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Welcome to the Jungle, Baby. March 28, 2011

Posted by J. in Domesticity, Genius.

If you have kids, you already know what I’m talking about.  The second you decide to spawn, you’ve put your feet on the battleground.  You’re fighting a war, make no mistake about it, and it’s not against diaper rash, sleeplessness, or stretchmarks.  You’re fighting the most formidable opponent the universe has ever known.  You’re fighting The Mommy Wars.

There’s no use in denying that Mommies everywhere are at war against each other, or to blithely deny that you would never be part of such ridiculous divisions and arguments about the best way to rear children.  We are at war, and like it or not, you’re part of it.  You don’t choose war, it chooses you.

From the moment sperm meets egg, you are forced to find your allies early and choose them carefully.  You will seek out like-minded women who share your ideals and plans, but to do that, you’re going to have to outline your parenting philosophy from your stance on circumcision through who should pay for the wedding.  Your entire parenting philosophy is going to determine where your battle lines are and help you plan your defenses and mount your own counter-attacks.

There are factions within cadres.  Militant Mommies wage war from both sides of the barbed wire, and they have millions of minions in countless sub-batallions who are united on some fronts while in-fighting at the same time.  From the moment you throw down (or up, as the case may be), propagandists will be out to win your for their army.  You will have to sort the lies from the half-truths and the opinions from the unsubstantiated rumors and decide who to trust a when it comes to your child’s well-being.  Know that whatever Mommy Manifesto you support, whichever gospel rings true to you, you’ve made enemies before that infant has even drawn breath.

Unfortunately, as it happens in war, you will believe things that aren’t true because you like the person that said them.  You might find yourself getting swept up in a cause or intrigued by a lifestyle that is foreign to what you’ve always known and understood and were comfortable with.  Whichever way your parenting proclivities lie, you will adopt philosophies in pregnancy that no longer fit when the baby is on the outside, and you will be branded a traitor by those whose opinions you once held dear back when the baby was merely hypothetical.

You will have divided loyalties.  Motherhood pits sister against sister, mother against child, and best friends will find themselves staring across hostile enemy territory.   The ground is littered with landmines, and one misstep in any direction can blow alliances apart.

You won’t know it at first, though, because the battles are, for the most part, fought quietly and with great civility.  Advice is offered with a smile, and interrogations come under the pretense of being interested in your new baby.  You will ignore it at first, perhaps dismiss it as casual conversation, but you’ll soon enough come to recognize when you’ve encountered a volley of hostile fire.

“Are you going to {insert parenting choice}?  We only ever {insert parenting choice} because studies show that kids who are {insert parenting choice}-ed wind up {insert list of mostly imagined positive traits bordering on superpowers}.”

“In my day we never/always {insert parenting choice} and our kids turned out so much {insert superlative}.  I don’t know what’s going to become of this new generation…”

“I read that {insert parenting choice} can cause {insert list of mostly imagined maladies, ailments, illnesses, and crippling physical and/or emotional disorders}.”

“I can’t believe you don’t {insert parenting choice}.  I’ve never been more happier or more fulfilled as a Mommy as when I {insert parenting choice}.”

“Oh, well you know those Mommies who {insert parenting choice}.  They’re all batshit crazy anyway.”

Maybe you’ll only realize how involved in the battle you are when somewhere down the road you stumble across a “debate” on a Mommy Blog about some parenting choice or other and you realize that the fairly innocuous pointing out of your differences in parenting style is all part of a huge battle being waged across a huge field.  In point of fact, seeing parenting choices argued over on the Internet is like watching a Civil War battle unfold from a distant hilltop.

The Mommy War is a close-contact battle, but the biggest damage is done by the snipers, long-range bombers, and WMD’s.  In hand-to-hand combat, the hostility is subtle, perhaps implied, or encased in a warm womb of goodwill.  But when you step back you can see the organizational structure better: the large groups that crop up to provide support for {insert parenting choice} and the vocal and visible gurus who espouse the {insert parenting choice} lifestyle.  They encourage the foot soldiers, directing the ground battle and providing ammunition.  There are politicians on both sides, currying favor with governments to adopt public policies to support {insert parenting choice} and using all manner of dirty tricks, deceit, and downright lies to do it.  History shows that the popular parenting tide turns time and time again as the decades unfold, and today’s favorite {insert parenting choice} is tomorrow’s misguided folly.

In the midst of it all, there are the Mommy Peaceniks.  They hold signs and hands and beg and plead for the end to the war.  “It doesn’t matter if you {insert parenting choice} or {insert parenting choice}.  It’s all good!  We need to support each other!  We have to stick together!”  It’s a lovely sentiment, and God bless their naive hearts for thinking that we can or will ever support what our fellow parents are doing, but the truth is, in as much as we may pay lip service to the idea that “it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it works for your family,” we all think on some level that the other side is foolish and deluded for doing whatever it is they do.  And we sit around imaginary campfires with our Mommy cronies and pity them in their ignorance.

I believe that no matter what happens, there will always be Mommies that piss us off for some reason or another.  It doesn’t matter if they are blindly devoted to their cause or just blindly devoted to their child, there’s a legion of underground guerrilla Mommies who are violently opposed to being blindly devoted to anything and will tell you so in the most polite way they know how, then go on their {insert parenting choice} message board and rail against the enemy with their Mommy fist raised high in righteous indignation.

Welcome to the jungle, baby.  No one wins the Mommy wars.



1. bezzie - March 28, 2011

I come from the same camp my mom came from. As a mother, you’re fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t. Doesn’t matter what you do.
I won’t lie that my feathers get ruffled by people that don’t share my same parenting opinions, but usually it just takes me a second to step back and realize “Whatever the hell flips your cookie.”

2. Baby Coupons - March 28, 2011

Being a mom is a tough job really.

3. Pippa Posey Peanut Butter Pants - March 28, 2011

Well said. Competitive Mommy shit has always made my head ache.

With much love;

From your barren and slattern Aunt Muffin who still runs with sissors and likes to encourage young children in her orbit to “go ahead and eat that eighth candy bar – because I’m sure your mother won’t mind and you’re going home soon right?.”

4. Rebel - April 1, 2011

Poops – how come you don’t have a book deal already?

5. So. When Are You Having a Baby? « askpoopsplease - November 5, 2012

[…] wrote a piece about the Mommy Wars and how as soon as you drop a crotchfruit, you’re in the War. It’s mother against […]

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