for you.
      Not ok answer:  My kids were perfect because I didn’t spoil them but the book I read says you should just suck it up and babywear.
  5. Understand that no two children are the same. I don’t know about you but my not-so-delicate flower is a breed all her own.  Typical things that work for other parents definitely don’t always work for her. And vice versa, things that work for her won’t always work for someone else. It’s AWESOME if you want to share your advice because (if sticking with the example above) your kid too was super clingy. However, remember that just because it works for you does not mean it’s going to work for them. Don’t assume they’re doing something wrong because your foolproof method of babywearing, or letting them cry it out, or whatever else doesn’t fit for this mama.
  6. Build each other up. Offer encouragement! If you feel they’re doing something “wrong” (aka how you wouldn’t see fit to do it) you can say something like, “I know you said you hate baby wearing, but if you change your mind I’ve used the Tula on my back with a 28lb 2 year old and it’s the only thing that evenly distributes the weight”, or ask why they’re anti-babywearing, etc. Validate their opinions or decisions, and then offer some advice that worked for you. Try “have you ever though to try it this way” vs “why the heck would you try it that way”. Or “I know you’re trying really hard to get your kid to eat, but force-feeding has long-lasting effects on your child so have you thought about trying XYZ? ” You don’t have to be passive if you feel something is harmful, but you attract more bees with honey than vinegar.

Basically, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If their kid isn’t being hurt emotionally or physically, you don’t need to get all crazy pants about it. And if you don’t like something someone is talking about or have nothing nice to say, feel free to keep on scrolling, one of the other 11,000 mama’s in that group will be able to fill your shame spewing spot with love + grace.

 

Momming is hard, ya’ll. Cut each other some slack.

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3 thoughts on “6 Ways to dominate Mommy Wars.”

  1. You go Bree. Wish I had this blog when I was rearing my kids. I did have a women I always turned to, matter of fact I had two, the one had kids 6 one the other 4 so I always got good advise from one of them. Here’s hoping all moms have you love

  2. I’m an autistic person and one of the things I enjoy doing is writing funny/random crazy stories that make me laugh (maybe they make you laugh too?) My blog is at http://www.AutisticWritings.com Maybe you’d also consider giving a small donation to help me survive? Right now I can only accept donations through Bitcoin and my Bitcoin Wallet ID is 175Gku7YvNySTQJht43Qefvorjj2URLKqP

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