“Oh, you’re using formula.”
“Where’s her father?”
“Would you feel more comfortable breastfeeding in the other room?”
“Are you two ever going to have kids?”
And on, and on, and ON goes the oversharing of opinions and judgement at every turn. The photos in this post are for No More Mommy Wars!: a photo project. It was inspired by a beautiful campaign launched by CT Working Moms in June 2013: Campaign for Judgement-Free Motherhood. It’s about moms supporting moms. It’s about respecting that although we make different choices we all love our children and we want the very best for them. We know first-hand how challenging this motherhood gig can be and we embrace the fact that our best chance is to SUPPORT one another rather than to try to tear one another down.
As parents we learn very quickly that a choice isn’t merely a choice when it comes to our kids, especially when talking to other parents. Dubbed the “Mommy Wars” everything from what kind of diaper to use to whether or not to work outside the home is potential fodder for battle. If the mom you are chatting with at play group went to a doctor while she was pregnant and you had a midwife, the following tension-filled moments are, confusingly, critical. Is this the kind of mom who will blow you off as irresponsible for going against the mainstream? Is she going to assume you have only disdain for everything medical, and by extension, her? Suddenly you find yourself in loaded territory, when really you just wanted to commiserate over harmless poop and teething-talk (except we all know poop and teething aren’t landmine free topics either (pun intended)).
When my daughter, Naomi, was a couple of months old I was gabbing with a friend in the grocery store and innocently mentioned that she slept tucked under my arm with me in bed at night. Call me lazy, but making the semi-conscious pilgrimage to her room 18 thousand times a night was just not something I could get excited about. One minute I was sharing sleep strategies with a fellow parent by the bulk bins and the next I was fielding directives from a complete stranger weilding a shopping cart, “Okay, whoa! You had better get her OUT of your bed NOW or you will NEVER get her out.” Insert knowing, condescending, confidence-shattering nod here.
The reality is, we are all trying to do the very best we can. The other side of that, however, is that we don’t actually know what the heck we are doing. None of us do. Intended or not, the raised eyebrow, the pursed lips, the terse “hmmm” thrown in our scattered and unsure direction all weightily pile on top of each other and add up to a very clear and destructive message:
Hey, you there! I see what you’re doing and YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! How could you? You’re probably going to mess up your kid! You’re a TERRIBLE MOTHER!!!
When this message comes from other moms it can be especially withering. Often we are pitted against each other as though we have no choice but to mother our children from opposing camps: Stay-at-Home Moms vs. Career Moms, 20-Something Moms vs. 30-Something Moms, Good Moms vs. Bad Moms…
Fortunately I know a whole bunch of moms who are nothing like that.
The 32 women in these photos are all part of a Facebook group dedicated to supportive motherhood. We range in age, ethnicity and favourite ice cream flavour. We are first time moms, moms with multiple kids and moms with multiples. We’re into AP, or we’re not. Our kids go to daycare or they don’t. We stand together in these photos representing different choices and different experiences but the crucial message here is that we STAND TOGETHER.
We are committed to not participating in the crazy, pointless mommy wars.
It can be tough sometimes, I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it can be hard not to judge Different.
We do our best to remember that we have no way of knowing the various criteria the mom standing across from us is using to make her decisions. We may not always agree with each other, but we can try to understand each other and stand together in motherhood.
We hope you enjoyed the photos!
My hope is that this project will help a mom who is feeling judged feel a little less judged. Know that there is a group of moms over on the westcoast of Canada who has your back. Mommy on!
And now the thank you, thank you, thank yous
Many thank yous go out to many very supportive people and companies:
The Moms with Moxie
First and foremost, thank you so much to the wonderful women who discussed and discussed and discussed and eventually modeled for this project. Thank you to: Ali, Anna, Brianna, Diane, Elle, Emma, Ericka, Erin, Hilary, Jamie, Jennie, Julie, Karly, Kate, Kirsten, Lina, Lindsay, Maggie, Megan, Melissa, Michelle, Mindy, Miranda, Penelope, Petra, Regan, Rozee, Samantha, Sarah, Sarah-Jane, Sonja and Suzanne. In addition to your insight and hilarity you are beautiful and. brave. You are also wonderful, wonderful mothers.
Michelle Noehren, founder of CT Working Mom, and her fellow bloggers launched their Campaign for Judgement-Free Motherhood in June 2013. Their photo project was profiled in The HuffingtonPost, The Daily Mail and Yahoo.com, and in addition to inspiring our group here in Victoria, BC, Canada they continue to encourage moms everywhere. Thank you so very much!
The beautiful photos in this project were taken by the über talented Vivian Kereki Photography (Vivian also happens to be a mom, by the way!). Vivian is a dream to work with- her calm, positive and encouraging demeanour shines through in her work and her collaborative nature is hugely appreciated. Thank you for all your time and talent!
The team at Mothering Touch has been and is fantastic! From heaps of encouragement for the project to printing flyers to hosting our launch party and everything in between, their support has been incredibly valuable! Thank you!
Mothering Touch is the go-to place for new and expectant parents. I have logged MANY MANY hours there; I enjoyed their Pregnancy Happy Hour before my daughter was born, my husband and I had our prenatal classes with them, my daughter and I went to weeks and weeks (and months) of moms & babe groups, and I have purchased all kinds of helpful gadgets in their retail store.
The crew at Blue sponsored the printing of the brilliant signs we held in the photos. Island Blue Print is a “technologically advanced digital reprographics centre, providing a wide variety of black & white and full colour printing and finishing services.” Thank you, all!
The wonderful people at Aria Health and Wellness sponsored the printing of the photos for our event launch at Mothering Touch. Aria’s team of chiropractors and massage therapists are magic. I may be biased since Aria is my husband’s clinic, but I AM SERIOUS ABOUT THE MAGIC. They also happen to specialize in working with pregnant moms and babies (massage and chiropractic). Thank you so very much!
And some more: Christopher Leduc (design stuff), Randy Wachtin (print stuff), Julia (legal stuff), Lindsey & Sarah-Jane (flyer distribution), Penelope’s whole family (location, location, location!), Sarah (language expertise), Sarah-Jane (mad videography skillz), Sonja (pro grammar police input), and most of all, John and Naomi for all their patience and support while mom went upstairs to do No More Mommy Wars stuff again.
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~ Read more posts on choosing to be curious, not judgmental. ~
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