To say that I was clueless as a new parent is an understatement. I knew literally NOTHING about babies or child care (Some of you who know me in real life may be aware that I was a Child Development major in college, and question if I really knew so little. I can assure you it’s true. What do you remember from college?!? It was a hazy time). In the real world I had never changed a diaper, you guys. That’s some low level of preparedness right there.
I remember thinking that if Brian and I could just master that stupid swaddle technique we would be all set. We watched videos. We practiced on a teddy bear ad nauseam. That’s the most important training new parents can do, right? Right? And when Nolan arrived – surprisingly! – we still had no idea what we were doing. It bears repeating that we were clueless.
Where was I?
Oh yes, I was busy being unprepared. I turned to Google, obviously, and soon discovered entities known as “Mom Groups” and “forums” and was promptly drowning in them, looking for pieces of advice to latch onto. Very quickly I realized that these groups could veer (rather jarringly) from friendly to judgmental to downright nasty. You could get emotional whiplash just by staring at the screen for too long.
I found myself regularly quoting things from the groups to Brian. “Can you believe someone would actually SAY THIS to another mom??” (Poor Brian. He’s a patient guy, but weirdly Facebook Mom Groups aren’t really his thing).
Soon enough I realized that I needed to spend less time in the middle of all these virtual battles, and find my people elsewhere. It turns out that for me the best antidote to the polarizing forces online is a simple one: real friends. Sometimes you can find real friends online, if you can cut through the noise. Oftentimes, you find them closer to home.
My friend Emily and me with our kids (who both, incidentally, look a little like they were given tranquilizers in this photo. They weren’t given tranquilizers! Stop accusing us!) Many of my close friends from high school and college also have young kids, and seeing them is a nice reminder that we were people before we were moms.
When Nolan was a few months old I started participating in a weekly playgroup with a few of my old friends who had kids roughly the same age.
As you can see, the results are both topless and dazzling.
*Shirts are only optional for babies. The moms wear shirts. But since it’s a judgment-free zone I suppose someone could choose to mix it up and go topless and we’d all have to get on board for it.
Having this small network of supportive, non-judgey moms has been super important to me, as an antithesis to the “mom-wars” mentality we see so much of. Our little group (and, in fact, all of the groups of moms I see regularly) plays against the stereotype of moms judging other moms. We all parent a little differently, and nobody cares! What a novel idea.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is a little video sharing my experience with the so-called mommy wars. You can share your “Mommy War Story” on the Similac Facebook page using the hashtag #EndMommyWars.
*Please bear in mind that I’m terrified of being in videos of this nature and that I did not, contrary to what you may think, have a professional hair and makeup crew working on me. Ditto for lighting. In person I look much more like Jessica Alba than is evidenced here.
I can’t say that the phenomenon of “mom wars” hasn’t affected me at all, because there have certainly been times online when the clashing opinions of total strangers has hit a nerve. In my personal life my experience has been that we’re all a lot happier if we can laugh with each other and cheer each other on instead of fighting over what we feed our kids, or duking it out over the merits of attachment parenting.
I’ll take friends over a debate team any day.
This was my third post as part of Similac’s Sisterhood of Motherhood campaign, a movement that focuses on offering all moms encouragement rather than judgment. Although this is a sponsored campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.