Every mom is different. Every baby is different. And each family's situation is different.
Our varying situations, life experiences, personal family history, beliefs, values, parenting philosophies, passions, personalities, education, etc. will inevitably shape the way we parent our children and build our families. I am of the mindset what works for one baby/parent/mother/family may not work for another. This is also why I abhor the "mommy wars."
Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. Breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding. Disposable diapering vs. cloth diapering. Purees vs. baby-led weaning. Cry-it-out (CIO) methods vs. attachment parenting. Natural births vs. the epidural. The list is endless.
Just to give you a bit of background: I am a full-time working mom. The only "birth plan" I had was to get the epidural as soon as I was allowed. I tried to breastfeed (I had every intention to try to do so until my daughter turned one, or at the very least until the end of my maternity leave at around the six-month mark), but by two months my daughter was exclusively on formula. We use disposable diapers, and we did a modified version of CIO when we sleep-trained Baby Checkers at five-and-a-half months.
I have many friends who are stay-at-home moms. Some of my working mama friends wish they could stay at home, but are not able to because they need to have a dual income. I have other stay-at-home mama friends who wish they could work, but financially it makes more sense to stay at home than to pay the hundreds/thousands needed to cover daycare expenses. I have friends who are strong proponents of sleep-training; others who have never sleep-trained and prefer to co-sleep. Every mama is different.
I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by mothers who are supportive of one another, whether we work or stay at home, breastfeed or formula-feed, sleep-train or co-sleep. Ironically, the one time I felt judged by another parent was in the world of social media, when a father made a comment about those who allow their children to cry-it-out and how they all must be masochistic, selfish, evil human beings (I will refrain from stating verbatim the vulgarities he used in this space). There was also another time (before I had children) when someone once informed me I would definitely decide to stay at home if I wanted to do what was best for my family. Well, I never . . .
In my experience, it seems the mommy wars have been perpetuated by the media and internet forums (where it is quite easy to pass judgement and say whatever to whomever with no real consideration for a person's situation or feelings), and less by real-life moms I have met. In fact, I have found being a mom has allowed me to make more connections with new people I meet, and less polarizing than I had imagined it would be. I could run into another mom in the market, or at church, or in the infant section at Target and all it takes is a "How old is your little one?" to make an instant connection.
Being a parent is hard enough without having someone else tell you all the things you are doing "wrong" as a mother. The way I see it, as mothers we are in the trenches together, and are doing the best we can to raise our little ones in the best way possible.
HB Mamas, I am curious to know about your experiences! Have you found motherhood to be an avenue for more connections, or have you found it to be very polarizing at times?